So it’s almost time for the big day, I’m talking about Valentine’s day. If you, like me, cringe and groan at the mere mention of V-day you are not alone. The message behind the commercialization is another groan inducing word for many of us. That word, of course is “commitment.” So let’s put on our grown up pants, just for a few minutes, and unpack “commitment.”

To many people commitment is a scary word. It’s frightening for good reason! Thinking about what goes into a committed relationship got me thinking about the nature of commitment itself. It’s funny the same word that describes devotion is also used to to implicate insanity. Let’s check out the dictionary for some illumination. Which of these definitions of commitment rings true to you?

Commitment is defined as...

a pledge or promise; obligation: engagement; involvement

Aaaand it’s also defined as…

perpetration of a crime.

Consignment to prison.

confinement to a mental institution or hospital:

So commitment implies insanity, deviance, and everlasting love...hmmm ponderous.. I would like to ask the reader to reflect on their own definition of commitment in a relationship. Is it a promise that we make to ourselves and our partners? Or is it a voluntary assignment to long-term incarceration?

Let’s choose the high road for our topic today. Here are some inspiring thoughts on commitment in relationships.

Commitment as passion.
Commitment emanates from passion -- passion is usually the reason we became committed in the first place! Being with the one you love, pushing forward into the cruel world together, creating a haven of nurturing support, these are the deeply satisfying rewards to those in passionate committed relationships.

Commitment as action.
People who are committed show that commitment, over and over, in their actions. We refuse to accept less than the best from our selves and others. If our actions don’t match our commitment, we simply aren’t committed. Commitment inspires us to reach for quality and excellence.

Commitment as obligation.
What separates the truly committed from the rest is the way we embrace the crappiest parts of the job. Which may include buying a Valentines’ Day card. We do these things not because they are fun or pleasurable but because commitment demands we do them.

We are willing to go to great lengths in support of our commitment. Commitment drives us and anchors us during challenging times. Commitment helps us to maintain our integrity.

Commitment as voluntary.
Commitment is obligation, yes, but it’s freely chosen obligation. It is that choice that makes it a commitment — without the choice it’s just slavery.

Commitment requires insight and self-awareness -- one must know one's values and ideals in order to commit to them! Commitment is difficult if you don't know what's most important to you. Commitment requires an ability to observe oneself and make conscious decisions.

When we feel forced into something, when our duties to our partner become a ball and chain, when our actions fail to match our beliefs — these are signs that our commitment may be wavering. Pay attention to those signs — they foretell the shifting of our pledge and promise into our prison.

Let’s face it. The majority of marriages experience infidelity; and we’re all aware of the divorce rate. So if our most honored commitments aren’t kept perhaps we need to understand why that is so.

One issue is that we’re making promises about behaviors and outcomes, but sweeping under the rug the process necessary to achieve those outcomes. The commitment becomes lip service. Unless we are acting with earnest devotion towards the goal the commitment is just talk. Some of these goals are life-long love, happiness and fidelity. If we learn to commit fully to the process then the results will be what they should be. But, if we commit merely to the results and ignore the process, we’ve sabotaged both.

Rachael Carey and Andy Robinson is a Hypnotherapist in Reno, NV.

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