Most of those who are now preparing to get married are very busy preparing for the wedding. They are planning the fancy ceremony, thinking of the white dress to get, and pondering on whose car(s) to use. As beautiful as the wedding might turn out to be, marriage has little to do with it. In marriage, two flawed individuals come together to give themselves to each other by saying, “I do.” The real vocation of marriage is played out in the everyday faithfulness of these two flawed individuals who will keep saying “I do” every day to each other for the rest of their lives. But are they conscious of this very fact?
Before marriage one goes into a relationship. It happens that before marriage, individuals have choices on whom to go into marriage with. When the choice is made, a commitment should naturally follow it. Commitment is a choice to give up choices. Yes, it sounds limiting but commitment brings great freedom and depth. The person who has committed no longer has the burden of trying to figure out which person will bring more happiness. Once committed, all of one’s energy goes into making the relationship work. Before commitment, there were other possibilities, but after commitment, those other possibilities become distractions and they are shut off. Commitment means you promise to stay and make it work today, tomorrow, till death do you part.
According to a 2013 Child Trends international report: “Dramatic increases in cohabitation, divorce, and nonmarital childbearing in the Americas, Europe, and Oceania over the last four decades suggest that the institution of marriage is much less relevant in these parts of the world.” In the United States, where statistics exist, the marriage rate is the lowest ever recorded and unmarried cohabitation is rapidly becoming an acceptable alternative to marriage. More than half of births to women under age 30 now occur outside marriage. Among existing marriages, many are weak. It has been projected that between forty and fifty percent of all first marriages in the United States will end in divorce. Research suggests that the reason for this is not low marital quality, but weak commitment.
Many people are reluctant to commit. Reluctance to make a clear choice can lead to a relationship that fails to build lasting love. In a bid not to commit but to continue with the relationship, partners make all kinds of changes in their relationship which includes living together, having sex, changing sex positions, having children. This is how they “slide” into marriage without the decision to go into marriage. After sliding into marriage, they slide into having more children without deciding to be the best parents they can be.
Why then do couples fear commitment? They will be giving up other choices when they do so. We love options and giving them up can be difficult. But great marriages are based on a commitment that cast away all options but one. As we continue to hear and see many marriages fail, more couples fear commitment. Marriage then seems more like gambling in which the bet is hedged. Consequently, many couples test their relationship by cohabiting even though studies have shown that living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce. Fear of making a mistake keep people from committing. This is why a lot of singles consider finding one’s soul mate crucial for marital success. The problem with this is that oftentimes this involves a search for the perfect mate, someone who does not exist. No one is perfect. However, be sure that you are able to live with the weaknesses of your partner before going into marriage with him. Do not, oh please for the sake of your sanity, do not go into marriage hoping to change your partner.
Love is a decision. This should remind couples that as wonderful as the feeling of love is, it is not sufficient for a marriage. At some point in the marriage – at many points rather – the husband and wife need to decide to love even when they do not feel like it. Love is in the will not in the feeling. By deciding to do loving things for your spouse, speak kindly and respectfully to her, and pay attention to the relationship, love is rekindled. This is what commitment entails. It is therefore not just a decision not to divorce. More than that, it means doing what it takes to make the marriage successful. But considering the relationship of some spouses, you find out that what they meant when they said, “I do,” was “I do, if you do what I want.” Rather than committing to the relationship, they were committed to their own agenda and immediate needs.
In choosing whom to commit to, choose carefully and wisely. Even after that, do not expect the relationship to be easy. While disagreement is inevitable in a marriage, conflict is optional. Know that after making commitment, you will keep remaking it on an on-going basis. The high rate of divorce is a threat to the cohesive structure of the family which is the basic unit of the society. The ills of the family are manifesting in the society. Marriages ought not to end in divorce and if you take away the pride of the human heart, all marriages can be saved.
A husband and a wife with “irreconcilable” differences came to a point where they decided to get a divorce. The process was actually started. A man who believed that all marriages could be saved when pride is done away with intervened. The wife actually met this man. After a lot of work, the man got the wife to commit to saving the marriage. The wife initiated steps to reconcile the “irreconcilable” differences with her husband. At first, the husband just did not want to see her. When his wife would want to see him after court proceedings, he would snub her. But the woman kept making her effort until one day her husband agreed to hear her. Long story short, they ended up saving their marriage. Had the woman not made the attempt or kept making the attempt, they would have been divorced today. Again, take away the pride of the human heart, all marriages can be saved.
Commitment is what your marriage needs to make it work, to make it last. Along the way, you will end up enjoying your marriage. The love will grow like you never expected.