Being the best partner Uncategorized — 04 December 2012
The formula for commitment within marriage

Most couples begin their relationship with an enthusiastic commitment to each other’s happiness and wellbeing. With time, many pairs lose their way in maintaining this mutually pleasing emphasis and often allow their partnership to deteriorate and sometimes even fail. How can you develop a formula that will ensure your solid commitment to your mate for life?

Commitment to a relationship is not only a framework for monogamy but also an emotional and behavioral guiding principle for a healthy and mutually satisfying life-long relationship.

In “Bases of giving benefits in marriage”, Margaret Clark, Steven Graham and Nancy Grote list four prototypes for couples interactive norms: Equality, Equity, Exchange and Communal.

The Equality formula suggests that, “Each person should get the same number of benefits from the relationship.” Equity proposes, “What you get compared to what you give should equal what your partner gets compared to what he/she gives.”

The Exchange model states, “After receiving a benefit, a member should feel obligated to give the other a benefit of comparable value.” The Communal option suggests, “Partners should respond to each other’s need and should not owe any particular benefit in return.”

The first three categories list prototypes that attempt to numerically balance the giving, while the last addresses the absence of obligation to reciprocate to the spouse in kind.

The researchers’ findings indicate, “People believe that the ideal norm of giving and receiving benefits in marriage is the Communal formula. That is, each member should be concerned about the welfare of his/her spouse.”

Couples who adopt the first three methods often end up spending time and energy comparing their efforts to the spouse’s. This competitiveness is emotionally destructive and renders both mates hurt and unappreciated. Even attempting to equalize the contributions as “owed” or “not owed” is akin to managing finances that may leave one partner indebted and the other shortchanged. The formula of indebtedness ratio appears to be a mathematical effort to equalize contributions that is likely to cause more harm than harmony.

The ideal focus in marriage should be the natural loving desire to help, please and facilitate the partner’s life. This heartfelt approach requires no comparisons, weighing, measuring, arguing, belittling, expecting or demanding any entitlements. The attentive consideration of the partner evokes the mate’s appreciation that is likely to propel the reciprocal desire to nurture. This cycle of mutual caring springs from the loving intent to enable the beloved have the best life possible. When both mates concentrate on pleasing each other, their intimacy deepens.

Strengthen your commitment within your marriage:

  • Realize that fidelity in marriage is much greater than monogamy.
  • Accept that expectations, comparisons and quantifying giving and receiving in marriage are destructive to your union.
  • Understand that fairness and equality are not the proper methods of fostering a healthy, balanced relationship.
  • Focus solely on pleasing and easing your mate’s life as your basic commitment to your beloved. It will prevent competition and evoke reciprocal love and harmony.



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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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