- Gender and Relationships»
Commitment – It’s Good for You, Him and the Kids
The Importance of Commitment
Commitment by two parents is why children of two, married, biological parent families thrive while blended families fail more often and single mothers regardless of income have children with worse family outcomes. About 10% of children of two married parents have problems like addiction, mental illness or teen pregnancy while 25% of never-married mothers do.
Sources of these statistics: “Strong families make successful children, not the nanny state, says study as No10 launches baby guide” UK MailOnline, 05/18/2012; “Are Both Parents Always Better Than One? Parental Conflict and Young Adult Well-Being” by Kelly Musick (Cornell University) and Ann Meier (University of Minnesota), 2008; “Children of married parents do better no matter how much money government gives single moms” by Robert Morley in “The Trumpet, 5/22/2012 )
Two adults who commit to each other for life will invest more time, attention and resources into the family than those just living together. Adults who commit by getting married are more likely to stay together while the child is growing up than those who do not marry. If you want to have children, the best thing you can do for them is commit to each other and get married.
And if this isn’t argument enough, remind him that marriage commits you to him, too, and improves his quality of life, life expectancy and lifetime earnings. (Source, “The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially” by Richard Niolon PhD, October 23, 2010)
Another consideration is the lie that half of all marriages end in divorce. Shaunti Feldhahn's studies show that the divorce rate for first marriages is closer to 30%. This means that a sizable majority of first marriages last, far more than the half we are told will end.
By assuming that the marriage's survival is a flip of a coin, you decide to leave because it seems so likely. If we knew that more than half of first marriages actually lasted, we'd have more faith in the institution and fewer fear-driven behaviors that undermine the relationship, such as having secret bank accounts and credit lines "just in case".
Shaunti Feldhahn's studies showing that most marriages do make it show that families aren't as likely to break up as stay together; therefore, those who commit to try to stay together most likely will.
What Doesn't Count as Commitment?
Commitment does not require abandoning your family. It means that you are adding another person to your family – while you join his family. You should not enter a commitment, marital or not, with someone whose family despises you or undermines you. In a tug of war between a lover and blood, too many men fall back in line with their families because they’ve had other lovers in their lives. You’re just one more.
Commitment does not mean that you abandon your friends. You cannot expect your partner to meet all emotional needs. A boyfriend or even a husband is not a girlfriend. Most guys don’t want to gush about their feelings nor spend hours analyzing the social dynamics of a situation. You need girl friends around to empathize with, socialize with and emote with.
The line that must be drawn for women in a committed relationship is close male friends. Male sexual infidelity is emotional devastating because it is a severe breach of trust. But it may actually be one mistake. However, if he’s doing it serially with one person, it’s actually a second relationship, and you should kick him to the curb. If he’s betrayed you more than once, the same thing applies – he’s not committed, so dump him.
A woman’s emotional infidelity is more dangerous to the relationship than a man’s lone sexual indiscretion. Why? Because being with the other man and sharing with him emotionally can lead her to fall in love with him or simply fall out of love with her partner. Sharing the emotional turmoil of your committed partner with another is a kind of infidelity, and your male friend may agree with you while undermining your partner simply to be a good friend or actively criticize him in the hopes of gaining your confidence, since this so often leads to you falling into his arms.
Addiction can be described as an over-arching need for a thing, something deemed more important and potent than the people in our lives. “It’s me or the bottle.” “If you go to the racetrack one more time, I’m leaving.” Addiction impairs someone’s ability to commit because it elevates the thing – drugs, alcohol, gambling – over the people in our lives.
An addict may love you, but he cannot commit to you because he values the addiction more. The lies addicts tell to hide the addiction or circumvent a loved one’s controls erode the frail trust even more. If he is an addict, it is fair to say that you love him but cannot commit to him until he is clean, sober and sane.