I (Justin) want to disclaim this post by saying that I am not a counselor or a therapist by training. I don’t have credentials behind my name, so this post may be contrary to what they teach in text books. I also want to say that the heart of this post is not to give people permission to leave their marriage…it is actually the exact opposite. With that out of the way…..
Trisha and I have met with several couples over the past few months. In person; online; via email; at conferences and one phrase keeps being said that sounds good and noble and right, but I think is eventually detrimental to any marriage. The phrase is “I just want you to know, I am committed to my marriage.” When we first started coaching couples, I thought that was enough. If someone was committed to their marriage, that would be enough to sustain them. It would be enough to carry them. It would be enough to get them back on the right path.
What I have realized is that being “committed to your marriage” is the married form of being religious. It is all about rules and not about relationship. As Christians we think that being religious will lead us into an intimate relationship with Jesus. But it never does. In the same way, as married people we think that being committed to our marriage will lead us into a growing, intimate relationship with our spouse, but it never will.
Being committed to marriage sounds good. It helps our kids. It gives us resolve. It makes us feel better when we are miserable. It helps us stay in the marriage when we can’t stand to be in the same room with our spouse. It keeps us from filing for divorce when our ears hurt from just the sound of our spouse’s voice. It feels honorable. But here is my question…is that what you want? Is all you want for your marriage to just be able to stay; to cope; to survive; to not divorce? Was that your dream when you said, “I do.”? Being committed to your marriage will keep you married, but it won’t change your marriage.
If you want your marriage to change you have to be committed to your spouse. If you want your marriage to change you can’t just be committed to an institution, you have to recommit to a person. When you are committed to a person you are choosing them, not just choosing to stay. You are choosing to love, not just tolerate. You are choosing to forgive, not just sweep things under the rug. You are choosing more than just obedience, you are choosing them.
Being committed to your marriage will allow you to stay, but it won’t compel you to change. If you want a different marriage, you have to choose differently. You have to choose to be committed to your spouse. You will have to choose it tomorrow too…and the next day.