By Herbert Mtowo
One of the things, life has taught me over the years in talking to married couples and growing up seeing my dad and mum in marriage, is that,” Being married is one of the strongest bonds a couple can enter into. It commits each person to staying with the other person even when the going gets rough.” A married couple has a better chance of getting through tough times because they are legally committed to each other. Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly.
Being in a loving relationship is often all you need, or is it? Is marriage and being together what love is all about? You see bumper stickers saying, “Happiness Is Being Single”. Could that really be true?
Being single and in a relationship means that either one can bail out at the first signs of problems. You don’t have to solve a problem and move forward into a stronger relationship. You can just move on to another and then another association with another “lover”. Maybe some consider that happiness.
Of all the things that couples can do to make sure they stay together, commitment is one of the strongest binding factors. What could be more binding than the legal contract we call, “marriage”? It is easy to dissolve a marriage, but it is a lot easier to quit a relationship that has no legal strings attached to it. Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. When they’re committed, they have the confidence that they’ll make it through the day-to-day challenges and life’s stressors that can tear a marriage apart. Commitment offers couples a sense of being part of a team, a desire for a future together and a desire to sacrifice for each other. An individual’s commitment to the marriage makes it a priority. It is vital that the couples you serve understand how their decisions about commitment play a role in their future success and that you provide them with the tools to continue to choose a shared and secure future with their spouse. Not being committed carries great consequences, the greatest of which is relationship failure and the possible dissolution of a family.
Marriage is the means by which a couple in love can announce to the world that they believe in each other above all others. Once married a couple has a reason to try harder to keep things going and to stay together for the long haul. The first rough waters may rock the boat, but a committed couple can weather any storm in their relationship.
With marriage comes a lot of responsibility. Learning to live with another person is one thing. Being married to them means a stronger commitment and better chance of a long and happy marriage. The commitment is what strengthens and matures a couple. With the rise in numbers of couples who live together rather than marry, compounded with the prevalence of divorce, it may seem as though people don’t care about commitment anymore. Yet people acknowledge that lack of commitment is a problem. Recent research found that approximately 85% of divorced couples indicated a lack of commitment to the marriage and to each other as their reason for divorce. So is it really realistic for the couples you serve to believe they can live in marriage “until death do us part?”
It is a fact that being married doesn’t guarantee a long lasting partnership with the one you love. It does give you better odds of staying together for a long time and living a happily married life once there is commitment. As time goes by we settle into routines. Some are conducive to a loving relationship and others are detrimental. Marriage gives you time to find the systems and that make our life with our partner more than just living together, but having a life together.
I have often heard of people celebrating their 50th or 60th wedding anniversary. I am yet to hear of anyone celebrating their 50th living together anniversary. Maybe it happens, but think of what is the longest relationship you know of between two people living together who are not married. Do you know anyone who has lived together 15 years and have a strong “togetherness”? Talk about how you met and the many reasons you fell in love and decided to marry. Reflecting on reasons for committing to one another in the first place can renew desire to capture and preserve the relationship. Why postpone with commitment if you have found the love of your life, many other hurdles we grow and learn along the way but commitment seals the marriage and allows it to flourish and blossom.
Take time to make intimacy a positive time for connection. This ultimate expression of commitment should be a special time that both spouses can look forward to. Commitment is the dedicated choice to give up other competing choices. According to expert Scott Stanley, couples reporting higher levels of commitment report that they:
- Look at other attractive people less;
- Feel great relationships satisfaction; and
- Do not experience feeling trapped in the relationship.
Make commitment a choice to embrace and not a terror to flee from. Learn to create a commitment statement, similar to a business’ mission statement. A commitment statement outlines the purpose and goals for their marriage. It may also include rules and boundaries that strengthen the marriage and keep it safe.
- Greet each other personally and physically each day. Not only does hugging and kissing feel good, it is a special gesture to reinforce the commitment of spouses.
- Talk and stay connected about hopes, dreams, stresses, etc. These topics are future-oriented; talking about the future can strengthen the current commitment.
- Spend both quality and quantity time together. Making time for each other, just to check in or to have a date can strengthen the bond and reinforce spouses’ dedication to the marriage.
- Be best friends with your spouse. Friendship is a commitment.
- Recognize that memories and traditions expand commitment. Doing special things together builds and honors traditions that are important to building meaning and significance in the marriage.
- Share spiritual or religious activities together to help promote individual and relationship connection. Outlets like this can help a couple grow closer and strengthen each spouse’s commitment.
Commitment keeps couples together and is a cornerstone of marriage. Best of all, commitment is a choice, and therefore can be redeemed at any time in a marriage.