Make Your Marriage A Legacy,
Not A New Year's Resolution

by Stanley J. Leffew

You ever observe couples handling their marriage like a New Year's Resolution?

Yes, it's the time of year again when people everywhere start looking to change something about their life. Perhaps, it is having just come through the holiday season where the primary focus is "other-centered" that triggers this sudden interest in what we can change about who we are. Whatever it is, more people at this time of year than at any other decide to punch the clock at "ME, Incorporated." In other words, they go to work on themselves.

The number one New Year's Resolution is to lose weight, and every year at this time membership enrollments at fitness centers go through the roof as people become professional "fat assassins" and suit up to face the battle of the bulge.

Forget "Braveheart!" If you really want to see the donning of war paint, nerves of steal, raw courage, determination and the lifting up of the human spirit, visit a fitness center as the new year starts and observe all the people making a commitment to get in shape. In case you haven't noticed, though, you can't even spell commitment without the "ME" in it, and that is where the challenge sets in. A New Year's Resolution requires personal involvement.

This is why the first few weeks of a new year finds people motivated and inspired, but by the time we're shopping for valentines, the inspiration seems to change. Before long, this year's New Year's Resolution is set aside to be the focus of the next New Year. You see, commitment that exists based on the fuel of emotions, excitement, entertainment and any other external influence, doesn't last.

What if we handled the commitment we make to our marriage the same way many people handle a New Year's Resolution? The sad reality is that many do. They find commitment easier when emotions and feelings are flourishing, when a new relationship is exciting and is full of fun and entertainment. It is when the "ME" part of the commitment requirement in marriage relationships surfaces that the real challenge begins.

If you will indulge me for a moment, I would like for us to take a look at this thing called commitment and see if we can elevate the beauty found in lifetime relationships.

Commitment IS NOT about "SOUL MATE, SAPPY HAPPY"

Where did we ever buy into the idea that life and relationships revolve around our happiness? It seems that some have become such pleasure seekers that they believe their spouse's primary function is to meet their need to be happy. If they lose their smile in life, they start feeling discontented about their marriage and start wondering if they really have found their soul mate. They start to reason that their soul mate must still be out there and surely finding him/her will be the missing link to their happiness in life.

The theory behind this approach is that finding our one true soul mate will not only bring happiness, it will make commitment easy. In actuality, commitment is challenged with this mindset, because having to be the sole source of anyone’s happiness can suck the life right out of a person.

Soul mate, sappy happy may be popularized in movies, Hollywood, and romance books as moving from one person to another to find THE ONE, but real life commitment is about choosing to stand shoulder to shoulder with your mate to face all of life's stormy gales together, not trading them in for another when the tides turn.


I heard a song the other day that clarifies what I mean by this. In the song one, who has apparently lost in love, is observing his former girlfriend/spouse with her new love interest. The lyrics state:

"Oh, I never saw that look in your eyes,
And I never had you hold me that tight,
And I never saw you dance with your feet off the ground,
But I see it now”

You ever notice just how often songs, TV shows, and movies focus on the "appealing to my feelings" side of love and relationships?

Guess what!

Lasting relationships are not about dancing with your feet off the ground. Ask any couple in a long-term relationship, and they will tell you that the lasting joy of their marriage is in NOT having to be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to each other all the time. They will tell you how heartwarming it is to have someone who knows who they are and accepts them anyway.

Sometimes in the dance of relationship with my wife, my feet are not only firmly planted on the ground, they are getting stepped on. I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance.

Commitment IS NOT about "LET'S MAKE IDEAL"

Do you remember the game show, "Let's Make A Deal?" This game show had audience members trying to make a decision on what was behind three different doors. When they chose correctly, the contents behind the door held great value. When they chose incorrectly, the contents behind the door were less than ideal.

Some approach marriage and relationships just like this game show. I call it, "LET'S MAKE IDEAL." People caught up in this relationship trap choose their relationships like the audience of the game show chose doors. Their marriage lasts just long enough for them to see what is behind door number one and then wonder, if they had chosen a different door, would their relationship choice be more ideal.

There comes a time in relationships and marriage where we have to decide if we are going to keep the person and give up the ideal, or if we are going to keep the ideal and give up the person. I'm so glad my wife decided to keep the person and give up the ideal.

Commitment IS NOT about "CHARLIE’S ANGELS" Beauty

Good morning Angels!

I've always wanted to use that line.

When the TV show, Charlie's Angels, first began in the mid-70's, it was unbelievable the attention three women could receive. These women were idolized on TV, in magazines, and almost any other media outlet one could think of. Their posters became permanent fixtures in bachelor pads and men's locker rooms. Even their hairdos became the trend of the day.

Fast-forward twenty-five years to the big screen version of the Angels. Other than the obvious differences in graphics and action scenes, not much changed. Charlie was still illusive, Bosley was still their connection to Charlie and they still solved cases through undercover operations.

Oh, there was one big change. Newer, younger, voluptuous women were needed to play the roles of the Angels. Apparently, the originals no longer made the grade.

Some people handle relationships and their marriage this same way. They are so hung up on external beauty and looks that they miss the real beauty. When it comes to relationships, commitment is not based on external looks or body beauty. Attraction may get you in the game, but the person within is what gets you to the championship.

So, if you are ever tempted to throw in the towel on your mate because Father Time seems to be catching up with him/her, stop and reflect on the legacy of your lives together and simply say, "SORRY CHARLIE! I’m not going anywhere."

Commitment IS about LEGACY

There you have it!

As we have diagnosed some of these common misconceptions about commitment, it is my sincere hope that the value of lasting relationships has been elevated. I hope we have been able to see how important our relationship legacy really is.

The greatest people I know are people of character and commitment. The greatest people I know have a pursuit for something more permanent. The greatest people I know are people of promise. The greatest people I know find value and fulfillment in seeking relationships for a lifetime.

As you embrace a new year and a new you, my hope is that you will begin to experience the joy you can have when you make your marriage a LEGACY, not a NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION.

(C)Copyright Stanley J. Leffew

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