Commitment is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. There are two major types of commitment: constraint and dedication.

Commitment Part 1: Do

Relationships are full of constraints - things that keep us in a relationship (even if we might want to leave in a moment of frustration): leases/mortgages, children, pets, joint bank accounts, and more. But constraints, when chosen freely and deliberately, can actually be good for our relationships! For example, during your solemnisation, you and your spouse made a public commitment to love each other through the good times and the bad. During a tough period, or in a fit of anger, remembering those vows and your mutual commitment to work through challenges and conflicts as a team will help you stay the course (assuming the relationship is healthy, and not abusive).

It is important to add constraints wisely, though, because the constraints you take on together chart the course for your relationship. For instance, as spouses discuss the possibility of children, it is very important to be on the same page and share a mutual desire for children and a commitment to the lifestyle changes and sacrifices that come with the transition to parenthood. Research shows that couples who make more thoughtful relationship decisions tend to be more dedicated and satisfied with their spouses. Communicating with your spouse and having a mutual understanding of your desires and concerns on important decisions is crucial. By doing so, we add constraints that actually help us build the life we envision together.  

Commitment Part 3  

While working through constraints together strengthens your relationship, your dedication to one another has a similar grounding force. When you’re deeply committed in marriage:

  • you develop a strong identity as a couple: a good balance of you, me and “we”.

  • you prioritise your relationship as you make plans for the future together: you find ways to dream and work toward goals together.

  • you’re willing to make healthy sacrifices for each other: even small sacrifices show a willingness to give of yourself to benefit the relationship.

  • you don't spend much time monitoring your alternatives: you are willing to give up other options and choices that might pull you apart because you stand by the choice you’ve made to be together.

These are all important commitment signals! When spouses are aligned in these areas, their dedication to one another is apparent. Commitment is the glue that holds relationships together through the ups and downs of life, and when you understand how commitment works and what it looks like, you’re able to cultivate deeper commitment to your spouse and discover meaningful ways to express it.

If you like what you read, check out other mini marriage PREP tips here!