In 1519, Hernán Cortés a Spanish conquistador, landed in on the shores of Veracruz, Mexico with 500 men and 11 ships, with a mission to conquer the Aztecs and colonize the country for Spain. He’s perhaps best known for ordering his men to burn their ships once they hit the shore, thus forcing them to accept the fact that there was no turning back. Many historians attribute this strategy as one of the keys to his surprising defeat of the powerful Aztec nation that vastly outnumbered Cortés’ small band of soldiers.
You may be wondering, “What does Cortés have to do with successful, healthy marriages?”
Here ya go- he provided an applicable lesson for success: Retreat is easy if you have an option.
While their success wasn’t guaranteed, Cortés wanted every man’s commitment, his whole, entire heart in the adventure.
Another way to say this is, partial commitment isn’t.
Like Cortés’ men, marriage partners who realize the best chance for success is when they agree together that retreat is not an option, their all out efforts are most often rewarded with a lifetime of fulfillment and success. When the medieval English people understood this truth when they incorporated the “till death us depart” in their earliest versions of the Book of Common Prayer.
The common denominator is commitment.
Commitment is critical to success. Nothing of significance can be achieved without commitment. This is true in business, personal growth and especially in relationships, and especially in marriage, the most committed relationship one can enter.
Time out: If your marriage ended in divorce, this blog is not a shame and blame piece. Far too many people have endured a spiritually and emotionally abusive marriage for the sake of keeping their vows. God does not want you to be unsafe. Get to a safe place. Separation may be a very wise step, which will provide safety and a chance to heal and seek wisdom for the next best steps.
If you’re married, or going to marry, go all in, forward together, through the battles that will surely come your way.
In the counseling office, I often meet with individuals who look back upon a failed marriage with many emotions, because they know in their heart of hearts, they retreated, perhaps too quickly. Now they wonder what could have been. I don’t think you want to be that person.
Now dating, that’s waaaay different. Dating is just what you do until someone better comes along. It is really, really wise to have an option for retreat in dating relationships. Go slow and keep your eyes open to determine if this person is truly someone with whom you are willing to go to battle, without a retreat option. If so, a glorious future lies ahead for those who will persevere.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.