Why Commitment Is so Necessary to Make Long-Term Relationships Work?
With so many couples and marriages breaking up nowadays, why is it necessary for couples to be committed?
Why is it so important to have commitment in a long-term relationship? This question can be asked as we look around at the debris of so many marriages and relationships in today’s society.
Many choose to separate and/or divorce from their partners and eventually go on to start new relationships and try and ‘recover’ from their previous ones. Is it worthwhile then pushing on and persevering with a relationship that is struggling? Is there really any point? Why not let it ‘die a death’ and then, at some appropriate time, seek happiness and fulfilment elsewhere.
In my capacity as a couple/marriage counsellor, the need for continuing commitment in a long-term relationship is ever before me – including in my owm marriage. Without this, many relationships will be wrecked in ‘normal’ life – never mind when turbulent life storms come along.
There is an underlying stability and security in the permanent lifestyle produced when partners and spouses give a commitment to each other. It enhances the relationship and strengthens it with the ‘glue’ of permanence. By staying together the two halves continue to make one whole – rather than the torn remainders of two separate pieces.
The ‘can do’ mentality that arises when both partners know their other halves have ‘stickability’ will help when problems arise – as they surely will – in any marriage or relationship. Knowing there is commitment – on both sides – to make it work when things are tough, will, by definition, produce resiliance, perseverance and strength.
The persevering mentality that things will go on despite difficulties, means that the success or failure of the relationship does not depend upon the vagaries of any emotional ‘roller-coaster’ that either partner may experience. They both know that, regardless of how they feel in their emotions at any particular given time, they are committed to the other partner and to the relationship and want to make it work.
This long-term, stable, continuous commitment to a relationship is an excellent role-model for children who can see at first hand the benefits to be gained. Family ideas and ethos’ are often ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ and this is particularly true in the parenting of families. Long-term commitment to a partner carries a seriously good message to the children of that relationship.
And with commitment will come protection, for any children involved, from the emotionally damaging effects that come when adult relationships break down. Anger, guilt, forlorness, rejection, etc. will not land on them. Instead, as commented earlier, steadfastness and perseverance will be role-modelled and faithfulness demonstrated.
Any children involved will also have their self-images enhanced – whether conscious or not of this. They will be thinking along the lines of, "I am worthy, or good enough, to be stayed for," as opposed to thinking that, "I am not worth enough, for the significant adults that care for me, to make the effort to stay together."
And children will often think if there is an adult break-up that they are to be blamed – that it is they who caused the relationship breakdown. If this is true or not doesn’t matter. If the thought process for the child has concluded – rightly or wrongly – that they are the cause of the breakdown, it will be very detrimental to their emotional and mental well being.
And for the adults too there is a very positive effect on self-image that comes when one knows that the other partner is committed to them. The sense that, "I am worthy enough to be committed to/stayed with," bolsters that individual’s self-image with a ‘knock-on’ effect into the relationship as a whole. It boosts the long-term love, security and acceptance of one partner for another.
Conversely, when an individual experiences the rejection, isolation and withdrawal inherent within a separation and divorce, it will have a very negative effect on their self-image. When the relationship fails, there will be a perception that the two ex-partners have failed and so are ‘failures’.
Commitment within a marriage or relationship will also protect from the dangers potentially within successive casual relationships that can come from casual sex and promiscuity. For example, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, broken hearts, etc. These are very real problems that affect and damage many.
Individual and family life are undoubtedly enhanced when individuals and couples choose to be committed to their partners – come what may. Obviously, there will be times when relationships fail – for a variety of reasons – but a sense of genuine commitment will hold many relationships together in the ‘storms’ of life.
The positive effect of commitment will always bring greater cohesion to families rather than fragmentation. This will no doubt add to broader social cohesion rather than social fragmentation for society generally. Let us all get behind commitment as a lifestyle choice.
David Woodward, the author, is a private practice counsellor in Kettering in the East Midlands of the UK. Having been counselling for over 24 years, David offers couple and marriage counselling in Kettering at his counselling practice. Additionally he is a GP’s counsellor and does
counselling in Corby at a local surgery and also works at H.M.Prison Wellingborough counselling prisoners. He has also worked many years with troubled 16-25 year olds at the local Y.M.C.A. Widowed in 2000, he has remarried and now is a father to seven children (five step and two biological).