A lot of time when we think about the decisions that weigh on our mind, we are making a choice about what’s next. With alternatives presented before us, we have to decide what option we are going to pursue. We equate making a choice with selecting a certain course of action, and action of course means doing something different.
It is true that many times when we are making a decision we are discontinuing what we have been doing in order to do something new. However continuing to do the same thing is a choice as well. I can make a decision about where to go on vacation, but I can also go to work and not take a vacation at all. It may not seem like maintaining my normal routine involves much decision-making prowess, but making that call is just as much as a decision as selecting between Hawaii and the Bahamas. This is why people are rightly aghast when witnesses to a crime do not intervene. Continuing on with what they had been doing instead of helping someone in need is choosing their own priorities over someone that needed their assistance.
In a similar way, I’m convinced that the collapse of many marriages is caused because people do not recognize that choosing to remain in that marriage is not a matter of habit but a matter of decision. This is a choice that must not just be made in crisis moments; it is one that must be selected each and every day. People may think that staying in a marriage is simply a routine that is formed over time, however, in reality it is a proactive commitment that each partner makes and reinforces on a regular basis.
We can see that remaining in a relationship is a choice because Christ commanded His followers to remain in a relationship with Him. “Abide in Me” He stated (John 15:4). In other words, stay with Me; choose each and every day to remain My dedicated follower, committed to doing My Will and intent on demonstrating My love. If following this directive didn’t necessitate some volition on our part, than it would be a nonsensical command. If abiding in Christ simply happened as a matter of course than He wouldn’t need to provide His followers with this direction. Similarly, remaining in a marriage isn’t just second nature; it requires dedication, commitment and daily perseverance.
Recognizing this distinction is important because it is too easy to think that marriages remain intact based solely on some unknown quantification of whether a couple was “meant to be.” Instead, marriages remain together if, by the grace of God, the couple regularly and intentionally purposes to stay that way. It may seem like couples only makes a proactive choice when a marriage ends, but that is not the case. Husbands and wives also choose to remain, and marriages that last will make that choice, time and time again.