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I came across this great little article by Randy Hicks that I thought you might enjoy reading. Warning! He "proposes marriage"!
But he has a very convincing argument...
Commitment With its Fingers Crossed
I had a pretty annoying habit well into my twenties. When someone would invite me to do something like meet for dinner on Saturday night, I would say I could probably make it, but wouldnt actually commit so that I could keep my options open in case something more appealing came along.
Essentially I was saying (though never verbally), Youre the best offer Ive gotright now. I was hedging my bets.
This came to mind recently when I saw a news report that Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez was planning a formal commitment ceremony with the girl he has dated for the last few years. Were not signing any papers, he told a reporter, but I wanted the world to know that I love her and want to spend my life with her. I did it the best way for me.
Ill avoid speculation about how one communicates to his girlfriend that hes committed to her for life while not being willing to make it official by getting married. But I think this story does raise several concerns.
Its likely that Tony Gonzalez really means well by doing what he is doing. He has declared his love and desire to spend his life with a woman he cares for. But for centuries these ingredients have usually manifested into the act of marriagea public declaration, recognized by law that you are wholly committed to one spouse and no one else. Is he communicating in word and deed that marriage doesnt matter?
Most who chose to respond to the news story in the blogs (web logs) wrote in support of Tonys plans. One blogger called him a man of the people, and said: When married, do you automatically begin to love your significant other that much more?? NO!!!!! Marriage is a title which serves little-to-no purpose, other than future headaches.
Unfortunately, this notion that marriage is meaningless reflects the feelings of a lot of folks today.
This is evidenced in part by the increased acceptance and prevalence of cohabitation. More and more people are opting to live like they are married, but are not willing to make the commitment up front.
In Georgia, it is estimated that there are over 160,000 households with unmarried partners. A recent Pew Research Center study found acceptance of cohabitation was highest among young adults.
I have written before about how, despite popular belief, choosing to cohabit rather than get married can be harmful.
Living together outside the total commitment of marriage is strongly linked to future instability in the relationship, reduced safety for the couple and any children involved, and less satisfaction and contentment with the relationship.
The fact is there is a difference between marriage and cohabitation. Part of the distinction is the mindset that each arrangement involves. The cohabiting person is essentially in a position to ask, Is this working for me?
Am I getting everything I want out of this relationship?
And there is that nagging question; Should I continue along this path? If feelings change, then there is an easy exit.
In cohabitation, it really doesnt have to work because getting out is relatively easy to do.
Unlike cohabitation, healthy marriage requires the spouse to approach the relationship with a mind toward making it work.
They are already on the path. As difficult as it may be sometimes, it is crucial in marriage to ask, Is my spouse satisfied? Am I giving my spouse everything he or she needs to be fulfilled in this relationship? In marriage, there is incentive to make it work that goes beyond satisfying ones own feelings. The act of getting married has made it clear for everyone to see this commitment is real.
Strange as this may sound, marriage is not just about feelings, even feelings of love. True love transcends feeling and is ultimately best expressed in a sacrificial commitment to the other person.
Author Maggie Gallagher, in her book The Abolition of Marriage, had this to say: Cohabitation comes wrapped in the language of commitment, but at its core it is about anxiety, commitment with its fingers crossed [It] is what lovers do when at least one of them does not dare to marry, to love without a net. It is yet another confirmation of the triumph of fear over love and perhaps the most destructive one.
Frankly, there is nothing heroic, or even romantic about solely looking out for your own interests in a relationship. This is a feelings-based approach that spells disaster down the road. For a relationship to work, there are times when it is necessary to ignore feelings, and choose to do what is in the other persons best interest.
Some of the most romantic stories and meaningful love songs I have heard portray a love relationship that transcends feelings to involve true sacrifice and the ability to overcome difficult trials.
I think about journalist and television commentator Mort Kondracke who cared for his wife Milly, who battled Parkinsons disease for over a decade before she died in 2004. Prior to her diagnosis, Milly had helped him overcome his alcoholism. Their story was told in a CBS television movie called Saving Milly. This is a story of true love.
True love and commitment is not all about feelings and self-fulfillment, it is about sacrifice.
Tony Gonzalez said, I did it the best way for me. But true and lasting love means committing yourself for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward, until death do us part.
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