Two Anchors for a Lasting Marriage: Promising

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Two old anchors leaning against the stone wall. Online therapy in Oregon can help, or consider couples counseling in Hillsboro, OR here!

by Shane Fookes, MA LPC Intern

This is a second post taking a look at two anchors that make lifelong marriage possible. The first anchor, forgiving, was covered in an earlier post. Forgiving calms the anxiety that comes from facing our unchangeable pasts. This post addresses how to best live with the anxiety that comes from facing our unpredictable futures. 

Entire industries are built on trying to predict the future accurately.

Generally, these predictions are based on past performance. But as every financial prospectus notes: past performance does not guarantee future results. We simply cannot guarantee outcomes in the future! Yet even though we know that, we cling to the belief that we can (or should be able to). We believe, as the poet William Ernest Henley wrote, that “I am the master of my fate.” 

But what if grasping for guarantees and clinging to notions of mastery over the future actually increases our pain and anxiety?

Wooden puppet person on strings. You can get help for anxiety with christian marriage counseling in hillsboro, or and online therapy in Oregon.
Photo by Sivani B on Unsplash

There’s a better way to engage the future: making and keeping promises.

When making a promise, a person embraces the power to act freely now to bring order and dependability into the unpredictable future. It’s the closest we come to actually guarantee something for the future. As the 18th-century author, G.K. Chesterton put it, “The person who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place.”

For example, when we make marriage vows on our wedding day, we create a future involving that other person. No matter what happens in me or around me, I promise to choose you. When I do that, I don’t have to wonder who to choose when inevitable changes arrive because I already made that decision. This is ultimate freedom! Of course, it’s also a paradox. When we promise, we choose to limit our freedom so we can be free. 

What Does the Bible Say About Promising?

This approach to the future is modeled for us in the Bible. God engages people in the Bible through promises called covenants. He made covenant promises to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, and Jesus promised a New Covenant through his life, death, and resurrection. Covenant promises were grounded in God’s loyal love. Repeatedly, God’s people were invited to let go of fear because God promised to be with them (Isaiah 41:10). He promised to never leave them or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). As we look into an uncertain future, we are invited to  “wait according to his promise” (2 Peter 3:13). Promise making and keeping are at the very core of who God is. And when we make and keep promises, we act like God.

You may wonder, “How can I make a promise to someone when I don’t know who they will become?” It seems counterintuitive in a day and age where it’s normal to keep our options open. It’s normal to wait up until the last possible moment to agree to a plan in case something better comes along. Truth is, rather than helping us find happiness, this is keeping us from lasting happiness. Social science research confirms: you are more likely to be happy when you make a decision based on your values and then hold to that decision!

Green and red signs with "Choice" written on each, pointing opposite ways. You can get help for anxiety with christian marriage counseling in hillsboro, or and online therapy in Oregon.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Choices to Last for a Lifetime of Love

When I married my wife over 30 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into with her! How could I know how much she would change in that time period? How could I know how much I would change? I can tell you this: I have been married to at least five different women since our wedding day—and each has been the same person! And the same is true for her. Outside of a few temperament traits that have remained about the same, the consistent, connective link along the way has been the promise we made and have kept to each other: “I am the one who will be with you.”

Even as I write this, I realize there are promises we should never make. And there are some promises, once made, that should not be kept. Promises, like every good thing, can easily be perverted. In addition, sometimes life leads us to places where keeping one promise means breaking another. To say that we ought to be careful when we make promises only underscores the truth our generation has pretty much forgotten: we are most like God when we make and keep promises. 

Promises freely given and faithfully remembered provide a reliable anchor we need to hold fast through the inevitable storms of life.

Consider Online Therapy in Oregon for Christian Counseling

Our Clackamas and Beaverton-based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon. Your relationships can thrive again. We can help you get back on track in a way that aligns with your faith and values. When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:

  1. Learn about our therapy team in Beaverton and our caring counselors in Clackamas
  2. Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
  3. Feel more connected to the important people in your life

Other Mental Health Services at Life Discovery Counseling in Oregon

If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, Hillsboro, or Beaverton, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinicsChristian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatmentanxiety therapytrauma therapy and PTSD treatmentrelationship issuesmarriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!

Headshot of Shane Fookes, Christian counselor in Clackamas, OR. Get started with trauma therapy today. We can help with christian counseling and couples chirstian counsleing. Call now 97205 | 97015 | 97003

About the Author

Shane Fookes is a graduate of Western Seminary’s Counseling program and a Licensed Professional Counseling Intern. He was previously a pastor and is still involved in churches, and writes about marriage and relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and spiritual development.

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