Is "let's shack up" really the new "til death do us part?" This article will discuss and attempt to answer the questions, what is commitment today in the 21st century and are you clear about what role commitment plays in your relationship?
My good friend Tina just sent me an e-mail telling me that she hasn't dated anyone since her divorce about 6 months ago, and since she's been married and divorced 3 times, she insists she will NEVER marry again. Further, any man who gets involved with her will have to understand that the word ‘marriage’ simply is not in her vocabulary!
At the same time, I was in the midst of ending a relationship with a man I loved and adored because he could not make the leap to marriage, which I see as vital to commitment.
I have another client who has been married and divorced 5 times and she says that she will NOT have sex with someone without the commitment of marriage. She wants to be honored and cherished and she believes in the old saying, "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"
How is it three people who want and value commitment all come to it from such different places? Where do you stand on the issue?
What about the couple who decide, reasonably, to move in together and see how that goes and then decide if they are compatible, and if they are, then they'll get married. Audrey, another friend, told me that her boyfriend wanted them to move in together and she felt like she would be auditioning for him and if she passed, he’d keep her. This may not bode well for many people who are seeking commitment. In fact, according to the Relationship Coaching Institute, your chances of staying married are no better if you live together first.
Is living together a commitment? Is promising not to date anyone else a commitment? Is agreeing to have a child together a commitment? Is marriage, these days, in light of the high divorce statistics, a commitment? Is sharing finances a commitment? Just what is a commitment?
David Steele, president and CEO of the Relationship Coaching Institute says there's a difference between a promise and a commitment that includes marriage. "In short, a promise is something you say, and a commitment is something you do....A promise is a small commitment. If a potential partner doesn't keep promises, I would question their ability to keep commitments, as they are definitely related.”
Steele goes on further: “A commitment is explicit and unambiguous. A commitment is a formal event of some kind between two people. A commitment is something you DO over time. A real commitment is usually legally enforceable and there are consequences for breaking it. And, for a relationship to be truly committed, there are no exits- mentally, emotionally, or physically. When the going gets rough, you make it work."
I recently worked with a client who was living with a man for 8 years. They have a 6 year old child. He kicked her out of the house, and she is now homeless, going from friend to friend. The house was his before the relationship and he was the one with a job. She can't even get custody of her son because she has no where to live. If she were married, she would have rights to the house, the child and child support.