The most important, most critical component in successful loving is commitment. Not love.
It’s easy to love without commitment. People do it all the time. Easy to love, to give of oneself for a while. But commitment implies bonding in such a way that one promises to keep the fires of love burning indefinitely. It also means shutting one’s heart to the possibility of loving another who might even be more attractive, even more lovable. Not easy. This is why solid commitments are not at all as common as we are led to believe. In fact, more often than not, I think that the commitment two lovers make are not equal. What I mean is that the commitment of one might be a whole lot more or a whole lot less than the partner’s. We see it all the time. One loves more than the other and is more committed than the other. We have often seen lopsided love relationships where one partner is giving so much more to the relationship than the other.
But writers and poets seem to always indicate that love isn’t just a two-way street, but an equal two-way street. That hardly ever happens. It is impossible to determine exactly how much a man loves a woman or how much a woman cares for a man. Love cannot be measured and that can be a huge problem. You can love someone and tell him “I love you” and you’re telling the truth. But how much do you love him? Enough to let him court you? Enough to marry him? Enough to die for him? THE GREATEST TEST OF TRUE LOVE is commitment. And the greatest indicator of deep love is deep commitment. I have heard people say all the right words, make all the right moves and pledge undying love, only to walk away weeks or months later. Were they in love? Sure they were. But not enough to allow them to hold strong in their love. Not enough to keep a commitment regardless of the pain.
Lover gets this sinking feeling when there is a sense that one is more committed than the other. When
one is giving a lot more than one is receiving. When one’s love is a lot more solid than the creaky love of the partner. When a couple believe strongly that their commitment to each other is rock solid, there is a deep sense of security, a feeling that it’s OK to give all because the gift of yourself is safe in the hands of the beloved. If, however, there is doubt or, even worse, the conviction that one is engaged in one-way giving, in a one-way commitment that is lopsided, then there is a tendency to pull back and not give as much. And when that happens, love begins to fade.
In the countless counseling sessions I have had with troubled couples over the years, there has always been the problem of a failing commitment on the part of at least one of the partners. Unless there is the raising of the level of commitment, the relationship is doomed. It’s finished. Sooner or later the stresses will take their toll and the relationship will begin to fall apart. On the other hand, look carefully at couples who are still very much in love after 20, 25 years. Their commitment to each other cannot be shaken. Neither can their love.