"Anyone who has been married for more than 5 minutes realizes that it takes much more to have a good marriage than we were ever told beforehand. It takes more than love, more than sincerity, more than compatibility, good communication skills, or hard effort. It takes more than a good upbringing, more than a romantic nature, a willingness to listen, or mega doses of 'quality time.' These alone will eventually prove inadequate to bind one imperfect person to another, forever." (Dr. Ronn Elmore)
A truly good marriage --one that pleases the heart of God, takes an OUTRAGEOUS COMMITMENT!!! Read further for more insights on this subject by Dr. Elmore (from his book, "An Outrageous Commitment" -published by Harper Resource):
"We label something outrageous when its benefits aren't plainly in view but we are called upon to do it anyway. Unconditional love seems outrageous to us when the object of that commitment has by no means earned it, or when it demands more of our resources than we're willing to dispense. "Something as slight as a kiss can seem like an outrageous offer after our mate has broken a promise, or ignored a request we've made. Somehow we've come to believe love is a finite, irreplaceable commodity that we could use up. "Still, our souls desire something this high and pure; something that makes ordinary marriages extraordinary, struggling marriages as solid as granite, and dead marriages resurrected to new life. In spite of our best arguments against it, self-sacrifice is the facet of love that most reflects the height, the depth, the width, and the breadth of God's love for you. "Along with many qualities that I loved about my wife, Aladrian, there were others that I soon discovered were not to my liking. In spite of my most earnest efforts to change her to fit my expectations, she persisted in being genuinely herself.
"In those early days, suddenly being married and living life in full view of someone else was especially traumatic to her. She was often moody, prone to depression, and struggling to set personal goals and pursue them confidently. "I valued cool, unemotional determination and sure-footed decisiveness. She struck me as self-indulgent and timid --qualities I abhorred. I offered Aladrian reasonable amounts of sympathy and good advice and expected change to be soon coming. It was not.
"She found me disappointingly unfeeling and marked by the kind of independence that suggested I didn't need anybody --including my wife -- for anything. She made it clear to me that what she really needed from me wasn't another day of my advice and pity.
"She needed me to halt what she termed my 'cold, clinical analysis' of her and my pained facial expressions that portrayed contempt. She wanted me to make the commitment to treat her as if it mattered to me that she was there -to hold her close, but to keep all my diagnoses to myself.
Outrageous! "Outrageous commitment, and the self-sacrificing acts that demonstrate it, are hard to explain, let alone defend. It is unearned, often unappreciated, and not always reciprocated. Sacrificing our own interests for the sake of another person disarms our tendency toward self- centeredness. Making lofty vows to each other takes little effort. Keeping them, however, will take all your strength and much more besides. It is not to be accomplished by well-kept rules, but by your willing embrace of selfless sacrifice. "You may have demonstrated outrageous commitment and not known it. Wherever it exists it will show itself in abundantly practical, observable ways like:
* "Waking up each morning and deciding, yet again, to offer your best today --in spite of what happened yesterday.
* "Deciding to keep talking about and planning for your future together, even when the present is troubling.
* "Delaying (or sacrificing altogether) the night out, the exciting vacation, the new car, or any long-awaited pleasure, because you need to take a loss at this time so that your mate can gain something infinitely more valuable.
* "Giving the one you love the space to show he/she is profoundly human, but not in danger of losing your devotion because of it.
* "(Or like in my case) making your feelings known to your spouse by investing the extra time and effort to make your desires sound like requests, not demands.
"Outrageous commitment is in making and keeping vows like these that transcend mere marriage and establish holy matrimony."
Cindy and I believe that if we're going to become "Outrageously Committed" to one another, we will also need to understand something else that Elmore noted:
"In marriage, your self-sacrifice will not always be noticed, appreciated,or reciprocated; but it has the power to disarm our natural tendency toward passionate self-centeredness."
In other words, we're not going to employ these principles for any other reason than to love our spouse the way we're commanded and expected by God to love.
"Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2). Jesus Christ loved us so much that He gave Himself up for us ...now THAT is outrageous love! It's also the type of love we are to lavish upon our spouse, as God's colleague in loving them.
May it be so ...so help us God!