For many of us, the transition to marriage stems from our deep and passionate love for our partner. She is so lovely, soft, connecting, and giving. She understands me – she just knows exactly how to soothe my body and soul. I love her dearly and want nothing more than to make her mine, forever.
These sentiments are so beautiful, meaningful, and powerful. And while they may bring you to the altar, they have little to do with the marriage journey you are embarking on.
Because marriage isn’t about an expression of love. It is an expression of commitment. And commitment supersedes love. Commitment has its roots not in our heart, but in our will. Commitment is not dependent on our feelings. Actually, commitment transcends our feelings, and takes us much further than emotion could ever reach.
And just what is our marriage commitment? What exactly are we signing up for? In truth, that is between you and your partner. However, all successful marriages have much in common – sacrifice, goodwill, trust, compassion, support, and perhaps most importantly, a desire to grow together as one.
My job as a husband changes daily. Because my job as the man of the home revolves around my wife, my family, which is always shifting, always developing. At one point, my main job was provider while my wife spent her days (and nights) lovingly nursing, feeding, and raising our young children.
Over time, I’ve added such responsibilities as leader, teacher, and supporter to my resume, as my children have grown and need more of my time and influence. I became a volunteer private-school teacher for my children’s classes when their math teacher suddenly quit. And a horrible basketball coach for the local kids league when literally nobody else would do it.
One summer, my wife & I desperately wanted our children to attend camp, but they wouldn’t go alone. So we packed up the house, drove cross country, picked up a motorboat on the way there, and I became the camp “boat-director” for eight weeks so that we could be with them. I taught them waterskiing and wakeboarding and lovingly watched over them while at camp. Those summers were the best of my life, creating life-long memories with my children, as my father had done with me.
And as my wife has grown and branched out in life, so too has my responsibility towards her. I am her confidant, backbone, and guide. Sometimes, recently, the greatest gift I can give her is her own space to redefine herself, discover her latent talents, and support her in any way she needs to develop them. I build her websites, edit her articles, help her with marketing, and strategize with her on her future.
During my journey, there have been many times my heart has screamed “enough!”
During my journey, there have been many times my heart has screamed “enough!” The pressures of leading a home and family can be so intense, bringing you to your knees. The challenges of life alone are tremendous. Multiply this ten-fold when you are now responsible for a wife and children. Taking care of everybody is beyond what mere mortals are capable of, and yet we show up, day-by-day, overcoming our emotions, because this life is what we committed to. And, because others depend on you–they need you, whether you are feeling up to it today, or not.
But this journey is not only about sacrifice. At its core, it is about my own personal development as well. Learning patience and compassion. Developing strength and courage, and cultivating a level of fortitude and perseverance I never knew I was capable of. Getting close, and learning never to let go when I feel far. This is the gift of the life I have chosen, the life I’ve committed to, the life I’ve been blessed to lead.
Yes, I do all of the above with love, and because I am in love. But my heart is not my driving force. Rather, it is my desire, my will, to see my marriage-mission to its end – supporting and showing up for my family until they no longer need my strength, and can lead their own families down their own paths.
The cycle of the wedding ring begins with me, her, and my commitment to creating a life together. It forever circles around, driven by our will, and reaches its fulfillment with the next generation, placing rings upon the fingers of their beloved partners, to begin again, forever.