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University of Wyoming Extension

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

LIFE - Individual Growth and Development

Dedication and Constraint

The promises and performance of marriage reflect the personal motivation of partners and the expectations of their families and society. Traditionally, the economic security and social status of marriage required loyalty and practical effort, often without assuming affection or romance. In today’s companionship marriage, the devotion of saying, "I do" must become the everyday reality of doing things that continue to build caring and cooperation.

Dedication: Determination to Stay Together

Dedication, or personal desire to grow in ways that benefit both partners, motivates investments in the success and satisfaction of marriage. Partners make choices to build a life together through:

  • Planning together—joint decisions on a grocery list, weekend trip, or childcare decisions in the short run, remodeling, car purchase, or retirement for the long run reinforces shared responsibility and partners’ views of their common future;
  • Prioritizing—the process of agreeing on use of resources (time, money, energy, property) is an important discipline for financial stability, self-determination, and couple consensus;
  • Teamwork—cooperating on everyday tasks like cooking, yard work, balancing the checkbook, or putting children to bed strengthens mutual support and togetherness whether couples are side-by-side or separately exercising their unique talents;
  • Sacrifice—giving extra effort for a spouse or the good of the relationship underlines the importance of the partnership, especially when such efforts are mutual;
  • Blocking alternatives—steering clear of work overload or recreational pursuits as well as flirtations which detract from couple and family life, builds trust;
  • Valuing commitment—working to share burdens and make happy memories during good times sets the stage for patience and persistence through difficulties.

Strategies which express dedication build resiliency by:

  • Reducing vulnerability to stress, including fatigue, isolation and martyrdom, or temptations to infidelity and increasing emotional resources of both the individuals and the relationship (togetherness, hope, patience, willingness to sacrifice). Joint efforts maximize individual talents and couple efficiency.
  • Cultivating a shared history of success and growing reserve of capabilities for meeting expected and unexpected challenges.

Dedication Strategies

  • Establishing disciplines of coping and rapport which enable the couple to recover from extreme stressors, within or beyond the family.

Exercises

Write a couple mission statement—it can be as simple as "To remember every day why I married you and show you kindness no matter how I feel."

Try to create a statement which expresses what you want to do with your life together—not just how you feel (what happens when you don’t feel it?) or that you will stay together (think about what you’ll do together). Display your statement on a bulletin board, refrigerator, etc.

Set aside a time every week—and a longer time at least once a month—to plan a schedule including: a) reducing stressors (reducing the number of competing activities, anticipating conflicts, preparing for events); and b) increasing strengtheners (fun times together, opportunities for encouragement and problem solving). These times should be considered part of keeping yourselves (happily) together, rather than having your relationship defined by circumstances.

Developed by Ben Silliman, Family Life Specialist, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, Laramie


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