Is it true that as a culture we are suffering from a lack of true commitment in our intimate relationships? One could look at the divorce rate, estimated to be as high as 50 percent, or recent statistics that show more couples are choosing to live together than to marry. Could the reasoning for the latter be to facilitate an easier exit, generated by an apathetic attitude about whether the relationship works or not: a sort of easy-come-easy-go lethargy? Well, yes, that is one possibility of intent. It could very well be that these statistics reflect more superficial unions that are not given serious consideration and dedication. Maybe we are not the nation of nose-to-the-grindstone, focused, motivated, deeply committed people we once were, like during “the greatest generation.”
Then again, maybe it is not that black and white. Perhaps one significantly positive angle on this is that fear and judgment are just a bit less influential in our choices than they used to be. It is hard to imagine that the low divorce rate of 100 years ago was an absolute mirror reflection of multitudes of happy, healthy marriages. There is no question that social mores served as a harsh accuser, rendering the option of questioning or altering our commitments far less desirable–even damning.
Some would argue that our enhanced freedom to choose whether or not we remain in an intimate relationship has caused more harm than good, resulting in increased instability and social ills. Again, there is ample evidence to support this dismal viewpoint.
At the same time, if you look very closely, you may be able to recognize that the current relationship trends have the potential to embody compelling positive aspects. We may be moving toward being more “inner” than “outer” directed. That disposition, when combined with deep compassion for self and others, can result in even unimaginable positive outcomes, such as a “peace that passes understanding.”
For example, a marriage or partnership dissolution sometimes puts an end to generations-long, intractable patterns of discord, or even abuse that only served to weaken its participants. Other times, the perception of dedicated commitment is a façade, and one or both of the couple is not willing to be disingenuous any longer.
Commitment does fortify whatever is its focus. It is a fundamentally necessary ingredient for personal and collective accomplishment and stability. It has been said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” It may be equally true that the unexamined commitment may be stagnant, inflexible, and not in our highest good. The natural arrhythmia of an optimally functioning human heart is believed to allow flexibility for the ebb and flow of changing physical conditions. So do humans function most efficiently when routinely re-evaluating the nature of what they are committed to and making adjustments as needed?
Healthy commitment begs the questions: Am I acquiescing to a “should” not of my own making, determined by others whose guidance and moral compass is only equal to my own? Am I constricting to make myself fit with the confines of this commitment? Or, am I authentically choosing, lifting my vision up like a giraffe to soak in the wide-angle view, and to choose who and what I will be committed to accordingly? It is about going into the unchartered territory of less programing and increased consciousness. Just maybe, we have untapped potential for making things infinitely better that was unavailable to discern until we learned to tune in to and trust our internal guidance. For most of us, this is an acquired skill that requires serious consideration to develop.
“Perhaps we are always looking for the secret, the gold-mine, the G-spot because we are afraid of the real G-word: Growth – and the energy it requires of us.” - Author Kelly Bryson
Like every other facet of life on our spectacular planet, our commitments are in a state of flux and require conscious re-evaluation and fine-tuning. Is your commitment worth the effort?
May your process, wherever it is taking you, bring you abundant love and light through the power of your authentic and heart-felt commitments.
1. Weil, Andrew, MD. Spontaneous Happiness. Little, Brown and Company. 2011.
2. Bryson, Kelly, MFT. Don’t Be Nice, Be Real. Elite Books. 2010.
3. Burns, David D., MD. Intimate Connections. New American Library. 1985.