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Well Guarded Secrets About Commitment
Why Invest Emotionally, Materially and Mentally in a Relationship?
Why be in a relationship for a long time? Why invest emotionally, materially, and mentally in life, with another person?
Those of us that keep one foot in the relationship and one foot out
of the relationship can include not only the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers but more so, the Gen Z and the Millennials. The Millennials and the Gen Z’s are our leaders in the making and they have broken the mould to our traditional ways of relationships.
Technology in the form of dating apps and instant gratification of securing a new partner with one swipe, makes the Millennials and Gen Z’s think why should one ever be contented with one long term committed relationship. One 32-year-old Millennial male said, “I’m only good for getting drunk and having sex with. My Facebook feed sends me announcements about marriage and babies, reminding me that this is what I am meant to be doing as I am of that age now”.
The Millennials (18 to 34 years-of-age) have grown up where the culture leads them to take on the belief that it is important to like yourself first. Liking yourself first and putting your needs first was important to not only create a more well-rounded person but to also be a better person for your partner to be. In addition, there was the surrounding cultural belief that emphasised, “you don’t need a partner to be happy”.
The surrounding high divorce rates of Millennials parents and grandparents have made them commitment phobic; and more interested in writing about their lives on social media, rather than living it. The Millennials get validation via social media by the number of likes and comments they receive. Yet, in saying this, Millennials have surprisingly more in common with Baby Boomers than Gen Xers. The Millennials are more accepting of premarital sex than Gen Xers (1965-1981) even though Gen Xers have had more sexual partners than the Millennials. The Millennials are like the Baby Boomers by their acceptance of premarital sex.
The Millennials and all of us commitment phobes, have a lot of “How To” information that gives instant solutions. The problem is, more often than not there is the lack of application.
Millennials in particular, are scared of showing their tender-hearted selves and placing their power in their partner’s hands. The Millennials, like us commitment phobes, know what one’s specific interests are in life are and they want to exclusively match those interest areas within their partners, which can be looking for a needle in a haystack. Having that 100% expectation is debilitating for your relationship or potential relationship. I haven’t found it, have you? Maybe it needs to be about the 80:20 Pareto Rule. The Law of Vital few.
The Pareto Law 80:20
The Pareto law says that approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of the results. In other words, we could say that in our committed relationships we expect 80% of our happiness to come through our committed partner, while the other 20% needs to come through other avenues, such as friends, family, hobbies, work, religion, etc.…Let us let people off the hook. Remember, we all have our good points and we also have our acknowledged and unacknowledged flaws. Everyone has suffered heartaches and heartbreaks; suffered losses, misconstructions of many kinds. There comes a time where we just cannot be an overflowing cup for our partners. We need to accept our limitations and their limitations. Full stop.
A part of my limitations are, that, I am a heterosexual and a serial monogamist. I was born into a family line where amongst other aspects it has a history of broken marriages. My character per se has come to welcome security and stability intermixed with variety. I have had a life time of people finding me, especially females, who tell me both woefully and angrily of their miserable lives with their husbands or ex-husbands/partners, skewing my once positive, open mindedness about relationships and committed relationships into a more hesitant, cautious even negative stance about marriage and long term commitments. With time, though, I have come to learn that a committed relationship can bring stability and anchoring into one’s life as well as contributing to creating a more cohesive neighbourhood, community and society.
To Coerce or Influence in Our Relationships...
Power in personal relationship is often avoided as a subject. I feel we need to address the elephant in the room even if it’s done briefly. There are a number types of power. To name a few, there is economic power, social power, hierarchical power and legal power for instance. However, if I speak about power in a personal relationship, power here is about how one partner “coerces” another partner or how one partner “influences” the other partner. To me, if you become a couple, a team, you do eventually become dependent on one another and to make your team unite and charge after your hopes, dreams and goals, you will have an effect on one another. In a healthy relationship, you will both knowingly and unknowingly “influence” one another. This influence is done with acceptance and not against one’s Will. In a unhealthy relationship one partner is” coerced” by the other partner.
I have one foot
Our long time committed relationships are also not helped by: -
- Our parents and grandparents who haven’t taught us how to sustain pleasure in intimate relationships
- Society tearing down our intimacy environments in favour of autonomy.
E.g. through casualization of the workforce; and having to move away from family where we feel safe and supported, we thereby increase our feelings of aloneness and isolation. This in turn acts to put extra pressure on one’s relationship and partner because instead of being fulfilled in part by community, you place all your emotional needs onto your partner which is both unrealistic and damaging to the long-time commitment of your relationship.
9 Ways of How to Strengthen Commitment in Your Relationship?
When I think of how to strengthen the feeling of wanting to be and stay in a committed relationship for the long term, I think of these three aspects: -
- Commitment to the relationship
- Resolving Conflict
Utah State University did a recent study which revealed that if we nurtured these 9 everyday characteristics we would increase our commitment to our personal long-time relationship.
1. Remember to Greet Each Other Daily
Remember to say Good Morning, Hello throughout the day and Good Night, both verbally and physically. This serves to not only acknowledge each other but keeps the embers glowing. You are letting your partner know that you are happy that they were born and that they are a part of your life.
2. Get Practiced in Everyday Small Talk
Focus on reminding each other what your hopes, goals and dreams are for your committed relationship and for yourselves individually. It may only take only 15- 30 minutes a day. You could discuss that while cooking dinner or after you have just finished your meal. Whenever it works for you.
3. Compliment and Celebrate your Partner
When you are praised doesn’t it expand your feelings of self-worth? Doesn’t it make you feel like a valuable member of the relationship? When you feel of value your feeling of commitment increases. This is because you are feeling liked and you liked the other person even more. If you can create these kinds of feelings in your relationship, your partner won’t feel inclined to go outside the relationship looking to find someone to validate them.
4. Have a Higher Purpose Together
Know “why” you are together in the first place. Loving your partner is NOT enough. You need to have a purpose, a higher purpose to get you through the everydayness of the relationship. This is where your Marriage Commitment Statement would come in to serve to remind you of the “why”. For example, it may also include things such as: -
- We are a couple who wants to become parents
- We are a couple who wants freedom to travel
- We are a couple who wants a beautiful and comfortable home to live in so that we can share it with our loved ones
- We are a couple who wants to be active community members
5. Have Fun Together!
To make your relationship cement and survive, you need to see and experience the lighter side of life. Have date nights where you sensualize and sex up the vibe you send out to your partner. Have a ready to go list of free fun things to do as well as more expensive fun things to do together as a couple.
6. Build in Traditions/Rituals
Build in rituals and traditions into your committed long time relationship. They may be borrowed from your own families or be something new you would like to introduce. These rituals will be a God send when it gets tough in your relationship. It will help you to stick together when you are practically falling apart.
7. Make Time for the Relationship
You need both quantity and quality of time to keep strengthening what you do have in order to keep you going and to fix what is lagging behind.
8. Setting Dating/Marital Boundaries
If you live in any society, primitive or urban, you live with rules and regulations in order to make your life not only liveable but to feel safe and protected. A relationship is no different. As soon as you can, sit down with your partner and create the rules, the laws, the deal-breakers in your relationship. For instance, some rules may be: -
- Don’t yell
- Don’t keep relationships outside our relationship a secret. Be transparent
- Consult before spending
- Violence is a deal breaker
9. Write Out a Marriage Commitment Statement
Just like a company, they have a Mission Statement to steer and guide the actions and behaviours of the team, and so a couple needs a Marriage Commitment Statement to guide the couple and keep them on track. A time frame for the relationship could be included. E.g. After five or ten years’ time, you sit down and decide if you want to continue in this committed relationship or whether you feel you need to move on.
I would just like to add here, if you decide you are going to part from your partner, do this as a gift of love. Still do things to make them feel lovable as the time nears. Or, if that is too much to ask of you, still keep building up your partner to feel stronger or more competent, so when the break up happens, they will feel less hurt and can cope with their new future. A grown-up knows the perfect partner doesn’t exist.
You need to give reasonable leeway with options and warnings. Adult love comes with differences and defects. And, remember, even if you have become disappointed try being the one with the big shoulders and choose not to belittle, correct or punish before you part.
In Ending, I Just Wanted to Say….
Unexpectedly and disappointingly, competitiveness can rear its ugly head in personal committed relationships. When that happens, remind your partner and yourself, everyone can be a winner at something. But it is probably fair enough to say, most of us will never be the best at something, so we have to be contented with being good enough. If you can work it this way, it will bring more peace and comfort into your lives.
Clinginess can be a turn off for some partners. That trait is primitive and is for survival sake. As to be rejected by the herd (your partner, your group) meant you wouldn’t survive and therefore die. Studies have proven that babies die if they are unloved and not nurtured. So be patient when either one of you comes across needy or clingy.
Dependency? Is a dirty word in our culture of individualism and autonomy. Let me put it to you this way, what if needing someone to complete your happiness was a beautiful thing to do? As long as your partner continues to enrich, not burden your life, together with making you feel secure even though they are confident they could survive on their own. Wouldn’t that be comforting?
Lastly, I say to both of us, choose a partner that likes themselves. Otherwise, there will be too much destructive jealousy or they will be suffocating you with their domination and micro management. Leading to unnecessary trials, challenges and erosion of the self and the relationship.
I hope you realize your role to play in your relationship of love and long term commitment, early on.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article please feel free to leave a comment.
Source of Images: pixabay.com