Commitment: in or out?

Posted by in Life

Spring is in the air. People are coming out of hibernation and everywhere you hear about love and relationships.

I recently discovered the work of Wednesday Martin and her book: UNTRUE: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Adultery is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free in which, among other things, the author “asserts that monogamy is a tighter fit for the fairer sex.”

I was never the cheating type. But I’ve rarely been the long-term relationship kind either. So, I had to wonder:

Does being “untied” mean that you give up on commitment?

Do I want to commit to someone else? To “dedicate myself to them wholeheartedly”? Hell no!

It’s a good thing my Italian grandmother does not speak English, because she’d be very disappointed in me. For her, a woman’s job is the commit 100% to her husband. To dedicate her life to make him happy.

I want to dedicate my life to make ME happy. Yes, I’m selfish like that. But I happen to think that without that, there’s no way I can make anyone else happy. I also happen to believe that no one should wait for someone else to make them happy.

My mother often reminds me how selfishly I have chosen to live my life. “You don’t have to care for anyone but you,” she reproaches. She sees failure where I see success. Caring about myself is already a full time job and I’m glad I’m being productive on the matter and not adding someone else’s happiness to my to-do list!

I was doing a bit of research on wedding vows to understand what commitment means to people when I found this nugget:

I, <Groom’s name>, take thee, <Bride’s name>, to my wedded wife.
To have and to hold from this day forward; for better for worse,
for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
(Groom) To love and to cherish, till death us do part.
(Bride) To love, cherish, and obey, till death us do part.

According to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Church of England

Check out the part I bolded… nothing seems inadequate to you? Somehow, historically, the expected commitment to a significant other is not a very balanced one.

Thanks but… no thanks.

Now, does that mean I’m a commitment-phobe who’s already wondering how she’s going to get out of her most recent burgeoning relationship? Not so fast.

Refusing to commit to a person does not mean I won’t commit to make a relationship work. But there, my commitment goes to this thing we’re starting together. Commitment is a contract we agree on, a structure we’re building upon.

Turns out, the objective of that type of commitment is more freedom. And we’re coming full-circle here. A relationship-centric commitment is untying: it’s you and him / her / them [pick your favorite option here], outside of what people, culture and society impose that your relationship should look like.

For as long as you both should… choose.

Photo by Sarah Cervantes