No Commitment

Many married couples go separate ways citing irreconcilable differences as the reason! If you know the reason, you should be able to fix it. The most important reason why marriage does not work is lack of commitment and/or not marrying for the right reason.  If you have never seen an example of a healthy marriage, either in family or friendship circles, you will have a difficult time finding that for yourself. I am not a professional counselor, but I have observed human relations long enough to make some observations.

Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, or a relationship. Demonstrating commitment requires a lot of determination, persistence and hard work. Wavering commitment is usually seen as no commitment at all. Genuine commitment stands the test of time. Just like other factors (communication, respect, etc.) commitment is a two-way process—others will commit to you only if you show a certain level of commitment— you get it only if you are willing to give it.

The fear of making permanent commitments can change the mutual love of husband and wife into two loves of self-two loves existing side by side until they end in separation. —Pope John Paul II

Commitment is a virtue which is missing from the marriages of today. People get into the constitution of marriage with an “open mind” as they call it—an open mind to move on and get along with their respective lives when they face even a small problem.  Earlier, people used to get married and take an oath to remain together and try to get the marriage working no matter what. They walked into a marriage with commitment in their minds. Hence, they put in an effort to get the marriage work and so it worked!!

Does this sound familiar:

I have been married for seven years and we have a son. My husband is no longer there for me—he never was. He hardly talks to me when he comes home from work. He never asks about my day, the things that interest me, or hurts me. He is disinterested in knowing my wellbeing as well. When I go to talk to him, he walks away. The only way I get him to hear something is by following him. Sometimes I have to raise my voice so that he hears what I say. After that, he comments about how loud I speak and cause an unhealthy environment at home.

He treats his friends better than he treats me. He spends more time with them, laughs, and enjoys with them. He has never done that with me, not even when we were newly married. He liked photography and I wanted to learn from him, but he said it is not my cup of tea. He loves cricket, so did I, but he preferred watching it only with his friends at their place or by inviting them home. As a result, I now hate cricket!   He does not respect who I am and what concerns me. In fact he looks for ways to ridicule me.

The only time he looked at me or said to words to me was when we got on the bed. Earlier, I submitted to his fancies thinking it will probably bring him closer to me. But over the years I have begun to hate this non-existing intimacy—it made me feel like a prostitute—he just walks away as though he does not know me!!

Earlier I thought that I needed to do something to make the relationship work, but what can I do when there is no positive response from the other side? Most importantly, it is taking a toll on my son’s emotional level. He has become a rebel and tells me how loving, respectful, and caring the other fathers are!! What should I do?

Here, the husband seems to have walked into the marriage with no sense of commitment. Unfortunately, a woman usually wants to feel the sense of belonging, which is one of the most desired states of the human relationship. You feel secure when you feel that you belong to somebody. Don’t mistake it to being owned. But this does not mean that only a man has no sense of commitment—some men are committed, and some are not. Similarly, some women are committed and some are not!!

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.— Tom Robbins

Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. The couples that were willing to make sacrifices within their relationships are more effective in solving their problems. This results in slower rates of deterioration in the relationship. When you are committed, you have the confidence that you will make it through the day-to-day challenges, tension, stress, and situations that is capable of tearing a marriage apart. Commitment offers couples a desire to sacrifice for each other. This takes forward their future together.

If you feel that there is a lack of commitment and hence closeness between you and your spouse, try to do the following. But a word of caution, this can happen only if both the partners want their to the relationship to work and work on it.

  1. Create a commitment statement. Try to include certain rules and boundaries that strengthen the marriage.
  2. Greet each other: Make it a point to greet each other every day—in the morning, when one goes out and comes back to the house. Saying a good morning, bye, welcome back home, good night, etc. is a good thing to start with.
  3. Adapt to physical greeting: When you greet make it a habit to give a hug or a kiss—these are physical gestures which also has a “feel good” factor. It is a special gesture to reinforce the commitment of spouses.
  4. Spend time together. Make time for each other. Spend both quality and quantity time together. Discuss work, political happenings, family issues, movies, books, etc. These are some things that you can start with. Try to spend time together, just the two of you without kids around you. This is a stepping stone towards strengthening and reinforcing the bonds of marriage.
  5. Do activities together: Do some activity (with or without kids)—watch a nice movie, visit friends, play some game, etc. This helps to promote connection in relationships. Doing activities on a daily basis can help a couple grow closer and strengthen understanding commitment.
  6. Talk about positive things: Spend some time talking about positive things that has happened in your life. Also, talk about hopes and dreams—something you are looking forward to. Talking about future-oriented reasons for committing to one another can renew desire preserve the relationship. This will strengthen the current commitment.
  7. Be friends with your spouse. Friendship is a commitment. So, start your relationship with friendship. Then, you don’t have to look out for people outside marriage to talk to and confide in. You have each other. Share your problems, discuss them, give/take suggestions. This improves trust and hence your commitment towards the relationship.
  8. Perform religious activities: In India, there is no lack of festivities or traditional rituals.  Take an effort to do Pooja or rituals together. Traditions are important in building meaning and significance in the marriage. It not only get the partners together but also helps in maintaining and passing traditional beliefs to the children.
  9. Do small acts of kindness: While it may be easy to take advantage of what your spouse gives for the benefit of the relationship, everyone desires to feel acknowledged. Doing a chore, bringing home a special gift, or sending a loving note are all simple but effective ways of showing respect and dedication to your spouse and the marriage.
  10. Make intimacy a positive time for connection. This ultimate expression of commitment should be a special time that both spouses can look forward to.

One important thing to remember is that if a problem creates havoc in your marriage or if you have done something to deeply hurt your partner, it is absolutely necessary to reaffirm your commitment. You have to sort out the issue immediately or ask for forgiveness. But that is not the only time when you should let your spouse know that you care for him/her.

Treat your spouse to random acts of attention on a regular basis. Whether you like it or not, it goes a long way in keeping those marital bonds tight. You don’t have to be ashamed or afraid to tell your spouse you are committed. Put your pride aside and let your spouse hear those words from you.

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