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What Kind of Commitment Do Each of You Want in Your Relationship?

Brooch with two heartsWe have been discussing relationship decisions with a few of our friends who are venturing into partnerships, are at the point of “should we live together?”, or are working through some of the complex issues of becoming a couple.

We have several times heard, “We love each other, but…” These exchanges have led us to an area we feel is important to really look at and discuss – commitment. (A word that has scared Phil for much of his life.) It has two meanings. To pledge, bind, obligate is the onerous, scary one that makes it out to be a burden, a constraint, a limitation, and it also describes taking action, often used negatively like committing an error. Yet such things are not what bind a relationship; instead, it is caring, empathy and service, along with the many pleasures of interacting with another person. The caring that humans have for each other renders that obligation freely given.

We feel all of these potentially fraught conversations can be successful when what we call Our Process for finding mutual solutions is applied. It is basically laying out each other’s wants and desires and exploring possibilities until a solution emerges that works for both people. And yet we realize more and more that crucial to the success of finding those mutual solutions is commitment: that you know you are both wanting to be together, both wanting the best for each other, and therefore you will both be there through the process and out the other side.

When this is known, fears fade away and calm, peace and assurance replace them. You develop a sense that, regardless of the situations that present themselves, you will find solutions that work for both of you. And the more you have those experiences, the more the trust and connection are strengthened.

So often we think it is the specifics we have to get cleared up: Will we live together or in separate places? Will we live in your house, mine, or a new one we both rent/buy? Do we want to do everything together or do we want to have experiences both together and apart? All of these are important questions, as is finding the answers. Yet if you try to answer these questions first, before looking at how and what do you want to commit to with each other, it often makes these issues difficult to solve.

So to find your way through these decisions and to find the solutions that work for you, first discuss what your commitment to one another is. Ask yourselves: what are you able and willing to commit to? A great activity is actually to write these down, first for yourself and then exchange your lists. Keep your commitments to your values, not to the specifics of how, what, when and therefore.

For the greatest success, the first commitments should be to be honest with yourself and your partner and to communicate who you are and how you feel. Sharing these lists is an excellent method for practicing this and for finding out where each of your commitments truly lie.

Once you know this about each other, it will be far easier to chart your course. Feed the commitment and then finding mutual solutions will be a revealing and yes, in many ways, a fun-filled adventure!

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Brooch that Phil’s father gave his mother.

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Giving Thanks

Heading into this week where we take time to be grateful and count blessings, let us set a pattern for the whole year. May love and joy and lots of laughter guide your paths. We are grateful for all of you.
With love,
Phil and Maude

Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we asked what kind of commitment each of you want in your relationship. We suggest that it's good to talk about what your commitment is before discussing the specific decisions involved in making a life together. Here are some articles with different aspects of commitment.

10 Questions to Help You Tell If You're Ready to Commit "How does anyone know what he or she will want 10 years from now, or whether a current commitment will morph into a lasting one? Of course, total security has always been an illusion, yet there must be some way to know when a potential relationship is worth the investment. Having spent over 100,000 intimate hours with clients over the last four decades, I believe there are still some solid criteria to help men and women decide between long-term partnering or short-term exploration."

Here is what real commitment to your marriage means "What does being committed to your marriage really mean? UCLA psychologists answer this question in a new study based on their analysis of 172 married couples over the first 11 years of marriage."

8 Real Ways to Keep a Committed Relationship Healthy "As you and your partner become more serious and transition from newly dating into a more long term committed relationship, your relationship will likely experience some changes. A more long term relationship comes with lots of benefits like becoming closer and more comfortable around each other, but it also comes with more difficulties as you navigate life as a couple. Keeping a committed relationship exciting and viable often involves work – but it doesn't have to be complicated. Focusing on establishing healthy habits for yourself, encouraging these things in your partner and creating healthy standards for your relationship will keep your committed relationship going!"

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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