The Fifth “C,” Commitment, is the fifth in a series of five blogs on The 5 C’s of Good Relationships.
It is impossible to have a long term relationship without commitment. Commitment is the glue, the container that holds the relationship together in the face of the insults and injuries of everyday partnership life. Like courtesy, commitment is a discipline and a path. Partners speak of making a commitment to one another, as if we are committing to the other person. However, at CRR Global we hold it a little differently, as a commitment to a spiritual path you are both willing to explore.
The word commitment closes off some people’s throats, leaving them gasping for air, especially in this era of “hook ups.” It sounds like hard work, limiting, confining. And it is those things, sometimes. Sometimes marriage feels stifling. We grow weary of the compromises. We get bored with familiarity. We chafe under the bonds. This is because commitment is a container.
Commitment is like a vessel that holds something you care about, whether it is family, a talent for baseball or a project. And if you want to be good at something you care about you dedicate yourself to it. You submit to the routine, you practice the drills that give you mastery, you show up over and over even when you would rather sleep in. You do this because when you practice your craft, dive deeply into the mysteries of it, that discipline becomes a profound expression of who you are. Eventually all that discipline falls away and there are moments of transcendent freedom, when you are playing the instrument of your Third Entity together effortlessly.
Focus and commitment produce depth of experience. Good partnerships develop a kind of patina, a smooth silky quality of interaction from years of sanding down the bumps and snags. Like polished beach wood each one has a unique shape from the weathering effects of their common experience. This is worth having.
Everyone knows that most things require some maintenance. You have to weed your garden, feed your body, change the oil in your car. Yet people seem to think that when they get together the relationship should just work effortlessly with absolutely NO effort into taking care of it. This drives me crazy–truly it never occurs to most people that relationships need maintenance. We are never taught even the simplest relationship hygiene. Why is this? There is absolutely nowhere else in our lives where expect something to run smoothly with no effort at all.
Like any container, commitment has boundaries. However, those boundaries also create the protection and focus. Your commitment to each other is an agreement that defines the boundaries and safety net of your relationship. What you commit to is less important than the fact that you commit to it together. For example you may have a commitment to have an open marriage, or to making a long distance relationship work.
And, of course, commitment is a set of agreements, a DPA (Designed Partner Alliance), which you can count on. This is the essence of the marriage vows which are aspirational but also practical. “Yes you can count on me when you get sick or times get tough.” As with any DPA, commitments can be updated, changed and negotiated.
What are the commitments that you have with your partner? What it working or not working? Do any need to be updated?