Think about your “I do” and make it a daily one. Ask, what will “I do” for my marriage today? It’s a powerful strategy for both the good times and the bad.

At a recent business conference, a speaker made an offhand remark about having to recommit to her marriage vows every day. It was in the context of a discussion about the challenges of change management and how reforming a company culture requires persistence and recommitment in the face of setbacks and resistance.

It was an unexpected analogy but what struck us was how readily it was accepted by the audience. It seemed to be common wisdom and is an observation many of us have probably made.

But how deeply do we live this truth: that life-long marriage requires a daily “I do” to be sustained?

In Good Times AND Bad

When things are cruising in our relationship, the need to recommit daily is less necessary and quickly forgotten. In the absence of being tested, our forbearance does not require the buttressing of our conscious rededication.

It is when the relationship is less fulfilling; when loving our spouse is more challenging, when we feel our needs are being starved to point of romantic death – it is then that the daily “I do” becomes essential.

At these troubled times, recommitting the rest of our life can be the very last thing we feel like doing. Doing this when we feel miserable can seem like strapping in for a no-return trip to outer space. How do we recommit in a situation like this?

One Day at a Time

Some years ago, the docudrama ‘Touching the Void’, retelling the true story of two mountain climbers, was released. Assuming his friend Joe is dead after he falls into a crevice, Simon returns to base camp. Meanwhile, Joe, who has a broken leg, manages to crawl along a ridge in the crevice. Over the next three days, he covers the five miles back to camp, without food or water, just in time to catch his friends before they depart.

In recounting the story, Joe talks about how he did it. He noted that when he thought about how far he had to go, he would slip into despair, and the pain would overwhelm him. So he focused instead on a snowdrift or ice formation about hundred yards from him. When he reached that landmark, he identified another. He simply did this over and over until he had crawled five whole miles in excruciating pain.

It’s a great insight into human nature and a wonderful life lesson for us as couples. Trying to recommit to an unfulfilling marriage for the rest of our life is like trying to crawl five miles in one go.

When things feel desperate, and we feel ourselves sinking into despair, we need to shorten our horizon and bring it in closer. Instead, focus on this day, or even the next few hours, and commit to that. We can do this repeatedly, and eventually, it becomes a habit and then second nature. Soon we can look back see that we’ve covered a great distance.

All the Days of My Life

This same strategy is used by our colleague, family therapist Bill Doherty. When he has a spouse struggling to stay in a difficult marriage, he knows that marriage therapy will be ineffective if they have one foot out the door. He also knows that asking them to recommit to the marriage indefinitely is not something they can do.

But they can often recommit for three months. And if they are prepared to do that, then the therapy has a chance to work in the relationship so that they start to see progress in their relationship, and with progress comes hope and renewed motivation.

So think about your “I do” and make it a daily one. But also make it a simple one: what will “I do” for my marriage today? It’s a powerful strategy for both the good times and the bad.

Originally published at Smart Loving. Image by Foto Pettine at Unsplash.

Published On: November 18th, 20210 CommentsTags: , , , ,

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

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