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

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

We 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.

Understand your relationship commitment before discussing specifics of how you will be together Share on XSo 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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