When I think of marriage, I think of commitment for life.
I think of everlasting love.
Having that “partner in crime” every day by my side.
And, of course, a dreamy fairytale wedding.
But marriage is so much more than that. And the research shows it.
In Australia, one in three marriages will break down.
In a way this fact kind of boggles me, because the act of marriage implies that each partner is ready to commit. But marriage isn’t as simple as a readiness to commit and an exchange of rings.
What am I committing to in marriage?
In marriage, commitment is a lasting pledge to practice daily caring and communication; sharing and sacrifice; learning and liberation; respect, reconciliation and responsibility; trust and teamwork; humility and humour; and appreciation and active participation in our relationship.
It is about intentional relating as a couple because together we are one.
Now, this isn’t one easy task.
Relationships take work, and they will be tested during everyday life and the challenges that are thrown our way. And so conflict is inevitable, particularly for two different persons merging into one trajectory.
How we deal with conflict in our marriage is possibly the measure of dedication to our union and of respect for each other. Resolving conflict is foundational to staying married.
What causes conflict after marriage?
Sadly, sometimes in our quest to better ourselves, our relationships, or our productivity (etc), we reach a position of “When worthiness of love becomes a matter of passing tests and fulfilling conditions, [so that] we begin to experience more failure than success.” (John Powell, SJ, The Secret of Staying in Love, Argus, 1974).
So when we set these conditions for our partner to meet, and obsess over whether they are meeting these conditions, conflict arises and we may slowly forget the real reason why we married – the love and commitment each shares for the other.
A genuine acceptance of self and partner knows that no one is perfect, and everyone is different. Each of us is the sum of many parts.
Recognising our complementary strengths and weaknesses builds confidence and grows love. Love renews and we learn to love more by loving. Loving is Commitment.
How can I renew my marriage commitment?
Here are some beautiful ways you may decide to re-establish or renew the commitment you have with your partner:
- Read or recite your wedding vows – or make them into a piece of hanging art to display in your home.
- Think about the true meaning behind your marriage. How did you feel when you decided to pop the question – or when you said “yes”?
- Celebrate anniversaries together. Taking time out of your schedule to celebrate your marriage with your partner can be really special.
- Promise one another that you’ll always try to work through conflict, and argue respectfully. Everyone handles anger and conflict differently – so talk about how you will deal with conflict in the future.
Marriage and Relationship Education Team, and Liz Gellel - Communications Coordinator