Commitment requires effort, attention and a willingness to work on the relationship. Maintaining a commitment to a romantic partner isn’t necessarily easy, but the benefits can be immense. For one, you will have a partner with whom to share your life. You also learn more about yourself through shared experiences.
Making a Commitment
In his article, “Commitment in Healthy Relationships,” H. Wallace Goddard, professor of family life at University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, writes, “It makes sense that people who commit themselves to a relationship are more likely to find rewards than those who invest sporadically or half heartedly.” Goddard identifies three reasons people choose commitment: attraction, or because a partner wants to commit to the relationship; moral obligation, where partners believe they ought to commit; and commitment as constraint, where partners think they must commit to the relationship. Whatever the motivation, a commitment requires each partner to invest in the relationship.
Trust and Honesty
Trust and honesty are the cornerstones of committed relationships. Each partner expects the other to be honest about feelings and mistakes. Once trust is broken it can be difficult to rebuild. “Trust isn't given unconditionally. You have to be trustworthy to receive trust,” writes clinical psychologist John Townsend in his article, “Building Trust.” Trust is typically broken when someone in the relationship fails to be honest.
For many, it goes without saying that fidelity is an expectation of a committed relationship. Remaining faithful to a mate strengthens trust. Infidelity seriously diminishes trust and can cause psychological distress to the partner who stepped out of the relationship, notes sociology professor Pepper Schwartz in her article, “Fidelity,” on the Psychology Today website. Keeping track of the lies and deceit that accompany infidelity can weigh heavily on one’s conscience. In most committed relationships, each partner vows to remain sexually exclusive.
Partners within long-term relationships must have mutual respect. In her article, “Promise Keepers – The Committed Partners who Stay Faithful to Each Other,” Randi Gunther, a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, writes, “Couples who stay faithful speak to each other with obvious respect.” Even in the face of a disagreement, respect fosters healthy communication.
Communication in a committed relationship should be open and clear. Open communication means that partners are free to express themselves and speak their minds without fear of ridicule. Open and clear communication is also useful in the event that conflicts arise. Each partner should practice active listening and pay attention to nonverbal cues in order to resolve conflicts.