She says: “I noticed for some time that Michael, my husband, had been emotionally distant from me and was treating our children coldly. His behavior changed soon after we were connected to the Internet, and I suspected that he was viewing pornography on the computer. One night after the children had gone to bed, I cornered him, and he confessed that he had been viewing pornographic Web sites. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I completely lost trust in him. To make matters worse, a workmate had recently started to express a romantic interest in me.”
He says: “Some time ago my wife, Maria, discovered a picture stored on our computer and confronted me about it. When I admitted that I regularly visited pornographic Web sites, she was livid. I felt horribly embarrassed and very guilty. I thought it was the end of our marriage.”
WHAT do you think happened to Michael and Maria’s relationship? You may think that viewing pornography was Michael’s main problem. But as Michael came to realize, this vice was really a symptom of a deeper issue—a lack of commitment to the marriage. When Michael and Maria were first married, they looked forward to a life of shared love and enjoyable experiences. Like many couples, though, their commitment to the marriage waned over time, and they seemed to drift apart.
What Is Commitment?
Jehovah God designed marriage to bring a couple deep-seated joy and contentment. He intended for a man to “rejoice with [his] wife” and for a woman to love her husband and to feel that her husband loves her as he does his own body. (Genesis 2:22-24; Proverbs 5:18; Ephesians 5:28) To create that sort of bond, a couple must learn to trust each other. Equally important, they need to develop a lifelong friendship. They will form a bond the Bible describes as being so close that it is as if the two people were “one flesh.”—Matthew 19:5.
“Commitment, therefore, could be likened to the mortar that binds the bricks of a sturdy house. Mortar is made from a combination of ingredients, including sand, cement, and water.”
Similarly, commitment is formed from a combination of such factors as duty, trust, and friendship. What may weaken that bond?
How to Strengthen Commitment
A key factor is humbly to apply the advice of God’s Word, the Bible. By doing so you will “benefit yourself” and your mate. (Isaiah 48:17) Consider just two practical steps you can take.
1. Make your marriage a priority.
“Make sure of the more important things,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Philippians 1:10) In God’s eyes, the way a husband and wife treat each other is very important. A man who honors his wife will be honored by God. And a woman who respects her husband has “great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Peter 3:1-4, 7.
How important is your marriage to you? Usually, the more important an endeavor, the more time you spend on it. Ask yourself: ‘Over the past month, how much time did I set aside just to spend with my mate? What specific things have I done to reassure my mate that we are still good friends?’
TRY THIS: Write on a piece of paper the following five categories: money, work, marriage, entertainment, and friends. Now number the list according to what you believe to be your spouse’s priorities. Ask your mate to do the same about you. When completed, exchange lists with your mate. If your mate feels that you are not investing enough time and energy in the marriage, discuss what changes you may need to make to strengthen your commitment to each other. Also, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to take more of an interest in the things that are important to my mate?’
2. Avoid all forms of infidelity.
Jesus Christ said: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) When a person engages in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, he or she delivers a devastating blow to the union, one that the Bible says is grounds for divorce. (Matthew 5:32) However, Jesus’ words quoted above show that a wrong desire can exist in the heart long before a person actually engages in the physical act of adultery. Entertaining that wrong desire is in itself a form of betrayal.
To maintain your commitment to your marriage, make a solemn pledge not to view pornography. Despite what many may say, pornography is poison to a marriage. Note the way one wife expresses her feelings about her husband’s viewing habits: “My husband says that watching pornography spices up our love life. But it just makes me feel that I’m worthless, that I’m not enough for him.
The faithful man Job expressed his commitment to his marriage and to his God by making ‘a covenant with his eyes.’ He was determined not to ‘show himself attentive to a virgin.’ (Job 31:1)
In addition to avoiding pornography, you need to guard your heart from forming an inappropriate attachment to a member of the opposite sex. True, many feel that flirting with members of the opposite sex does no harm to a marriage. But God’s Word warns us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
TRY THIS: If you find yourself attracted to someone other than your mate, limit your contact with that one to only what is necessary and keep all encounters on a purely professional level. Do not focus on ways in which you think this person is superior to your mate. Instead, focus on your mate’s positive qualities. (Proverbs 31:29) Recall the reasons why you fell in love with your mate. Ask yourself, ‘Has my mate really lost these qualities, or have I become blind to them?’
Take the Initiative
Michael and Maria, quoted at the outset, decided to ask for advice on how to resolve their issues. Of course, seeking advice is just the first step. But by being willing to face their problems and seek help, both Michael and Maria sent a clear message that they are committed to their marriage, that they are willing to work hard to make it succeed.
Whether your marriage is stable or strained, your mate needs to know that you are committed to making the marriage a success. Take whatever appropriate steps are necessary to convince your mate of that fact. Are you willing to do that?
ASK YOURSELF . . .
- What activities could I cut back on to allow more time for my mate?
- What could I do to assure my mate that I am committed to our marriage?
Photo Credits: Inmagine-ucsi018179-photo; dp1780135