For a relationship to culminate in a successful, long-term, committed union, a five-step relationship-building process must be acknowledged, understood, and followed.
The five necessary steps to a long-term relationship
The path from initial initiation to a long-term commitment relationship goes through five distinct relationship phases: (1) Step 1: The Transitional Relationship, (2) Step 2: The Recovery Relationship, (3) Step 3: The Pre-Commitment Relationship, (4) Step 4: The committed relationship and (5) Step 5: The marital relationship. (For a discussion of relaxing, predetermined, and committed relationships, see David Steele, Conscious partner search(Campbell, CA, RCN Press, 2008)).
This article addresses the fourth step in the relationship building process, Step 4: The Committed Relationship.
The solid relationship is the time when both partners pull together
The previously completed leisure and advance performance levels were aimed at the individual chemistry or logical analysis. The committed step changes the focus to the couple as a team even in relation to each other. The focus is no longer on “I” and “I”. Now the focus is on “us”, “our” and “we”.
A serious relationship is one in which both partners believe that their personal individual needs can be met in the relationship. Her attention now turns to the future and more specifically to how she will be as Few work together, promise that the relationship between them will work.
Goal and the motivating question. The goal of an engaged relationship is to develop ways to constructively resolve issues and manage differences that arise in a relationship. The driving question that motivates this relationship is, “How can we as a couple make this work?”
The roles you and your partner play. Typically, the partners in a couple refer to each other as “my fiancé” and are very public about their relationship. The conversation focuses on making plans for their future together.
The essence of a committed relationship. The “feeling” in the commitment phase is that of close-knit teamwork. A sense of “we’re in this together” around shared values for how everyone wants to spend the rest of their lives together. This is the first time that the couple working together has been given responsibility for developing the relationship. Until now, it has been up to the individual to do the work, separate and separate from their partner. Now the couple is working together to figure out how WE can make this relationship work.
You and your partner are expected to be team players, willing and able to compromise to make the relationship work. Note that in the committed relationship phase, all of the individual needs of both partners have been settled in the previous phase of the pre-committed relationship. Compromises for the benefit of the team are therefore in the realm of desire, not non-negotiable requirements.
The back doors to a Be committed relationship
“Backdoors” are ways that allow one to “escape” from the relationship.
The backdoor to a transitional, recovery, or predetermined relationship is relatively easy, even easy. You can end with a version of “This is not working out for me” and then say goodbye à la Paul Simon’s song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. I know this oversimplifies a complex, highly emotional situation. Yet there is no legal contract that can be broken and only a moderately strong social/psychological contract that holds the couple together.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to end a committed relationship. There are no legal contracts yet, but the social/psychological contract is extraordinarily strong. A lot of time was spent making plans for a future together as a couple. Expectations are deep and wide. Wedding plans are often in the works.
A client of mine ended a multi-year relationship two weeks before her wedding, causing a rift in her family. Ten years later, her siblings are still so angry and upset that they refuse to start a relationship with their sister, which only prevented a big mistake by ending the relationship.
Possible problems with a committed relationship
The committed relationship requires the two partners to work together and use their interpersonal skills to solve problems and manage conflict. Common potential problems are: Housing? Who works, does what? When, if ever, start a family? How many children? How and how much money to save? How much should you involve in-laws in your life? The list goes on.
But what happens if they cannot or do not want to find answers to such questions? The relationship suffers and failure is possible.
Common committed step errors include:
(1) Taking the relationship for granted and expecting the other partner to do all the work,
(2) Trying to do all the work yourself and shutting out your partner,
(3) treat a need as a requirement,
(5) Refusing to learn and apply the problem-solving and conflict management skills necessary for the committed relationship to function.
So what’s the point?
Committing to another person to live together as an intimate couple is a serious, life-changing decision. It’s about more than chemistry and trust that the needs of both sides can be met. In the previous three relationship phases, the major part of relationship development lies in each individual calculating “What’s in it for me?”.
In the phase of the steady relationship, however, the stakes are greatly increased. Now the question is, can the two people working together make the relationship successful and long-lasting? Equally important, have them will Investing the effort and learning required to make the relationship successful?
Committing to another person to live life together takes courage, determination, and the humility to admit that you don’t have all the answers and are willing to learn. Your life changes. Will you have the courage to let go of your resistance to the changes that a committed relationship brings and to expose yourself to someone else so you can help shape the relationship of your dreams?
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