Someone who’ll go the distance
I need somebody who’ll stand power
And make me go weak in the knees
And everything that goes with it
I need honor and love in my life from somebody
Who’s playin’ for keeps”
Lee Ann Rimes had it right in the second to last line of her song ‘Commitment.’ It is much more complicated then just love. You can love someone deeply but not be able to commit to him or her. As much as we joke about men and women having ‘commitment issues’, it is no laughing matter to the people that lose their hearts to a ‘runaway bride’.
‘Commitment issues’ are a societal problem. The only way to have a healthy relationship is for both partners to be equally committed and when the balance is off, the relationship suffers. Picture for a moment two people walking hand in hand down a beach. In a healthy relationship, those two people both stay parallel to each other or maybe lean into each other to kiss or whisper something sweet. In an unhealthy relationship, when one leans in, the other leans away and vice versa. There is always an imbalance and all the pushing towards and leaning away causes strife, unhappiness and the relationship falls apart.
When you love someone, committing yourself to that person is one of the greatest gifts you can give. It is a powerful and satisfying moment and one that should never be accepted carelessly. There is a finality about commitment and marriage that causes fear, doubt and anxiety to both parties and for good reason – ‘til death does you part’ is a long time!
Commitment goes far beyond the wedding vows. If we are talking about commitment issues, we should also talk about the people who want to get married for the sake of the wedding, not the marriage or spending the rest of their lives with the other person. If you cannot picture yourself with the person for the rest of your lives, committing to everything implied in the marriage vows, then what are you doing walking down the aisle? If you are you worried about losing your freedom or you have other priorities in life, then it may not be the time to commit to someone else.
A fear of commitment is often a fear of betrayal. For someone who has been burned in the past whether in a romantic relationship, in a friendship or by a parent, betrayal is a significant motivator to not put his or her heart on the line again and remain single. Moreover, when they do let their guard down and start to care about someone, their approach to the relationship is off-balance and unhealthy. They grasp too hard to hold onto the other person or try to stay cool and aloof – making both parties unhappy.
Picture our couple on the beach again. Let’s call them Steve and Jennifer to make life easier. They are walking parallel to each other, holding hands and obviously happy in each others company. Then Steve leans away, holding something back from Jennifer and in response, Jennifer leans in wanting to know the problem. Jennifer continues to push and Steve leans farther away, retreating into himself even more. No one likes to be pushed.
Now what would happen if Jennifer where to stop leaning into Steve and stand straight once again? Steve would stop leaning away and begin to come back to standing tall and because she is no longer pushing him, Steve tells Jennifer what was bothering him. They talk through the problem and soon all is well, bringing the relationship back to parallel and health.
Pushing, prodding, distrusting and manipulating are not any part of committing to another person.
A committed, healthy, balanced relationship is one of the most rewarding things you will ever experience. Growing old with someone you love and who loves you equally is all you can really ask for in life.