Let’s talk commitment, shall we?

More specifically, relationship commitment.

I really should save this post for next month, but meh.

I like now.

Why next month? The ‘why’ is coming…

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’d already know that “commitment” wasn’t really something practiced by my family…namely my dad…who decided another family/woman/person other than his blood were more important than, well, us – his family.

I grew up almost expecting guys to cheat on me…I thought that’s just what happened…that’s just how it went: I bend over backwards and he takes advantage of me.

Obviously, that is not at all how a relationship is supposed to work. It took me a long,Β long time to develop enough faith and belief in “the other person” to trust them and not be suspicious if they were late or didn’t call or what have you.

To this day, the only “other person” I have ever trusted implicitly is Tim. Granted, it didn’t start out that way…it started out completely the opposite. It started the same way it always had in the past: I didn’t trust him farther than I could throw him – and that wasn’t very far. At all.

It took years – YEARS – of him having to prove himself (for lack of a better phrase) to me. I really can’t even imagine how that must have felt for him…I was too wrapped up in my own insecurities to even notice how my non-trusting attitude affected him. It did get better, though. I learned to trust him. I learned to not “assume the worst.”

Once that happened? I was free! I felt like I was flying. I felt more freedom than I ever have in a relationship. I don’t really know why it feels like freedom when, really, you’re letting the other person free…out of their trust cage…but that’s exactly the sensation.

And it was wonderful.

Then, like the cruel joke life is sometimes, I soon realized that fully trusting another person is just step one in a myriad of phases that never seem to end.

Trust is just theΒ beginning of a long, winding road that takes you through more twists and turns than you’d think was reasonable. Once you learn to trust someone, that’s the easy part.

Where it gets difficult and tricky and muddied is with commitment.

It seems like trust and commitment go together, like peas and carrots, and they do, to a degree. What I’ve learned, though, is that you can trust anyone.

What you can’t do as easily is commit to that person. Committing to someone requires a hell of a lot more effort than trusting them. Commitment is an on-going, daily task that requires lots of work and time. When you slack off commitment, it slacks off on you. You slack off on each other. Everything just starts to go into autopilot and autopilot doesn’t allow you to see any of those twists in that road I was talking about earlier.


We’re all hit by a bus because no one was paying attention.

It’s at that point you realize you haven’t been practicing commitment like you should be and that realization usually stems from some kind of tiff or disagreement or full blown argument. It is so easy to slide into autopilot and just keep on living like you always do…taking the other person for granted and turning into a sour puss because you don’t feel like you’re getting what you want or need or both – all because you’ve been neglecting the thing that keeps you fulfilled: commitment.

One month, exactly, from today, marks Tim and my seven year “meet-a-versary” – which is really the beginning of our “dating” (waaay back) in 2004. I asked him if that date still counted, since it’s not like we officially became exclusive on that date…and he retorted, “Did you see anyone else after that?”

me: No…

Tim: Me either. So. Yes. It counts.

(He actually called and cancelled a previously scheduled date with some other chick after he and I went out for the first time…talk about timing. What if *I* had been the other girl who had the later scheduled date?)

I really can’t believe we’re coming up on seven years…so much has happened and so much has changed since then. We’ve grown together and figured out how to live with each other without killing the other person. We know how to deal with our faults and weird quirks. Though, personally, I think Tim is better at dealing with me than I am with him…even though I’m trying to improve…

Point is: we’re still learning how to be committed to one another each and every day. It’s not that we aren’t 100% on board with marriage and with the idea of FOREVER, it’s more like we have to navigate around obstacles that arise and learn how to best handle each one in a way that still keeps the other person in perspective. Sure, we could go off and just do it “our way” and say screw it…but that isn’t commitment. That isn’t what marriage is about.

The girl (me) who likes to compete in every.single.thing. in life is still learning that marriage isn’t a game where you keep score. Keeping score pulls you farther away from being committed and puts you into this box where you are still trying to be an individual in a relationship. I mean, yes, you’re always supposed to be yourself…stay individual…grow together…but what I am (unsuccessfully) trying to say is that if you’re always looking at your relationship – your commitment – as YOU versus HIM, then you aren’t really committed…are you?

The change in me is happening slowly – much unlike Tim, who seems to do a better job of staying present and thinking of us as the “whole” instead of the sum of its parts. I’m going to say his progression is because he has thirteen more years of life experience than me…or something like that.

Maybe I’m still trying to grow up.

Maybe it’s because I still have the daddy baggage.

Maybe it is something I don’t even see, yet.

But through all of those maybe’s, I have realized what it means to be committed and where I may be slacking off and not trying as hard as I should be. I see where I may need to make a course correction and I can see, usually in hindsight, where I was wrong and should have been the (first one) to apologize.

I think that probably counts for something.


23 Responses to “commitment”

  1. 1 Amy October 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I still mention (if not celebrate) my meetaversary, too….nine years earlier this month. For me, even though I hadn’t had a committed relationship since I was a freshman in college (that one & only relationship was baaaaaaaaaad), I knew immediately that the architect was the one. It took him a bit longer to realize it. Oh, we had glorious fights about it. Of course, it worked out in the end, but I do often wonder if our differences in attitude were a product of our very different upbringings: My parents married in 1973 & are still together, my paternal grandparents were married for almost 50 years before my grandfather died, and my maternal grandparents will celebrate 67 years on their next anniversary; almost all of my relatives & friends’ parents are still together. The architect’s parents divorced when he was 6, they each remarried someone else (and those someone elses were AWFUL) and then divorced again. His first fiancee cheated on him & dumped him (by running out in the middle of the night), and he expected relationships to suck. It’s no wonder that we approached the thought of relationships differently, right?

    ANYWAYS – enough of my back story. Way to move past the baggage – that’s a remarkable thing to be able to do! And congrats on 7 years of togetherness! (That’s also a remarkable achievement!) Best wishes for many, many more!

    • 2 Jessica October 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

      Yay on nine years!! That’ awesome! I love how you call him the architect. I should call mine…I have no idea. Something creative…

      I’m lucky in that my parents never remarried…though my dad seems to go through girlfriend after girlfriend after girlfriend….*sigh*

      I really do think the example you had set by your parents changes how you view relationships…at least in the beginning. And Tim’s upbringing sounds a lot like yours…mine…like the architects.

  2. 3 Cindy October 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Your depth of perspective speaks volumes about you and your character (I don’t mean Tim- ha!). Keep drawing on that and you will reap the benefits of a committed marriage, which I see as many and wonderful. Your “baggage” (which we all have somewhere, just in different areas/forms) will prove to be less and less influential and important if you continue to look past it to what really matters. Nice post! And congratulations to you and Tim for 7 years! πŸ™‚

    • 4 jobo October 21, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Totally agree with CIndy! Depth of perspective here is huge. So happy for you guys, you truly are meant to be…happy almost meet-o-versary πŸ™‚ And I LOVE that wedding pic!!!

      • 5 Jessica October 21, 2011 at 8:36 am

        Thank you both! πŸ™‚

        Sometimes I can go deeper into the cerebellum…sometimes. And I totally agree – baggage does become less influential over time. It is just crazy how slowly it dissipates…

        (and Cindy…sometimes…Tim finds that deep perspective…what is it he has always said about a blind squirrel getting a nut every now and then? πŸ™‚ )

        • 6 Cindy October 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm

          LOL! Although in my post I meant Tim isn’t the character I was referring to… it was your character. Was supposed to be funny. πŸ™‚

  3. 7 Anonymous October 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    That was beautiful write a book

  4. 8 Papa Guy October 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    We got married in a fever….Hotter than a pepper sprout… 1976.
    Beautiful picture….
    It’s a day by day thing sweetie.
    daddy baggage…..I think I carry that around on my ass.

  5. 10 Joann October 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

    We all bring some sort of baggage into our relationships and it’s how we continue to grow in the true relationships that we have. Of course that means that we are choosing not to allow that baggage to constantly interfere with our growth. Even after almost 20 years it’s hard. You just keep going, eyes wide open. There are moments when you are tired and it becomes harder to do, but you’ve done it so far and it sounds like you have what it takes to keep doing it!!

    • 11 Jessica October 21, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Keeping your eyes open is difficult sometimes…because it’s easier to ignore things than it is to deal with them, even though dealing with them is what makes you both grow…

      I know it will always be hard…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun and enjoyable at the same time…most of the time, anyway πŸ™‚

  6. 12 PJ October 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I totally agree that our attitudes and the way we approach relationships are the result of our upbringings and the examples that we had.

    Congrats on getting to the point where you can see where you need to change. It’s a tough point to grapple with and come to.

    • 13 Jessica October 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

      It is hard enough to ADMIT to it…because, obviously, I’m perfect in my brain… πŸ™‚ But, still, I’m trying to be the adult, here, so….perfection is no longer the goal.

  7. 14 JessSutera October 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

    What this shows me and confirms for me is that (as I’ve always believed) marriage is hard work. A shitton of work. But it’s worth it work. Committing and trusting someone else as wholly and fully as you need to in a marriage takes total vigilance, because like you said, it can easily slip into autopilot mode which can be so so so dangerous to even the strongest of relationships. Excellent post. You are so wise. πŸ™‚

  8. 16 lifestartsnow October 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    i love this post!

    relationships are work and marriage is even more so. it’s healthy to be reminded of that when you’re living in bliss.

  9. 18 Txtingmrdarcy October 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This is beautifully written. And I loooove the wedding picture at the end.

    For starters, the further you talk about your sperm donor, the more that I’m convinced that mine had a second family in Georgia and that we should do a Lifetime Movie.

    The timing in this post was really great for me personally, because just last night we were discussing Thanksgiving dinner, and whether we want to keep it small this year due to post-wedding exhaustion, or to hold the big family shindig that we usually do. My parents mentioned something along the lines of “we’ll see if your cousins will bring their current significant others, or if they’ll still be with so-and-so…”

    And I realized that I’ll never have the question of whether to have a date to family events again. I’ll have my husband. It’s awesome.

    • 19 Jessica October 22, 2011 at 8:27 am

      Let’s contact Lifetime. I’m sure they’d bite.

      And…YES! Isn’t it the craziest realization when it hits you…”I HAVE A PERMANENT DATE! FOR EVERYTHING!”

      It makes life so.much.easier.

  10. 20 backstripe October 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    We got married 22 years ago. We were both in our mid 30’s and were tired of our baggage. We left it behind.

    I think we saved each other’s lives.

    You’ll never stop learning.

  11. 22 bevchen October 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    What a great post. Relationships need work, and marriage (I imagine) even more so. Well done to both of you for working sooo hard. And it sounds to me like you ARE committed.

    I’ve been with my boyfriend 7 and a half years now, and I don’t think he’s ever going to commit. He says he doesn’t know what he wants. I say that’s because he hasn’t found it (or rather, her) yet.

    • 23 Jessica October 22, 2011 at 8:28 am

      You need to tell that boyfriend of yours…to…um…make up his mind? I mean, I applaud you – seven and a half years. Tell him that he’s lost his opportunity to get an “itch” and just make it official already!

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