Relationship Fitness

S18: Action E12: Choosing to Commit Can Be a Good Thing

Season 18, Episode 12 of “Relationship Workout for Men” delves into the nuances of committing to a long-term relationship, emphasizing that such a commitment can bring significant benefits despite common fears and hesitations. This episode discusses how building a life together can deepen companionship and provide mutual support, transforming both partners’ lives positively. It encourages listeners to look beyond the immediate apprehensions of commitment, to focus on the long-term rewards of building a shared history with a loved one.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 18 Episode 12:  Choosing to Commit Can Be a Good Thing

Some couples enjoy a deeply fulfilling relationship yet face hesitation when it comes to long-term commitment; one partner may find it daunting, preferring to date and maintain the current dynamic. You both share a strong love, compatibility, and minimal drama. The joy you experience together is remarkable, and your Relationship Workout Program gives you an A-grade. Everything points to ‘yes’, but when contemplating a lasting commitment, the reply is consistently a tentative ‘I’m not sure.’

Consider setting aside the hesitations. Commitment can streamline life and open the door to greater joy, focusing your passion on the woman you love and perhaps embarking on the adventure of family life together. Yes, parenting is demanding, but the joys are boundless. 

And remember, the woman you adore may not indefinitely pause her life for you. If you’re fortunate enough to have a thriving relationship, cherish it, and don’t let apprehension risk what you have.

Conversely, are frequent arguments overshadowing your relationship? Maybe you both have crucial must-haves that aren’t being fulfilled by the other? Issues might linger unresolved despite your best efforts, and self-inflicted drama could be overshadowing the joy and connection you should be experiencing together. Is your fun-to-drama ratio consistently less than one, with drama outnumbering the good times?

When is it time to consider that parting ways could be the healthier option? It may be the moment to grant each other the freedom to find joy elsewhere. After all, life is one-time journey – why spend it in discontent?

As discussed in the last two episodes, consider utilizing the Five-Step Action Plan to help you make the Relationship Decision to Commit, Breakup or Persevere. 

That all said, in this last episode for Season 18, I’d like to revisit four points:

First, accurately assess your role in the relationship’s drama.

Before deciding on a breakup, it’s crucial to reflect on your contribution to the conflict, as highlighted in Season 17: ‘Focus on Improving.’ Are your actions influenced by ego, inner demons, or negative thought patterns? 

Did you honestly answer the questions in the Relationship Workout Program? When I first completed the program, it gave me 21 high priority recommendations for me to work on. By looking at this list, it was clear I had a lot to work on to reduce the drama I was contributing to my marriage. What about you? It’s okay if you’re not perfect; none of us are.

Also, remember, it doesn’t matter who starts the arguments. What matters is how you behave when drama is brewing to scalding at full boil.

Recall a commitment to relationship excellence means intentionally staying out in front of the relationship quality train — remaining conscious, applying your strong relationship tools from a place of a collaborative team player — to facilitate the brainstorming process required to understand issues more completely and to generate new potential resolution ideas. Until you can approach all issues from this level of self-awareness, then consider refraining from breaking up. You may discover, you’re actually the one contributing significantly to the drama and you’re lucky she hasn’t left you yet. 

Second, take a step back and evaluate: is the bulk of the drama truly originating from her?

If this is the case, you’ll have a decision to make if you can honestly say you’re remaining in front of the relationship quality train, consistently making Strong Relationship Plays, but she’s remained stuck trying to fight in the boxcars. At some point, enough may feel like enough, especially if there is abuse involved as discussed in episode eight.

You can’t control her. Lecturing her will probably only build resentment, because if she honestly wanted to hear what you had to say, then she likely wouldn’t keep fighting with you in the box cars. She, and she alone, will need to make the decision to let go of her ego. She alone can gain control of her Demons. She alone can witness her thoughts. She alone is responsible for her journey. Not you.

But three, remember patience is a virtue (and reduces drama)

If you can honestly stay at peace and not contribute to relationship drama, you will likely discover that there will be a reduction in the overall level of drama. Whenever you get triggered (regardless of who was triggered first), you run the risk of feeding into her getting (further) triggered — just escalating the drama. 

On the other hand, if you can get to a place where you rarely get triggered, and rarely add fuel to the drama fire, then you’ve gone a long way to helping to reduce the overall drama in your relationship. 

And if you’re married with children, this could be your best course of action, versus leaving her and breaking up the family – introducing a whole new set of potential drama in your life. 

Of course, only you can be a judge of whether to stay or go. 

And four, making a long-term commitment doesn’t have to be scary

Many men struggle with the idea of a long-term commitment, held back by a tangle of complex reasons. At the core of this hesitation is often the fear of sacrificing one’s identity or independence, as commitment suggests a departure from the freedoms of being single.

Financial concerns can add to this anxiety, with the prospect of being a provider to your wife and family feeling overwhelming for some, casting doubt on their readiness and capacity to assume such responsibilities.

Societal pressures also loom large, where the drive to ‘get it right’ breeds worry over selecting the ideal partner or finding the perfect moment to commit, especially against the backdrop of prevalent divorce rates.

Emotional vulnerability is another critical aspect. Deep intimacy demands openness, and for some, the prospect of heartache, disappointment, or the resurgence of past wounds is daunting. Thus, the leap to commit is not just about marital readiness, but a nexus of individual, emotional, and social elements that intersect at a pivotal juncture in a man’s journey.

Wow, that seems like a lot. 

But let me say I don’t know that the decision to make a long-term commitment needs to be that scary. Remember, back in episode 3, I made the point that men really want three things in a long-term relationship: Companionship, sex and honesty. 

Well, I can say 18 years into my relationship with my wife, if honesty is maintained, what emerges in importance is companionship. I’m not saying that sex goes away by any means, but what I am saying is you spend a great deal more time being companions to each other, having each other’s back. 

And year-after-year of being together, sharing experiences– some good, some bad and, honestly, some ugly – creates a bank of memories that deepens the companionship with every additional deposit. Even the ugly experiences can ultimately deepen the companionship as you prove to each other you can work through the toughest of issues.

And although every man’s life’s journey is unique, choosing not to engage in a long-term commitment, such as marriage, brings certain potential risks such as 

1. There are Emotional and Psychological Risks:

  •  Loneliness: Without a partner to share life’s journey, a man may face periods of loneliness, especially as he grows older.
  • Lack of Support: In times of hardship, illness, or aging, the absence of a committed partner may mean a lack of emotional and practical support.
  • Regret: There is a potential for regret later in life, particularly if the decision was based on fear or avoidance rather than a genuine desire for independence.

2. There are Health Risks:

  • Mental Health: Studies suggest that healthy, committed relationships can lead to better mental health outcomes. Prolonged solitude may contribute to depression or anxiety for some.
  • Physical Health: Married individuals often have better physical health outcomes, potentially due to shared health habits and a partner who encourages medical care.

3. Economic Risks:

  • Financial Insecurity: A single income can sometimes lead to financial vulnerability, and single individuals may miss out on economic benefits and tax breaks afforded to married couples.
  • Legacy Considerations: Without a spouse or children, there may be concerns about legacy, inheritance issues, and the management of one’s estate posthumously.

4. Personal Development Risks:

  • Growth and Compromise: Long-term relationships often foster personal growth through compromise, understanding, and shared experiences. Avoiding commitment may limit these opportunities.
  • Life Experiences: A committed relationship can enrich life with unique experiences and lessons that might not be encountered while single.

Of course, these potential risks don’t apply uniformly to all individuals; personal disposition, social networks, life circumstances, and individual choices shape the impact. For some men, the independence and freedom of remaining uncommitted align with their life goals and personal fulfillment. The decision is deeply personal and should be respected as such, with each person assessing the balance between the risks and rewards based on their values and aspirations.

I’m just saying that if you love someone, and you’re not committed to a lifetime of bachelorhood, and there aren’t any showstopper incompatibilities or abuse going on, then do the work to improve the quality of your relationship. 

Real life may not be reflected in a 90-minute romantic comedy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a quality companionship for life. Commit yourself to relationship excellence and feel more confident making and enjoying that long-term commitment.

So with that, we wrap up season 18, discussing Relationship Workout Core #15: Action, and the foundational relationship question: “Are you taking action to improve the quality of your relationship?”

In the next season, we switch gears and start to hear from relationship experts their unique insights on how men can choose and be better partners.

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