Balancing Levels Of Commitment For Smooth Relationships


3 tips on managing strong commitment in one partner and weak investment in another for harmony.

If you wonder why you seem to be more invested in working things out than your partner appears to be, then there might be a mismatch in the level of commitment each of you bring to the relationship.

Whether you are both strongly committed or both weakly committed is not the crux on which the relationship succeeds or fails. But where one is strong and other weak, it’s a recipe for mistrust, resentment and disappointment, as in the case of Arabella and George.

George was strongly committed to being a responsive spouse

Concentrating on his legal brief was unusually difficult for forty-year-old George. Flashbacks to the previous night kept intruding and disturbing his focus. He had returned home from work ready to discuss their child care problems as they both ascended their respective career ladders. A million different ways of resolving the issues flew into his head as he got changed and invited his thirty-six-year old wife Arabella to talk with him. She worked on her computer answering him in monosyllables that gave the impression she wasn’t really listening.

Arabella believed that thorns in relationships will take care of themselves

George hated the uncertainty of an unresolved quarrel. He wanted to sort things out in a way that made them both feel respected and taken seriously. He was willing to put time, effort and energy into finding common ground and making room for both of their needs. His number one priority was to have the rough edges smoothed over so that the family could enjoy some stability and harmony. Arabella didn’t feel the same urgency or need. Her focus was on the novelty of the software her company had just installed, the neighbor’s dog barking and the traffic snarls she faced on her way to work.

George’s strong level of commitment placed his attention directly on the marital relationship.

Arabella’s weak level of commitment placed her attention outside the marital relationship.

Arabella’s weak level of commitment ruled the roost. She had the major influence over the quality of the relationship. George couldn’t force her to participate in working things out, so she got the upper hand by opting out. His commitment fell on deaf ears.

Result –frustration that led to hostility, which in turn promoted instability, uncertainty, disconnection, and low marital satisfaction.

How does commitment work in a relationship?

Research in a 2011 issue of the journal Psychological Science indicates that when a couple is matched in their level of commitment, there is less tension and conflict.

Next: If you and your partner are weakly committed... 

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This article was originally published at Jeanette Raymond Los Angeles West Side Therapy. Reprinted with permission from the author.