Summary: Discusses the commitment and spiritual, mental, emotional toughness required to fulfill our wedding vows. Ends with renewal of vows option.
Desperate Households—Part 1
Does one of the following describe your marriage?
You fell in love, the question was “popped”, the wedding was a wonderful success, and marriage is now a continual joyride for both of you.
You fell in love, the wedding was a mixture of stress and success, and marriage is a wagon-train trip across the plains and over the mountains of the old west.
You fell in love, the wedding was a series of problems to be solved, and marriage is a marathon run on a hot, summer day through hill country.
You fell in love, the wedding was an expensive headache, and marriage is a bloody gunfight at the OK Corral.
I am a big believer in marriage. I have never seen happier, more deeply satisfied people than men and women who have made their marriages work. But neither have I met many people in highly successful marriages who got there without an enormous expenditure of energy and determination.
TOUGHNESS IS THE ESSENCE OF MY COMMITMENT
Virtually every successful marriage requires toughness. Early in the marriage issues arise and the partners don’t have the necessary skills to manage them. They essentially have two choices: give up and run away, or get about the task of developing the required skills. Tough people always adopt the second alternative. They wouldn’t think of giving up.
When is the last time you considered the original promises you made to your spouse when you married? Those are some hard hitting, heavy duty vows!! Unfortunately they are often treated with incredible superficiality.
As a nation we have reached the edge of total family collapse.
I read a study of 100 couples in extremely healthy marriages—I was overwhelmed at the frequency with which they emphasized the critical importance of commitment. One man wrote, “Marriage demands toughness, and toughness proceeds out of commitment.”
Song: Tuff Enuff—(This will be included in the Fairmont DVD. Camera zooms in on singers and musicians and pans slowly. No lyrics will be displayed for this song)
Jeanette and Robert Lauer published the results of a powerful study a few years ago. They surveyed 351 couples married at least 15 years. 300 said they were happily married. They were asked to select from 39 statements the ones that best explained why their marriages had lasted. Two rated most important for both men and women were “marriage is a long-term commitment” and “marriage is sacred.”
They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns.  All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. 2 Chronicles. 15:14-15 (NIV)
"It has been said, ’Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32 (NIV)
You ask, "Why?" It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.  Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. …So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:14-15 (NIV)
TOUGHNESS GIVES ME TIME TO DEVELOP SKILL
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
Making two whole people one demands skills that aren’t taught in school. Commitment must lead to skill development. I have never witnessed a great marriage in which I viewed the partners as anything less than profoundly skilled.
Roll “Toilet Cleaner” Video Here
Most of these skills are not learned and developed until after the marriage begins.
Roll “Log In Eye” Video Here
So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matthew 19:6 (NIV)
Hundreds of thousands of marriages fall apart before the necessary skills can be developed because there is inadequate toughness.
I MUST TRAIN TO BE TOUGH ENOUGH
Training Phase # 1—Getting Real About My Expectations
 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--  for we are members of his body.  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." Ephesians 5:21-31 (NIV)