“Well, in spite of what happened, I am committed to this marriage!”
At first glance that statement, spoken in the midst of a struggling or failing marriage, sounds encouraging, hopeful, even heroic. And to a great degree, a commitment to not give up or walk away in times of marital turmoil is critical to the restoration or rebuilding of a damaged relationship.
However, there is a potential hidden flaw in that declaration – the person saying it is asserting a commitment to an institution– marriage – not to the personto whom they are married. As such, the focus may be primarily on “staying married “– but not be on loving the other person or trying to meet the needs of the other person or even paying attention to the other person.
With a posture like that, additional hurt and pain can be inflicted on a spouse, all in the name of “making this marriage work.”
After twenty years of pastoral counseling, I would much prefer married couples to be committed to each other, not simply to marriage. God’s direction in Ephesians 5 is “husbands, love your wives,”not “husbands, stay committed to the institution of marriage.”I think God is fully aware that a person can be (and stay) in a marriage without any kind of meaningful or growing relationship with the person to whom they are married. The inanimate object (marriage) must never be held in higher regard than the person sitting across the room.
And before we leave this discussion, let me draw a quick spiritual parallel.
Somethings I think we can become so committed to the “church” – attending services and studies, serving in ministries, maintaining a building, participating in outreach, etc – that we can easily and unintentionally lose sight of the person of Jesus Christ, the one to whom we should be committed.
May this be a week where we are “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)