As I watch the number of older couples on our cruise, I am curious as to where they are from, if this their first cruise, how long they have been married, and what keeps them together? Some of them are in scooters or wheelchairs, others are physically impaired either with walking difficulties or are very out of shape. Others have lost their youthful appearance and are no longer attractive but still, there is loving activity between these life-mates. What is the secret to staying in love? Is it the rhythm these couples have established over the years? Is it the many memories of building a life together? Is it the sacrifices they have made for one another? Is it the combined finances and the service they have given?
Talking with couples, it is all of it. Some have been retired for years and spend every waking minute together. Many have shared hopes to travel the world and be introduced to other cultures. Others have shared interests and recreational similarities playing golf or cards, doing puzzles, or playing Yahtzee or dominos. Many share a love for reading and trivia. It is fun to observe them. It is a sharp contrast to what I usually see in modern relationships. Commitment is a word that does not have a shared meaning in the culture. Building a life together, no matter what, is less appealing to this generation. Millennials get married less and live together more, swapping partners on average (according to research) every three years. Is this the new normal?
When I teach adolescents, I ask them what they are committed to. Many give me a “deer in the headlights” look. I ask if they are committed to breathing. Of course, they are. They would fight if anyone tried to take away their ability to breathe. Then I ask if they are committed to brushing their teeth, eating well, serving others, being kind? What about doing well in school, honoring their parents, staying away from high risk behaviors or winning a game?
Commitment needs to be operationalized as to its deepest meaning and taught in a way that makes it relevant when things, including relationships, appear to be disposable. Commitment builders include shared positive experiences, making memories and dedication to humor and flexibility. Brene’ Brown, in her best-selling book, Dare to Lead, talks about staying in the arena, being “all in” even when things are a struggle. Other commitment builders are thinking about what makes your partner happy or ways to improve the relationship, letting your beloved know how important they are to you. Listening more and speaking less. Expressing the desire to know what is on the heart of your partner is a way to develop intimacy and closeness. To stay committed to your loved one, we must work hard to stay away from temptations. We must build a wall around our relationship that does not allow anyone else in. This is a distraction that will tear the relationship apart. Commitment is promise and a pledge. When we commit, let’s be “all in”. email@example.com; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
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