I really want to talk about commitment in marriage, but first, a word about our Keurig coffee maker. Spare me your opinions of Keurig/K-Cup coffee, but for the last 10 years, Kristen and I have owned a succession of Keurig coffee makers. I appreciate the convenience and ease of making a quick cup of coffee, and I enjoy the fact that I can get a variety of different K-cup roasts.
Each Keurig machine we’ve owned has a small water tank that, when filled, allows you to make 3-4 cups of coffee. For years it felt like I was the only one in our marriage who ever filled the water tank. Kristen makes almost as many cups of coffee as me, so you’d assume we’d each end up filling the tank about 50% of the time. But it sure didn’t feel that way to me.
Many times, I thought in my head, “Why am I the ONLY one who fills the tank? Doesn’t Kristen make coffee here as well? Does she think it’s MY job to fill the tank? It’s so unfair.” I soon found myself keeping an informal tally in my head of how often I filled the Keurig. I started keeping a list of wrongs for her and rights for me. I soon became the better spouse because I allegedly filled the Keurig water tank more often than her.
I’ll come back to the Keurig tank below. Your tally may not be the Keurig water tank, but I’m sure you have your own version in your marriage. I’ll share more below, but keeping a record of rights, and not wrongs, is of the best ways to build commitment in marriage. In Part 1 of this series on commitment I shared about constraint commitment that makes us feel stuck together in marriage. I also discussed dedication commitment, which is the type of commitment that helps us stick together with deep joy.
3 Ways to Grow Your Commitment in Marriage
1. Make Your Marriage A Priority
None of us have all the time we want to get it all done. Between bills, kids, jobs, spouse, hobbies, wellness, and so much more, we can’t crush it in every aspect of life. Unfortunately our marriage often gets squeezed out in the busy of life. At times I’ve chosen work, hobbies, and even kids over Kristen, and when I do, our marriage pays the price.
Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” The fool chooses the good over the great. Rather, we need to make decisions that show our marriage is a priority.
Yes, we need hobbies, time for ourselves, and have bills to pay and mouths to feed. But, if we don’t make our marriage one of the highest priorities, our marriage and commitment to each other will suffer. Sometimes you need to say “no” to hanging with friends, girls night out, or overtime at work. Go on a date, share what God is teaching you with your spouse, and make time for each other. When you do, you will grow your affection (and commitment) for each other.
Question: What can you do this week to help raise the priority level of your commitment in marriage? Can you make plans to go on a date together sometime this week?
2. Protect Your Marriage
Many couples spend too much time coveting the marriages or spouse of others. We look over their fence and covet their home. As a friend often says, “We need to quit looking over the fence at our neighbor’s grass and instead water our own!”
Stop thinking about being with someone other than your spouse. STOP! You made a commitment in marriage to each other and when you covet the life and spouse of another, you are in sin. Often we play the “What if” game: What if I married her? What if he never asked me to marry him—who would I be with? I wonder if they want out as well? I wonder what his muscles feel like and what they’re like in bed?
Make your marriage a priority (#1) and work to protect your marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” In a one flesh relationship, you belong to your spouse and your spouse belongs to you. You are one with each other. This means you close the door to all other romantic interests.
I once heard Michael Hyatt share something so helpful about his marriage. He uses “adultery repellant” to protect their marriage. This is when you speak so highly of your spouse, in front of them and behind their back, and it becomes very clear to all that you are very happily married.
Every year on our anniversary I share a list of reasons why I love my wife. Words alone don’t ensure fidelity and commitment, but they sure do help strengthen your commitment in marriage to each other.
Go get you a case of adultery repellant and protect your marriage!
Question: When’s the last time you encouraged your spouse to their face? What’s the last encouraging thing you said about them when you were not together?
3. Keep A Record Of Rights (Not Wrongs)
As referenced in the beginning of this post, I kept a list, in my mind, of how often I had to refill the Keurig water tank. Because I seemingly had to fill the tank more often than Kristen, I believed I was the better, harder working spouse.
Anyone who knows anything about our marriage knows the foolishness of this last sentence. Kristen works so hard to make sure the kids go to school, our family eats, and the house is clean. She prays with our boys every night before bed, and she runs errands for our family all week long. Somewhere along the way I realized how ridiculous it was that I kept track of how often I filled the Keurig tank. It’s so difficult to take off the tank, take 3 steps to my right, turn on the water, fill the tank, and put the tank back on the machine (insert sarcasm). You would think I was doing brain surgery every time I filled the tank.
In 1 Corinthians 13:6, Paul says love keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t keep a list of deficits and shortcomings, and it doesn’t keep a ranking of who’s the better spouse.
Rather, what if we kept a list of rights instead of wrongs? What if you paid attention to all the great things your spouse does instead of their mistakes? What if you noticed and affirmed them for the ways they serve you and your family?
Here are a few practical suggestions:
- For the next seven days, write down one admirable trait about your spouse. Keep a list on your phone or in your journal.
- Write down a few reasons why you’re thankful for your spouse every day. Again, keep a list in your journal or in the Notes app on your phone. You don’t need to show your list to your spouse, but the practice and habit of keeping a gratitude list will hopefully change the way you view your spouse.
- Tell your spouse why you’re thankful for them and how they’ve helped you become more like Jesus Christ. One of the greatest gifts of marriage is being one flesh with someone who helps you become like Jesus.
The Keurig water tank is a silly example of keeping a list of rights and wrongs, but I know for many of you, the list is real and the hurt is even more real. Thankfully, God does not keep a list of wrongs we’ve committed. Rather, while He is fully aware of our rights and wrongs, his love for us is great. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He does not count our sins against us, and instead sees followers of Christ as forgiven.
Question: Do you tend to keep a list of wrongs or rights? How can you more intentionally take note of your spouse’s rights and not wrongs?
In Part 3 of this series on commitment, I’ll share three more ways you can grow in your dedication commitment in your marriage. As a reminder, I want you to joyfully stick together, not just remain stuck together in marriage. Make your marriage a priority, protect your marriage, and keep a record of rights not wrongs.
What do you do to grow your commitment in marriage to your spouse?
This article about commitment in marriage originally appeared here, and is used by permission.