March 3

The Essential Ingredient of Commitment

March 3, 2014

Marriage

The Problems from No Commitment

For more than a year Lisa and Eli had been working on their relationship, but they argued a lot, punctuated by blowups that were leaving progressively deeper scars.

Lisa would call me and say that Eli just wasn’t showing signs of making a commitment to their relationship, and then she would carry on in great detail about his failings. Eli would call and say that anytime he made a mistake of any kind, she’d storm out of the room—or the apartment altogether—and threaten to end the relationship.

I saw them in person, and they each eagerly displayed the ammunition they had to use against the other. I asked them if either of them had ever found a partner they thought was more suitable for a long-term relationship. No, they said.

“So you just want the other person to eliminate certain flaws,” I said, “and then you’d be willing to completely commit to the relationship?”

“Yes,” they both said.

We discussed the issues at great length, but I emphasized that they already had enough information to make their decision, and that at some point they’d just have to TRUST each other, make a commitment, and work out the details—the individual differences and problems—for the rest of their lives, like every happy couple does.

Changes with Commitment

The objections and doubts, however, continued to flow, and we were getting nowhere. Fear and blaming proliferated. Finally, Lisa said, “Oh, screw it. I’ll never be entirely satisfied. I can’t work out every issue now. I’m IN—all the way. Eli has demonstrated that he’s willing to learn to love me, and that’s good enough.”

I married them the next day, and although they still have a lifetime of learning ahead of them, the conflicts between them have since decreased dramatically.

We want our partners to become perfect BEFORE we completely commit to stay with them and love them unconditionally. It simply doesn’t work like that. What does work is to find a partner who genuinely demonstrates that he’s WILLING to learn to be loving. Such a partner then only needs time, guidance, and love to learn what’s needed for a great relationship.

When you find a partner like that, commit to stay with them, and to remain teachable yourself. The rest is just details.

Real Love in Marriage

Find genuine happiness now and forever.

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