Commitment is the glue of the marriage foundation. The root cause of all marriage problems is in the marriage foundation. Without commitment, one or both partners will not make the effort to meet each other’s 13 personal needs, or communicate with emotional intelligence. In this article, I will cover why commitment is so important, the benefits of being committed, and how to develop commitment in your marriage.

How committed are you to your partner and marriage, right now? I’m serious. The answer will be addressed throughout the article. Are you 25% committed? 50%? 75%? 90%? 100%?

Let’s begin.

The Marriage Foundation

Your marriage is only as strong as the marriage foundation. There are three parts to the marriage foundation.

Part 1

Meet Each Other’s 13 Personal Needs

What do you need in your marriage? How would you define your needs? When I ask someone what their needs are, they can usually come up with 2 to 4 needs. That’s a great start, but the reality is that you have 13 Personal Needs. Surprised? These needs cover three categories: Love Needs, Emotional Needs, and Human Needs. When you and your partner meet each other’s 13 Personal Needs, the bond between you and your partner is unbreakable.

part 2

Communicate with Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a fancy term to describe how well you understand your own emotions, the emotions of your partner, and how well you can regulate your own emotions. Conflict is often the result of a lack of Emotional Intelligence. Develop these skills and you’ll be able to help yourself and your partner through tough times.

part 3


Commitment is how dedicated you are to your partner and marriage. I call commitment the glue of the marriage foundation. When one or both partners are not committed to the marriage, the marriage will suffer greatly. One or both partners will not make the sacrifices or make the effort to meet each other’s needs, or learn the skills to communicate with emotional intelligence. Commitment is absolutely required to make a marriage work. Commitment is the third piece of the marriage foundation.

What is Commitment?

The best definition for commitment I see is the following: “The state of being emotionally or intellectually devoted, as to a belief, of a course of action, or another person.”

In marriage, being committed involves all aspects: belief, action, and your partner. When you got married you made a vow. That vow was your verbal commitment to your partner. However, that verbal commitment was just the beginning.

Commitment is Action

"Commitment is an act, not a word."
Jean-Paul Sartre

If you are committed to your job, what do you do to demonstrate that commitment? You may go in early, stay late, take on extra assignments, and study to become a subject matter expert.

If you are committed to your health, what do you do to demonstrate that commitment? Perhaps you eat healthy foods, limit fast foods, exercise several days a week, play sports, and get plenty of sleep.

In either of these cases, it isn’t about telling friends you are committed to your job or health. It’s about the actions you take to demonstrate your words.

There are many aspects of commitment in marriage:

  • Committed couples tend to be more emotionally supportive
  • Committed couples share their thoughts and feelings openly and deeply
  • Committed couples show affection, empathy, and sexual responsiveness.

Commitment Versus Involvement

When you are committed, you are all in. Here is a humorous way to explain this:

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

Being “involved” in marriage is like being a roommate. You’re there. You take care of yourself. You leave your partner to take care of themself. Being involved in marriage is any level of commitment that is not 100%!

Being committed is 100%. You cannot be 75% or 90% committed to the marriage and expect it to work. It’s like loyalty. What good is someone that is 90% loyal? When the chips are down, you can’t count on the 90% loyal, or committed, partner.

Commitment Means Never Giving Up

Long-term happily married couples report that no matter how difficult things got in their marriage, their commitment to the marriage made the difference. There is no turning back.

Short of physical or emotional abuse, partners that are committed to each other understand that they will continue to try new things, and never, ever give up on the marriage. Once you are resolved to never give up, the size of the challenge doesn’t matter. You will read the books, attend the classes, get coaching, and do whatever it takes to make it work.

"Once you are committed you adopt a “burn the boats” mentality."
Mark Jala

Are you familiar with the “burn the boats” story?

In the year 1519, Spaniards led by Herman Cortes invaded Mexico. To motivate his men, he burned the boats they arrived in, letting his troops know that they will either conquer the land or die. Knowing there was no turning back, Cortes and his men succeeded where many others failed.

It is also said that a thousand years earlier the Greek Alexander the Great burned their boats upon their arrival in Persia.

In 2006, NBA head coach of the Miami Heat, Pat Riley, faced a 0-2 situation in the NBA finals. Only one team in the entire history of the NBA ever came back to win being down 0-2. After winning the next 3 games, the Miami Heat had to travel to Dallas for possibly the final 2 games. Miami had NEVER WON a playoff or finals game in Dallas. Coach Riley “burned their boats” by telling his players to pack only one set of clothes and he was booking the hotel for only one night. With that commitment, Coach Riley and the Miami Heat became only the 2nd team in history to win the championship after being down 0-2.

There are many stories where a firm commitment produces desired results.

If you are keeping an escape route open, close it. Burn your boats. Commit to the success of your marriage.

The Benefits of Commitment

Research studies reveal that the more couples are committed to one another, the more likely they are to:

  • Experience happiness for their efforts
  • Feel deeply satisfied with the marriage
  • Not feeling trapped in the relationship
  • Enjoy a long-lasting marriage

There is a freeing of the mind when one commits. When one commits, all focus and energy goes to making the marriage work. There is no duality of thoughts. You won’t have one day worrying about the future of the marriage, and the next day glad it was a good day. That is duality. When you commit, all thoughts and focus go to one conclusion – that of a happy marriage.

This is not to say the marriage will be easy or there won’t be difficult days filled with sadness. That is life. Life is filled with ups and downs. Your marriage is no different.

Commitment helps to keep you on target, doing what is necessary to get your desired results, no matter the challenges you face.


Creating Commitment

Can one create commitment? The answer is: absolutely, YES!

If you're having troubles in your marriage and question if it can last, your commitment level may be low. That's normal. The thing to understand is that if you want your marriage to succeed where both of you are happy, you MUST bring your commitment level to 100%. 

Commitment is created using small, consistent steps. It’s not about doing any one big thing, or planning some big event.

In my coaching programs I cover many ways to create commitment. For this article, I'm going to focus on one approach that can start getting you quick results.

Create Shared Positive Experiences

Think back to a time when the two of you were very happy together. What were the two of you doing? That is a shared positive experience. Thinking back on past experiences is great, but to increase your level of commitment, you have to create NEW experiences. 

These new shared positive experiences can be anything the two of you like to do together. The more you do together, the more you'll want to do more together. 

Let these experiences build on one another. 

The more you create, the more positive experiences you'll have in your memory to draw on when you face challenges.

Create these shared positive experiences as often as possible, daily if you can. Nothing creates success like success. 

To learn more ways to build up your commitment level, consider one of my coaching programs. I cover several more ways to build commitment levels on both my one-on-one private coaching program as well as my low-cost online program called Reignite the Love.

About the author

Mark Jala is a certified marriage coach, researcher, and consumer advocate. Certified in Strategic Interventions, Mark bases all of his services and advice on verifiable research. With nearly 40 years of problem solving experience, Mark has developed a holistic approach to marriage coaching which provides a context and execution plan not seen in ordinary marriage services.

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