A recent survey found that 84% of women and 82% of men in the US crave commitment and report that being married someday is “very” or “somewhat” important to them. That said, many people seek lasting commitment, often in the form of marriage. This can be a healthy desire if we bring realistic expectations to it. But many adults don’t have a healthy template of marriage to follow when it comes to nurturing and sustaining a committed relationship, making it difficult to know where to start.
Are young adults abandoning commitment all together? No exactly but over the last fifty years, there has been a quiet shift in the landscape of family life in America. Approximately 50 percent of adults over age eighteen marry; this number is compared to 72% in 1960, according to The Pew Research Center. The medium age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7years) according to this report.
Some think this decline is because the progression of individualism has made it more difficult for couples to achieve satisfying and stable relationships. Others believe that changes, such as increasing acceptance of singlehood and cohabitation, have made our lives richer because we have more opportunities for personal growth.
Most observers agree that ambiguity in romantic relationships is on the increase in the past decade and options range from friends with benefits to indecision about permanent commitment. Perhaps one the most compelling reasons is cultural since the first generation of children to grow up witnessing mass divorce are now making their own decisions about love and commitment.
In fact, fear of relationship failure plagues many of us who grew up in a culture of divorce, even if our parents stayed together. It makes sense that people in their 20’s and 30’s might hedge their bets and see relationships as risky if they watched their parents’ marriage fail or even relatives and friend’s parents’ marriage collapse.
6 Tips to Overcoming Your Fear of Commitment:
- Face your fear of commitment. If you still have baggage from the past that is unresolved, do your best to seek counseling or attend a support group.
- Don’t let your “What Ifs” get in your way. This might range from “What if I get hurt” to “What if this relationship ends in divorce.” Challenge your thinking and don’t give in to self-sabotaging thoughts.
- Remember that life is more rewarding when you take risks and make a commitment to someone who seems to be a good match for you and is trustworthy. If you wait for the perfect partner or soul mate you may never find love. This doesn’t mean that you should settle for less than you deserve.
- Take your time dating someone and make sure you’ve known them for at least two years to reduce your chance of divorce. What’s the rush? Give yourself the chance to really get to know a new partner gradually so you can develop a true friendship.
- Make sure that you have common values with individuals who you date. If you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that could put you more at risk for divorce.
- Learn to trust your judgment and be consistent with your commitment. Commitment to someone you love and consider your best friend and partner is not an on-again, off-again proposition.
What is it that holds you back from achieving a satisfying relationship? And once you have it, what will you do when you get there? These questions can help guide you to making a decision that is best for you. Remember, commitment to the right person, who you are compatible with, can bring joy and happiness. But by all means take your time and don’t let others pressure you into making a commitment before you are ready.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry