Commitment? That scary word where you have to say you’re going to do something (either mentally or physically) and stick to it. Lately I’ve been meeting several people that have been struggling with their commitment to their marriages. Even when things are going well! It’s so sad and draining to think of all the time and energy being wasted in their minds on something that seems so simple: Either commit or don’t.
I have one friend who left her babe of a husband (an ex baseball player with an amazing body!) (I saw 0 wrong with him!) because she wanted to be treated like a princess and knew there was a better man out there to be her prince. What she never realized was that while she was in her marriage, she never fully committed to making that relationship work. She was always focusing on what was wrong, what was missing. She never saw what WAS there. She never fully committed and fully loved and accepted the man she had. For years! Maybe even her whole marriage. She’s now divorced, with two kids and free…and while she’s dated a ton of great guys, she just hasn’t found anyone better than the one she gave up. That guy is engaged to another girl. (Bummer, I know!)
If you are struggling in your marriage, commit fully or just get out. Life is short. Being in limbo is a horrible place. Marriage is tough. Not for the weak at all. But that commitment part? If you stick to it, stick to it with a smile and gusto! Keep the mind free to be happy, for your kids, a new job, a new hobby!
I know most of my readers are married. What do you think about your commitment?
A reader shared this article below by Stuart Wolpert….
“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.
“When people say, ‘I’m committed to my relationship,’ they can mean two things,” said study co-author Benjamin Karney, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA. “One is, ‘I really like this relationship and want it to continue.’ the other is “I don’t like this relationship and I want it to continue.”
A deeper level of commitment, the psychologists report, is a much better predictor of lower divorce rates and fewer problems in marriage.
“It’s easy to be committed to your relationship when it’s going well,” said senior study author Thomas Bradbury, a psychology professor who co-directs the Relationship Institute. As a relationship changes for the worse, however, shouldn’t people say, ‘I’m committed to this relationship, but it’s not going very well — I need to make some sacrifices, take the steps to maintain this relationship, even if it means I’m not going to get my way in certain areas’?
The couples that were willing to make sacrifices within their relationships were more effective in solving their problems. “It’s a robust finding,” Bradbury said. “With lower divorce rates and slower rates of deterioration in the relationship.”
Of the 172 married couples in the study, 78.5 percent were still married after 11 years, and 21.5 percent were divorced. The couples in which both people were willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the marriage were significantly more likely to have lasting and happy marriages, according to Bradbury.
For the study, the first-time newlywed couples, were given statements that gauged their level of commitment. They were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements like “I want my marriage to stay strong no matter what rough times we may encounter,” “My marriage is more important to me than almost anything else in my life,” “Giving up something for my partner is frequently not worth the trouble” and “It makes me feel good to sacrifice for my partner.” The psychologists videotaped the couples’ interactions and measured how they behaved toward each other.
The psychologists also conducted follow-ups with the couples every six months for the first four years (and again later in their marriages), The couples were asked about their relationship history, their feelings toward each other, the stress in their lives, their level of social support, and their childhood and family, among other subjects.
‘We’re not saying it’s easy’
So what does it mean to be committed to your marriage?
“It means doing what it takes to make the relationship successful. That’s what this research is saying. That’s what real commitment really means,” Karney said. “In a long-term relationship, both parties cannot always get their way.”
When a couple has a dispute, they have many choices of how to respond, the psychologists said.
“One choice,” Karney said, “is if you dig your heels in, then I can dig my heels in too. I can say, ‘You’re wrong. Listen to me!’ But if this relationship is really important to me, I’m willing to say, ‘I will compromise.’ What is my goal? Is it to win this battle? Or is it to preserve the relationship? The behaviors I might engage in to win this conflict are different from those that are best for the relationship. The people who think more about protecting the relationship over the long term are more likely to think this is not that big a problem.”
“When the stakes are high, our relationships are vulnerable,” Bradbury said. “When we’re under a great deal of stress or when there is a high-stakes decision on which you disagree, those are defining moments in a relationship. What our data indicates is that committing to the relationship rather than committing to your own agenda and immediate needs is a far better strategy. We’re not saying it’s easy.”
How do you do this when it’s difficult?
“Find ways to compromise, or have a conversation to see things eye to eye,” Bradbury said. “Often, we don’t have the big conversations that we need to have. The very act of communicating in difficult times is as important as the outcome. Everybody has the opportunity to engage in a conflict, or not, to say, ‘You’re wrong, I’m right.’ When people are in it for the long term, they are often willing to make sacrifices and view themselves as a team. They both are.”
The couples whose marriages lasted, were better at this than the couples who divorced, Bradbury and Karney said.
“The people who ended their marriages all once said they were very committed to the marriage,” Bradbury said. “But they did not have the tools to say, ‘We need to work on this; it’s going to be very hard, but it’s important.’ The successful couples were able to shift their focus away from the ‘I win’ or ‘you win’ attitude to ‘Are we going to keep this relationship afloat?’ ”
“In a marriage, disagreement is inevitable, but conflict is an option. It’s a choice we make,” Bradbury and Karney said.
The psychologists recommend against “bank-account relationships.” These are the types of couples that keep score how often and who wins and who compromises more. In good marriages, there is no score. One partner may apologize repeatedly and think nothing of how many or how often, but the grace of the relationship.
Bradbury and Karney are writing a book tentatively titled “Love Me Slender,” scheduled for publication next year, which connects one’s relationship with one’s physical health. Decisions we make about our health when we’re in a relationship are closely connected with our partner and his or her health.
Perhaps all this research is a reminder than when choosing a relationship, choose wisely — and even then, don’t expect it to ever be easy.
UCLA is California’s largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university’s 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.