If you and your partner are both weakly committed to your relationship, it survives without either of you making a big fuss when you hit a road bump. Since neither of you has the incentive to work things out, your expectations are lower. There is less friction between you and the relationship ticks along without much upheaval.
If you are both strongly committed to your relationship, you work things out and patch things up. Each of you makes room for the other, assume the best of intentions and tolerate mistakes when your endurance and forbearance are strained.
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But when one has a strong commitment to resolving conflict and the other isn’t that bothered, the ground under the relationship begins to crack and shake, spelling danger for its longevity.
What is the best predictor of being the strong link in a relationship?
If like George you grew up in family where differences were aired and conflicts were openly discussed, you learned that participation and engagement improved relationships. It gave you an incentive to work things out no matter how hurt or angry you were at loved ones. There was a strong commitment to working through the bad times because you were tolerated and loved despite the disagreements.
If on the other hand you grew up in an atmosphere where conflict and hurt were never addressed and or tolerated then you developed a weaker level of commitment to your close relationships. It wasn’t worth the risk of raised tempers and long held grudges.
How can Arabella and George both become strong links in their marital chain?
1.Sharing the commitment load is the goal to aim for. If George holds all the commitment, there is no incentive for Arabella to do her share.
2. George needs to spell out each part in the relationship as he sees it. He needs to spell out how he takes care of his part, and then give Arabella an opportunity to discover what it is like having a half share in a relationship. That boosts her desire and willingness to learn how to discuss differences. Offering the choice rather than giving ultimatums is the way to get results.
3. As Arabella’s desire for stability and harmony increase George can introduce small issues that they work on together so that she feels the benefit first hand. Arabella will then develop an increased capacity for commitment.
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Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.