Q: Marriage sometimes seems to be so not worth it when you have much frustration on both sides. When people are reared in families where commitment was not well practiced, it sometimes almost seems easier to quit. What do we need to think about to strengthen our commitment?
A: First, get some encouragement by getting a referral to a good marriage therapist, one who is skilled, competent, connecting and pro-marriage, who can help you learn communication and conflict resolution skills.
Second, contemplate the reasons to stay in a committed relationship that are taught by both Old and New Testaments. The marriage research team headed by Scott Stanley at the University of Denver gives the following biblical motivations (A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage):
(a) We are to have as our family agenda the other person’s welfare: Ruth and Naomi modeled this kind of relationship. They would have been within their rights to separate, but they put the other person’s needs before their own (Ruth 1:16-23).
(b) As a couple, we have a shared story and identity: Jesus talked about the two becoming one. Part of this means that, as a rule, staying within that shared identity is advantageous for both. (Matt. 19:6)
(c) As God’s people we desire to honor a sacred covenant. Malachi 2:13-16 describes a time in Israel’s history when covenants were discarded on a whim and idolatry was the result. Covenant agreements are sacred in part because our welfare is a consideration in the wise plan of a loving God.
(d) We are given the example of Christ. Philippians 2:3-5 explains how Christ models for us sacrificial living for others, and this is crucial in our relationship with our spouse.
(e) The fuel for marriage to get you through hard times is agape love (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Lean into Christ’s love during the tough times.
(f) We succeed best when we take the long view. We are able to weather the inevitable storms, the ups-and-downs of life, when we keep in mind the long-term goal of a lifetime of friendship with our beloved. When we see it as a long-term investment, we will be more motivated to making daily deposits of love.