Marriage is full of responsibilities. For some this is a burden that tarnishes the appeal of long-term love. For others, it is what makes marriage special. We’re forced to challenge ourselves to meet the lofty obligations of a lifelong commitment to the same person.
These challenges aren’t easy. And many of us falter along the way.
Truth be told, domesticity isn’t glamorous. Over time frustrations mount; incompatibilities can add to the relationship challenges; competing priorities pull at us. And, as a result, we may lose sight of commitments we’ve made; we go back on our word; our vision and motivation can wane; and in this difficult mix, the temptation to somehow escape the pressures of our life can lead us to betray our partner (as well as betray ourselves in the process).
Commitment is vital to a long-term relationship for this very fact. And it is our commitment to our partner/spouse that is designed to keep us focused through turbulent times.
Commitment is a beacon to keep us on track.
Maintaining a Committed Relationship: Holding Steady with an Accountability Partner
You may already have an accountability partner in your life without even realizing it. An accountability partner is someone who helps you hold onto your goals—like a motivational coach who supports and encourages you when you need it. This person isn’t going to simply tell you what you want to hear. Instead, they’ll remind you of the bigger picture when you get discouraged or overwhelmed.
Some examples include an exercise partner who helps you stay on track with workouts; someone you’re trying to lose weight with or quit smoking with who helps you resist temptation; the go-to friend who helps you see the good in your life when you’ve slipped into only seeing the bad. In short, when you ask yourself, “Why the heck am I doing this?!”, this person reminds you of the answer.
Accountability partners are used widely in certain self-help programs. It is the person you can go to for added strength when you start to feel pulled under.
But why not find an accountability partner to help you stay committed in one of the most important facets of your life: your relationship or marriage?
This is exactly what Terrance did, and it made all the difference.
Meet Terrance and His Renewed Commitment to Married Life
According to Terrance, he used to hang out with the wrong crowd. Single friends who liked to party on the weekends, which usually meant going to bars, drinking excessively and hooking up with women. The problem for Terrance is that he is married. And, like many of us, the way he spent his time had a powerful impact on him. In this case, the more he hung out with these friends, the more he started feeling resentful that he was married.
One day Terrance was talking to Stephen, a coworker Terrance enjoyed spending time with. Stephen declined Terrance’s invitation to go for drinks over the weekend, sharing that he didn’t feel “strong enough” to put himself in that type of environment. At first Terrance thought that meant Stephen was a recovering alcoholic. But alcohol wasn’t a problem for Stephen. In fact, he often had a few beers while watching sporting events with his wife or friends.
He explained that he and his wife were going through a rough period and he didn’t want to place himself in circumstances where single people were looking to meet each other. Instead, Stephen was going to his weekly meeting with a group of men who discussed the gifts and challenges of married life. “We talk about the type of husbands we want to be and what gets in the way of this. We hold each other accountable…”
This really got Terrance’s attention. He had never heard of such a thing. In fact, when he got together with friends, the conversation usually morphed into complaining about their wives or partners. Stephen invited Terrance to join them. That was two years ago and Terrance has only missed one meeting. (“And that was only because I had a bad case of the flu!” he said.)
As Terrance explained:
“One of the most powerful moments for me came when one guy was talking about how difficult his girlfriend was being. I thought everyone was just going to jump in and say, ‘You’re right man, what’s wrong with her?’ But instead they asked things like, ‘What do you think she’s struggling with that you may not be aware of?’ ‘How can you support her?’ It was so different from everything I was used to. Talk about a change in perspective!”
An accountability partner can be just one person. Someone you respect. Someone you trust. Someone who holds the same marriage or relationship values as you. A pro-relationship, pro-commitment buddy who doesn’t fan the flames of negativity whenever you talk about marital or relationship problems; instead, your accountability partner should help you focus on what might be preventing the forward movement you desire. (But it’s best for your accountability partner to be someone other than your spouse/partner.)
Do you know someone in a committed relationship who can play the role of an accountability partner to help you become the best spouse/partner possible? You can even act as accountability partners for each other if that arrangement would work.
Remember, while we are ultimately responsible for ourselves and our own actions, it isn’t a sign of weakness to access support when we need it. (Quite the contrary, it’s a sign of strength and maturity and thoughtfulness.) After all, life is pretty difficult at times. Why go it alone when there might be someone who can lend a helping hand?
Featured image “Businessmen shaking hands” by Stockimages. Freedigitalphotos.net.