Couple holding hands. Growing Together in a Relationship.

Growing together in a relationship can be difficult, but it is a choice that you and your partner have to make together. This might look like marriage counseling, intentional discussions, or relationship coaching to work together on building the foundations of your relationship, but the choice has to be yours. 

Whether you are just starting out, going through a long distance relationship, in a marriage of multiple years, or anywhere in between, each relationship is unique and has its tests. 

What do you think of when you hear the word “commitment?”  On a small scale, I often think of “obligations” that I would prefer to be free from. For example, being committed to going to a social gathering when I’d prefer to be at home watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix or my “commitment” to being fiscally responsible despite my firm belief in retail therapy. 

What about commitment in terms of a relationship? Currently, we live in a culture where commitment isn’t always valued. For example, we get many messages that if something or someone does not bring you happiness, you should discard it or find someone else who makes you feel [fill in the blank]. Temporary everything seems to be the name of the game lately. 

Sometimes we buy into the notion that the grass is greener on the other side and we shouldn’t waste time being unhappy. If we buy into these messages, we can start to view commitment as something that we only do when we feel like it. 

Commitment is Not a Feeling, It’s a Choice

Commitment is a major key to long-lasting relationships.

Honestly, it’s much easier to feel like being committed in the beginning of a relationship when things are fun, new, easy, and exciting. It’s much harder to stay committed to someone when the monotony of everyday life (and stress) sets in, or when the reality of being in the relationship is different from what you expected. 

So what do you do when the new relationship bliss has long worn off and you’re left wondering if maybe you’re just not as compatible as you once thought? 

Commitment is a major key to long-lasting relationships. Why is that? Because commitment is a choice. It’s a conscious decision to choose your partner even on the days when they’ve disappointed you, hurt your feelings, or when you feel that initial spark has gone away. Commitment is the choice to love your partner despite their annoying habits, their flaws, and their mistakes. 

There are levels of commitment in a relationship, meaning that you decide how committed (or not) you and your partner are willing to be. 

What is Commitment in a Relationship?

What, then, is commitment in a relationship? Does it look like one certain thing or is a combination of actions and practice that combine to create a lasting bond

Commitment in relationships can mean different things to different couples, depending on what the needs are in their particular partnership. Practice a few key skills that will result in a strengthened connection that is less likely to crumble at the slightest hint of monotony or struggle.

We can break these skills down into a few key components that, when we think about it, make up the essence of a strong relationship. 

Grow Together

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Growing Together in a Relationship

The goal is to grow together in your relationship, to make conscious choices and then follow through on them. You can strengthen the commitment in your relationship by practicing a two key skills:

#1 Trust

Trust is the foundation that is needed for commitment because it allows you to feel physically and emotionally safe in your partnership. With trust often comes loyalty, friendship, and mutual respect. Not only that, it also often leads to an acceptance of one another that allows for the ability to extend the “benefit of the doubt” to your partner when they disappoint you.

Trust should be formed early on in a relationship, but it doesn’t always go this way. This is a foundational aspect of a relationship because without trust, communication may falter and this next step may not be possible. If trust isn’t established early on, you may have to work on this later in your relationship when things come up.

#2 Forgiveness

This can be difficult when you feel your needs or wants have gone unmet by your partner, which can easily lend itself to a feeling of resentment. While communicating with your partner about those unmet needs is necessary, choosing to let go of the resentment and the hurt feelings that linger after you have resolved the issue is a continuous process.

While trust comes first in any relationship at a foundational level, forgiveness acts as a supporting pillar that can make or break the bond that you have chosen to build up over time. Choosing commitment means choosing to let go of past hurts without holding your partner’s mistakes against them.

Lack of Commitment in a Relationship

It can be difficult to feel as if you or your partner are unable to fully commit to your relationship. 

Lack of commitment may present itself as a lack of communication. For example, maybe you and your partner don’t seem to be arguing but instead are avoiding communication altogether. This can be frustrating and the situation may build on itself if not resolved. 

This ties back into trust and forgiveness, our building blocks to the relationship. 

Remember, however, that it is normal to hit rough patches and that there are always ways to rebuild. 

How To Show Commitment in a Relationship

…[T]aking advantage of the small opportunities for connection enhances your relationship.

Choosing to be emotionally available to your partner by choosing vulnerability and connection, as opposed to pulling away, is an important step toward being committed to your relationship. 

Part of turning toward your partner is choosing to be present in the small, everyday moments that you share with your partner. For example, say you and your partner just sat down for your usual Friday night Netflix binge (can you tell what I do in my spare time?) and you hear them let out a sigh. Turning toward your partner would be pausing and asking them if they’re okay. 

While such a moment may seem insignificant, taking advantage of the small opportunities for connection enhances your relationship. Your partner will be reminded that you care and that you are there to be a supportive person in their life when they need it

This also helps to build trust, which is essential to commitment.

What Does Commitment Mean in a Relationship?

In a healthy partnership, commitment is a necessary choice. Relationships naturally go through ebbs and flows, and going through the ebbs can really make the choice to continue to commit to your partner difficult. However, committing to your partner in the “ebbs” allows you to experience the “flows,” or the fullness of your relationship.

I hope this piece helps you take a moment to remind yourself that commitment is a process and, like anything, there are highs and lows. Nurturing the fundamental elements of your partnership will help you to work toward a committed, long-lasting relationship in a healthy way. 

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