Fear of Commitment
I feel a “Back in my day …” comment brewing, no doubt showing my age.
It used to be that men who avoided marriage were categorized as having a fear of commitment. They didn’t want to be tied down to one woman, to give up their independence or have to answer to anyone as to where they were going or when they’d be back. However, being tied down to a job and the responsibilities attached to that didn’t seem to bother them.
But women figured a way around their hesitation – they’d simply move in with these guys, perhaps with the notion that they’d change them, show them how great being married was.
However, as time as marched on, it became more and more popular for couples to just live together – no commitment, no vows, no permanency. Sort of try before you buy. But then again – maybe people aren’t into the idea of “buying.”
Is the idea of dating – the time when couples are supposed to get to know each other to see if this was “lifetime partnership material” – pretty much over? When – and why – did it become acceptable for people to shun the traditional norms of marriage for living together? Why is a person good enough to live with, but not good enough to marry? Or is it that marriage is no longer a popular idea that holds value? Maybe people don’t want to make a commitment of that magnitude, to promise themselves to another for the remainder of their lives.
You may think that I am being facetious, but I’m not. I really don’t understand.
When you live with someone and then break up, the hurt isn’t less because you never got married. I would think that you would pretty much feel robbed of the time invested in this person that ended with nothing. But then again, maybe because there was never an exchange of vows the expectations are less.
Of course I understand that the bonds of marriage – and parenthood – also mean little to some.
I was watching a program on television the other night and it centered on a young woman who took up crystal meth some months ago in response to being all but abandoned by her mother – who took up crystal meth in response to trying to maintain perfection as a wife and mother. The mother wrecked not only her own life but that of her husband, son and daughter because she couldn’t keep the commitment she made.
What a selfish thing to do.
While deserting a mate is bad, abandoning a child is worse. The mate has tools to figure out how to move forward, but the scars the child bears can have devastating consequences.
I remember when I, as a young mother, had to make a conscious choice as to whether to try and keep the perfect house or do the best I could while my husband and I raised four rambunctious boys. Anyone visiting my house will know that I focused on the kids. However, as they grew older, they needed less attention and, with the exception of pushing each other through a window (yes that has happened in the last couple of years and it was an accident – I was told), I’m able to shift my focus to other things. That’s one reason I waited until my late 40s to start such a demanding business. The business – like my children when they were younger – demands a lot of my attention and I had to make a commitment to it.
So, I guess commitment equals fear for many and actually that’s understandable, too. After all, committing to something or someone takes away the option of dedicating oneself to the single-minded purpose of pursuing personal happiness. You have to consider someone else, what they may want or need, which doesn’t lend itself to finding one’s own nirvana.
But, having been married for over 30 years – from my perspective – making and keeping a commitment brings its own joy and satisfaction.
Not exactly nirvana all the time, but close enough.