By: Loree Bischoff
I was recently asked this question: What if you’re itching to go to the next level of your relationship but your partner is happy with the way things are?
Don’t roll your eyes at this age-old answer, but Communication is key! The commitment issue does not have to be a scary one. Follow these steps to make it simple, honest, and enlightening:
Step 1 – Communicate with yourself
Ask yourself why you aren’t satisfied with the way things currently are. There are many reasons why you might want more commitment from your partner. Many of us view relationships as a series of natural leaps; for example, from dating to being exclusive, from being exclusive to living together, from living together to becoming engaged, and from engagement to marriage. Sometimes we just feel like we should move to the next stage to keep up with the status quo.
Or you might be afraid of losing your partner, and you feel that getting them to make a commitment will increase the chances they will stay with you.
No matter what age you are, if having children is very important to you, you may feel compelled to accelerate the natural relationship timeline when you meet someone who fits the bill as parent to your children.
If you and your partner are having some problems, you might feel that a stronger commitment will help. (If you talk to yourself honestly about this, you’ll probably realize that existing problems are more likely to be compounded by further commitment than to be resolved.)
Of course, the best reason to want more commitment is because you truly feel that your partner is the love of your life.
Step 2 – What does commitment mean to you?
Before you open the commitment discussion, be clear about what you envision for the next step in the relationship. If you’re thinking it would be fun to live together and see how things go, but to your partner that sounds like wedding bells, that’s a big gap in communication that needs to be clarified.
Step 3 – Why is your partner commitment-shy?
If you’ve only been together a short while, your partner might be commitment-shy because they take being in a committed relationship very seriously and are not willing to go there until they feel confident that they’re 100 percent ready. Or you may have to face the truth that they’re just not interested in a more serious relationship with you. It’s ok to want to find out; by bringing up the topic, you will at least know if your partner is ready for this discussion or not, and you can make a better-informed decision about what to do next.
If you’ve been together for a long time and feel you’ve hit a plateau, but your partner isn’t showing signs of taking the next step, it’s likely that communication between you is not as open as it should be – continue to the next steps.
Step 4 – Open up communications
Often people are afraid to be honest with their partner because they fear their reaction. If you’re honest and it’s not what your partner wants to hear, there may be arguing, tears, disappointment, or guilt trips. You may fear that your partner will invalidate your feelings by telling you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Or your partner may tell you that your expectations are unfair (the it’s-all-about-me perspective). Rather than deal with any of these outcomes, many people stay on cruise control because they can’t see a way to navigate through the issue without hurting themselves or their partner.
The best way is to start boldly by sharing what you envision for the relationship. Find the strength to be honest about your feelings and the direction you hope to move in. You won’t be able to move in that direction until you say it out loud, and being stuck is not healthy for either of you.
Step 5 – Listen to your partner
Now ask your partner to be honest with you. Tell them that you’d rather hear the truth, even though it may be disappointing, than to remain in the dark wondering why you’re ready for the next step but your partner is not.
Let your partner talk about what they envision for the relationship, assuring them they don’t have to fear a negative response from you if they have a different vision of the timeline.
Remember to truly listen without interrupting. If there are pregnant pauses, let them be. Give your partner time to think about what they want to say. Then if there’s something you don’t understand, repeat it back to them in your own words, with no judgments, until you understand each other.
Step 6 – Acceptance
Once you have open and honest communication, you will be able to accept the feelings and perspective of your partner more easily. Give them the understanding and respect that you would want if you were the commitment-shy one. Be willing to accept the truth with grace, even if it’s not really what you wanted to hear.
Step 7 – Moving on
Now you have a better understanding of your partner’s needs. If your visions and goals are not in alignment with your partner’s, you may need to consider that this person is not the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.
But it may just be that your new understanding open doors for you and your partner to align your visions and goals together.
Now you can move on, whether it’s to a new relationship or to a better understanding of the one you have. Taking the time to work through these seven steps might even lead to an exciting, life-long commitment!
About Loree Bischoff:
Loree Bischoff received her Life Coach Certification from the award-winning, nationally accredited Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Arizona. She has been married to the same amazing man since 1984 and they have two wonderful (now all-grown-up) children. Loree spends her time with family, coaching, learning, staying healthy and fit, commuting between Arizona, California and Wyoming and just overall enjoying the fantastic adventure of life.
Visit http://www.loreebischoff.com for more information