Feelings Versus Commitment in Marriage and Divorce

Feelings Versus Commitment  in Marriage and Divorce In the old traditional Methodist wedding vows, we find the following:

In the name of God,
I, Name, take you, Name, to be my wife,
to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
until we are parted by death.
This is my solemn vow.

In our temple wedding sealing ceremonies we have our own serious marital vows. So, what is the purpose of such vows? Why do traditional religions include serious vows as a part of their weddings? There are two reasons from what I can tell. One is that when covenants in the marriage include a commitment to God, that elevates the seriousness of the vows by including that third authoritative party. Second, when there is a commitment to the other spouse to stay committed even when times might be worse, when poorer, during poor health and during other tough, stressful times in life, that is what makes for a strong commitment. That two people will stay together, even though _____ may happen and even when _____ occurs. Such commitments help ensure that the marriage will survive and continue, despite hard and stressful times.

Unfortunately, modern living basically promotes the opposite. Marriages today are often stayed in only as long as the positive, fun, easy times are occurring—when times are better, finances are strong, everyone is physically healthy, and otherwise things are basically going well. However, when the fair weather turns to bad weather, it becomes a question of when, not if, the marriage will be ending. Now, many people may be tempted to say, “but Randy, what about when major abuse, addictions, and/or infidelity has occurred? Aren’t those good/valid reasons for getting a divorce?” My answer: maybe so, although conditions vary and the ultimate answer to this comes down the individual and the direction they receive from God through prayer. However, what about when one of these three serious conditions did not occur, but someone wants to get a divorce anyway? Well, that is up to the individual and if this choice to divorce violates the Lord’s will, that person will ultimately answer to the Lord.

Uncomfortable Feelings that Can Tempt a Person to Divorce:

*Stress: stress can basically be defined as feelings associated with adapting or adjusting to notable changes, challenges, and pressures in life. This can include such things as the challenges associated with parenting, career, money, physical illness or injury, moves, and many other pressures and changes that happen through life.

*Boredom: when there is a lack of excitement and stimulation in life, feelings of boredom commonly result. Potential causes of boredom might include working too many hours, extended time with/around the children, not having the time or money for hobbies or travel, not having the money to buy the things we want, and so on. Others are bored in their relationship because there is a lack of marital quality time together.

*Resentment/Frustration: when we feel we have been mistreated by the other through neglect, disrespect, and/or abusiveness, we will naturally feel resentment towards the other due to the mistreatment. Not being treated how we want and need to will also result in feelings of frustration. So, feelings or resentment and frustration are intertwined and intensify each other.

Suggestions and Final Thoughts:

Many will read my article here and say to themselves, “is there a point when enough of those 4 feelings justify or validate getting a divorce?” I know that is the world’s way but not necessarily the Lord’s way. Again, such a choice is best made after the person considering such a choice praying and getting divine clarity.

Before and perhaps instead of divorcing, consider learning to deal with these four challenging feelings better. First, find your own better ways to grapple with feelings of stress, boredom, resentment, and frustration (instead of putting it primarily on the other spouse), and second, promote/support the other spouse to also better grapple with these challenges. It is beyond the scope of this little article to review all of these ways to accomplish these 2 goals. However, proactively working at these two goals involves maximizing where you have the most power, control, and influence with the situation. You can’t “make” the other person change or try harder—although your influence with the other person can greatly impact whether they make a better effort or not.

If you go to www.ldsdimension.com/articles you can read whatever previous articles best apply to the needs, issues, and challenges you may require additional help with. I would particularly recommend my article on how to have positive influence and persuasion with your partner, found here: https://www.ldsdimension.com/articles/persuasion-skills-148/.

I also recommend to read or listen to the two classic self-help books, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, as well as Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman. Why consider making these effort instead of divorcing? Because marriage is hard but worth it. And marriages are serious commitments that are not to be easily disposable—especially temple marriages. The formula for marital success is to simply 1) pick well, then 2) nourish well. Follow that formula and success will follow in most cases. Finally, remember that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Dr. G
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at drgilchrist@yahoo.com.

2024-06-02 Carly Gordon Healthy relationships

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