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This blog series, Seven Signs of a Healthy Relationship, has shared three signs of a healthy relationship thus far, and today the fourth sign will be introduced. The first three signs are: partners support each other’s opportunities for growth, partners share their emotions, and partners pay less attention to attractive others. The fourth sign of a healthy relationship is: couples see the positives to commitment versus the negatives. Whenever I read this sign of a healthy relationship I immediately was taken back to a dinner some friends from work and I shared with our friend a week or so before her wedding. Our server at the restaurant asked us what we were all celebrating, and we excitedly shared our friend was getting married! The server rolled his eyes and responded, “Well, you might as well kiss your happiness goodbye now because your happiness is about to be over!” He went on to complain how terrible commitment was and how it was better to live life single. I think this experience has been a baseline for how I choose to view commitment in a positive light versus a negative.
If you are faced with being consumed with the negatives of commitment in a relationship, it is helpful to start asking yourself what the positives could be with being committed. For me, I see my husband as a permanent best friend, my family I chose, my forever travel buddy, my household partner and I could keep listing more. It can be beneficial to your relationship to focus on what you get from the commitment versus what you are losing. With that being said, there can be common real fears to commitment people experience, like:
- lack of independence
- feeling smothered
- losing a sense of self
- losing free individual time
- disconnection from friends
All of the perceived negatives of commitment can be negotiated within the relationship.
One of the things that is beautiful about two people being in a relationship is they have the power to make the relationship how they want it to be.
It is important to discuss each others expectations, determine how realistic the expectations are for one another, and see how each person can work towards meeting his or her partner’s needs.
When considering this topic, a plug for pre-marital counseling is a must. In pre-marital counseling we first discuss the strength of your (already) committed relationship, then we identify any fears you may experience and discuss how to negotiate how you want your relationship to be today and also in the future. Exposing expectations in the relationship is crucial. It may sound unnecessary at first thought to discuss expectations around sex, money, household roles, family time, friend time and free time. However, in the long run these are some of the issues people face with commitment that can create a divide in a relationship if not discussed.
It is hard to count how many conversations I have had with people who have said, “they have issues with commitment” and that is the reason for the relationship ending. Because of these conversations, I am sure we have all experienced; commitment can get a bad rap. We have the opportunity to focus on what it is we receive from commitment, versus what we are losing to foster a healthy relationship.
*DiDonato, T.E. (July/August 2015). Article Adjustment Bureau. Psychology Today, 93.