Is commitment really the main thing?
I'm actually not sure about that.
After all, no one walks down the aisle with the intention of an expiration date.
Not only that, but I've seen commitment-only relationships that devolve into these weird joyless power struggles rather than the vibrant thriving marriages that people desire. Do we think God really intended for us to simply grit our teeth and tough it out? There doesn't seem to be any joy in that.
As I was thinking on these things, I read a paragraph this week that seems to capture my own experience:
God gives us desires,
gives us desires for justice, compassion, organization, order, beauty, knowledge, wisdom—
and when we become separated from these desires, we lose something vital to who we are. For many of us, we learned quickly how to adapt, what authority figures wanted from us and how to play the game. This can be good, and profitable, and can earn us all sorts of attention and accolades, but this can also violate who we are. We can become enslaved to the expectations of others, losing our true self in the process. (Rob Bell, from What We Talk About when We Talk About God)
I think the key to a successful marriage isn't actually in the marriage. I think it is in ourselves. In becoming our true selves. We all have desires thwarted. We all get hurt. And we all tend to create these work arounds to get along in the world. The thing is that it leaves us with all of this awkward scaffolding that makes things run smoothly, but soon becomes something that gets in the way of our authentic selves.
There is something beautiful about the vulnerability and openness of reality. About laying the scaffolding aside to risk being hurt or rejected. The thing is there are so many layers of unreality that I don't even think we see them. We interrelate as versions of ourselves rather than the true thing. A simple way to see this is in makeup. We women rarely wear our true faces out into the world. Men, you aren't off the hook. You do it too. Only for you it is probably in how you talk about your accomplishments. It takes effort to learn who we really are and to lay aside what others expect us to be.
Being real requires taking responsibility. Blaming our spouse for anything is simply scaffolding. We are the ones who have to connect with our own desires and to find out why God put them there. We all have purpose. We are all "fearfully and wonderfully made." We were also made to live in relationship and community. Our hearts long for that. The thing is, we can't heal our relationships if we are dealing with avatars. We can only do that from the heart of our authentic selves. And that takes some work to see and become.