When it comes right down to it, a great marriage is not built on the "fireworks." Don't get me wrong, fireworks are great and fun and wonderful, I rather enjoy them myself, but the glue that really holds a marriage together is commitment.
One of the best biblical examples of someone who committed herself to another person for no apparent benefit for her is Ruth. If you've never read the biblical account, I highly recommend it, she's got her own book stuck right in there between Judges and 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.
Ruth is not an Isrealite, she's a Moabitess. But she married an Isrealite, and in doing so became the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Unfortunately, Naomi's husband died while they were living in Moab (they had moved there to avoid a famine in Israel), he was soon followed by both of his sons, so Naomi had to move back to their old home town of Bethlehem (because part of the law given through Moses was taking care of the widows in the community, and I'm not sure, but it would make sense that the Moabites wouldn't feel much loyalty or obligation to an Israelite widow). So Naomi starts out on the journey back to her homeland with both of her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, in tow. Shortly into their walk back to Bethlehem, Naomi realizes that Ruth and Orpah will probably be better off just to go back to their own families and try to start their lives over again. Orpah agrees and heads back to Moab, but Ruth is insistent that she will not leave Naomi:
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severly, if anything but death separates you and me."
I don't know about you, but I always thought that that would make a great wedding vow. Ruth states unequivocally her commitment to Naomi. This is not because Naomi is particularly loveable at this moment in time. In fact, quite the opposite. Naomi is bitter and hurting and had just lashed out at Ruth and Orpah as she was trying to send them back to Moab (Ruth 1:11-13). And in just a few verses, she insists that the people who great her in Bethlehem stop calling her "Naomi" which means "pleasant," and start calling her "Mara" instead, which means "bitter." How's that for you? It's like she's saying "I am going to be in a perpetually terrible mood, and I want my very name to remind me to stay that way." Not exactly one of those people that everyone wants to spend their time with.
But Ruth does not sit around feeling sorry for herself, or complain to Naomi, or nag her to cheer up, or anything like that. Throughout the rest of the story Ruth first looks for and executes a plan to support Naomi, and then obeys her without question - always treating her with the utmost respect.
My Women of Faith Study Bible notes say it this way:
She offers to give of herself - not because Naomi is particularly lovely or deserving at the moment, but on the strength of her commitment to Naomi. . . . Her commitment keeps her from focusing on changing Naomi and sets her on a course that will transform a woman from Moab into the great-grandmother of Israel's most famous king . . . and part of the lineage of Christ, the King of kings!
How radically would this change our marriages? I'll tell you right now that it will not be easy, not in the least. But, oh boy, would it be worth it! This is the commitment-glue. The extra push that keeps you from rolling your eyes in disrespect when your husband makes a grumpy demand, and choosing to respect him - even when he doesn't deserve it.
Wouldn't that be a beautiful thing?