One manifestation of this artful dodge is that marriage ages have gone up and up in recent decades along with the cohabitation stats. Divorce numbers bear out the same fact on the back end; younger couples are more likely to divorce than older pairs, likely testament to our immaturity. Commitment, as it turns out, is the province of mature adults, and as scholars like Kay S. Hymowitz argue, men are increasingly foreigners to the region.
There are myriad reasons for the abovementioned realities, and the present state of marriage is heavier fare than this piece can tackle. I only want to address the issue of commitment, its lack and its need.
The former is apparent to all, or at least to most of the women I talk with and also many of the men who avoid the topic. But what of the need?
Passionate feelings will get a relationship off the ground, but they won’t carry it aloft for long. “Sexual desire may be a powerful impetus for bonding in animals but is an enormous barrier to comfortable relations among human beings,” penned psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, no great lobbyist for traditional Christian morality, by the way. “The reason is that sexual desire is rarely exactly reciprocal between two persons….”
We know this intuitively (just ask couples how their sex lives have been over the last couple of weeks), though we often foolishly and selfishly reject the ramifications. But the ramifications are as obvious as they are unavoidable. “[N]o one wants to lust after an unwilling, or even less willing, partner; nor does anyone want to be lusted after, and be the ‘sex object’ of, a more lusting partner,” says Szasz. Ergo, while boundless passion may work wonders if you’re trying to create a hook-up culture, it makes a lousy foundation for a lasting relationship. At some point, usually early on, people’s interests fall out of alignment and the gears clash. If there isn’t more to fall back on, trouble pops up quickly thereafter.
Where mere passion won’t serve, sacrifice will. And not once in a fever. For a relationship to last, partners must be willing to lay down their life over and again, to reliably set mutual interests — even the personal interests of the other — ahead of their own. This kind of mutual submission keeps the gears in sync.
Reliability matters because trust is what counts here. Fickle hearts do not firm marriages make. Women can correct me if I’m wrong, but observation and personal failure tell me that more often than not they want passion backed with promise. Temporary romance can spring and wither like a weed. For real romance to take root and grow, it needs the kind of trust that can only flourish with serious commitment.
Question: What do you think prevents men from commitment?