Ok, let’s just put it out there. If you want to improve your marriage, determine right now that divorce is not going to be an option for you. If you go into a marriage with that understanding, it gives your relationship a much better chance of lasting.
So many people seem to toss the word around casually, or use it as a way to coerce their spouse into doing what they want.
(Note: This post is a rant about selfishness in marriage. I know there are rare situations out there where a divorce would be warranted. This is about all the other situations.)
Oh, I know the world tells you that if things don’t work out, you can just divorce. No harm, no foul. This media-driven society tells us that it’s just fine to divorce your spouse if
- You’ve “Fallen out of love.”
- You’ve grown apart.
- You’d be happier with someone else.
- You’re too different of people.
- You have different parenting styles.
- You think your spouse needs to change, but won’t.
- Your sex life is lousy.
- You’re tired of being married.
Marriage is a commitment, and you made one. It’s not a childhood pinky swear. I mean seriously, can you picture a bride and groom standing at the altar with everyone watching as they “pinky swear” to love each other until it gets tough?
Commitment, a definition
Look at these definitions for commitment:
The original word came to be used first in the 1610s and meant an “action of officially consigning to the custody of the state,” from commit + -ment.
From around the year 1793, people used it to mean “the committing of oneself, pledge, promise.”
Since around 1864, the word has been used to mean, “an obligation, or an engagement.”
So the word initially referred to the act of consigning, or transferring something to another’s custody or charge. It meant giving something or someone over to the state to take care of.
When we commit by marrying someone, we are giving ourselves over to that person to take care of us.
Freedom in marriage
I know some of you are looking at the third definition of commitment as a bad thing. I guess that’s why people say that being married is being tied down. But it is not! There is freedom in a marriage for life, just like there is freedom in Christ for life.
Galatians 5:13-14 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Substitute “spouse” for the word neighbor. We find freedom in our commitments, both to our spouse and to our God.
I know that marriage restricts my actions. It forces me to think of another person before myself. My husband knows that I won’t cheat on him. He knows I’m not flirting with other guys. I love him as I love myself. And, honestly, I like the idea that my husband restricts his actions in the same way. He strives to love me as Christ loves the Church, and I can say, that’s not always easy.
Commitment or Pinky Swear?
When you say that divorce is not an option from the beginning, the trust level goes way up, and you are free to live your life knowing that no matter how you screw up, that person committed to you and didn’t just make a pinky swear.
Not using the word divorce removes a way to threaten your spouse. Threatening an end to the marriage is all but guaranteed to make the problem worse, not better, and it puts a seed of distrust and fear in your spouse’s heart.
Not using the word divorce puts more emphasis on fixing the problem you are facing right now, rather than running away from it, or looking for someone else. Here’s a hint–you’ll probably have the same issues with a different person, so why not just fix those issues now?
Did you make a commitment or a pinky swear to your marriage?
If you feel you need to make that commitment, go to your spouse and let them know that you don’t want to use the word divorce ever again. Tell them you are willing to do whatever it takes to make your marriage the best it can be, and you want them to know that you are in this “as long as you both shall live.”
Do those words sound familiar?