Committed to Celebration

Some time ago Lindsay and I realized that most of the long-married Christian couples we knew seemed to tout one value as the core of their marriage: commitment. Of course, commitment is a good thing. Marriage is, in essence founded on a promise. But too often, it seemed that the promise being focused on was merely to stay together; not to get divorced. Marriage requires this kind of commitment, but when we focus on this aspect of marriage we miss its core.

Almost a year ago now, on our second anniversary in Napa Valley, we tried to capture this insight on a bottle of wine we had enjoyed. We collaged these words:

In two years together we decoded an essential secret: the calling of marriage is not to burdensome reliability but to lifelong spouse-celebrating! So that you are transformed into a living spectacle of frequent wild urges to romance the love of your life! Our next step is just to do live it out.

What this means is that divorce is not the enemy of is merely its defeat. The enemy of marriage is apathy in the pursuit of spouse-celebration. We're given one life, and a handful of relationships to learn to love, so that in the age to come...we might love all with the passion we have learned to love a few.


  1. What does it mean to "spouse-celebrate," why would this be elevated over the value of commitment?

    Happiness was never a promise given by God... and God's commitment doesn't waver in relation to us when we make him unhappy.

  2. Do explain, please.

    To the previous poster, I don't get the drift from Chris's post that commitment and celebration are mutually exclusive in the sense that one is elevated above the other. But one can choose to prioritize celebration in the everyday commitment, rather than entering a marriage with the idea that one will merely tolerate/endure one's spouse - looking on the negative side, if you will. I read spouse-celebration as an above-and-beyond kind of commitment - "committing to celebrate."

    Thoughts, Chris?

  3. Anonymous 2 is right, I think the whole matter can be seen as positive and negative sides to the same commitment. Too much focus on the negative side (I commit to stay married, regardless) to the exclusion of the positive (I commit to grow in appreciation and love for you) does not result in the kind of relationship that is God's intent for marriage.

    Of course, not every day is a happy day in marriage, and so the negative commitment (I commit to stay married, regardless) is essential. But often once going through a season of just holding on, spouses forget the more positive dimension of their commitment.

  4. To anonymous 1: spouse-celebrating means learning to see them as God does. Disciplining the mind to notice their beauty and character before their warts and weaknesses. Sometimes this takes actually scheduled effort. There have been times where I have purposefully set aside daily time to reflect on Lindsay's strengths.

    In effect, it is not so different than devotional meditation on God's attributes SO THAT we might come see God as he is and love him rightly. Training our attention on our spouses blessings positions us to love them as they ought to be loved, and as they are by God.