Don’t fall into the trap of saying you don’t need some ceremony or some ink stains on a piece of paper to prove your commitment. Marriage is the ultimate manifestation of commitment, and it is what gets us through the hard times!
Editor's Note: This is the third installment in a three part series on Commitment. Click here for the preface to this series, here for article 1 and here for article 2
Singer John Legend was the commencement speaker at our son's recent graduation from U Penn, and he talked about his song "All of me." It is a song about the magic of commitment, where "All of me loves all of you."
Part two of the trilogy was about Marriage as Adventure.
And this article, part three, is about Marriage as Magic.
Of course marriage can be thought of as a responsibility, which it certainly is. It can be thought of as a duty and as a sacrifice and as a challenge too, all of which would be accurate. And these words would also be fitting descriptions for the children and family that usually come with marriage.
But if those were the only contexts for marriage, we might miss the most important and the most fantastic aspects of what it is and what it can be. We might miss the "all of me loves all of you" part, and we might miss the magic of knowing Marriage as synergy! Marriage as Adventure! Marriage as the ultimate security and joy!
We knew a very successful coach who seemed to somehow be able, every season, to create a winning team out of mediocre talent. When we asked him how he did it, he said, "It's all about the commitment!" Commitment, in his mind, meant loyalty and teamwork and unwavering determination. Total commitment, he told us, was much more rare than talent. Commitment meant you never gave up, no matter what the score, no matter how long the odds. Commitment meant you cared more about the team than about yourself.
To that coach, courage and risk and devotion and determination were all manifest in the concept of commitment. It was what got you through tough situations. It was what freed you from doubt and from second-guessing. It was what made you "all in" and banished any thought that perhaps this was not the right game or the right team for you.
It can be the same in marriage. Once there is the total commitment of marriage, things become much more simple and much more positive. When disagreements happen, you just do what you have to do to work through them. There is no thought of jumping ship or second-guessing about whether you knew each other well enough before marriage. Total commitment is unquestioned, and it is so strong that it makes mow-hills out of what could otherwise be mountains.
When marriage is built on total commitment — when we absolutely mean our vows of "in sickness and in health," "in easy times and hard," life takes on a certain purpose and clarity. Bailing out or giving up is never an option, so you don't waste time or mental energy contemplating it. You just work through things, believing in each other and believing in your commitment.
Don't fall into the trap of saying you don't need some ceremony or some ink stains on a piece of paper to prove your commitment. Don't look for ways to commit without formalities and rings and vows. Instead look for more of these symbols to safeguard and solidify your commitment. Marriage is the ultimate manifestation of commitment!
And there is a certain magic in this kind of total "never-look-back" commitment. It makes you strong. It makes you resilient. It frees up your mind and your heart to know things and feel things you couldn't access without it. And it allows you to give your partner the greatest gift and the most profound security imaginable — the gift of yourself and the security of knowing that you will always be hers — only hers, and she will always be yours — only yours.
Paraphrasing the words of John Legend's song:
I love all of you….I love your edges, your imperfections, your craziness, all of you, all in, always. You're my end and my beginning, even when I lose I'm winning. The world is beating you down, I'm around through every mood. My head's under water but I'm breathing fine 'cause I give you all of me and you give me all of you.