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Commitment. . . .

Is marriage different?

Living together versus marriage.....Does marriage still matter ?    


Does marriage still matter? Is marriage different? These two questions are increasingly being asked by people who are in intimate relationships. Today, children of the baby boomer's are delaying marriage until well into their 30's.


The delay is primarily for financial reasons whereby people are preferring to purchase property and pursue a career before deciding to settle down. Another common reason is the fear of being stuck in a relationship where they cannot easily extract themselves should they become dissatisfied and unhappy. 


 "Relationship commitment is increasingly linked to our quality of life."

Unlike earlier generations relationships now compete with other personal life ambitions. Whilst commitment within a relationship remains important, relationships themselves often come in at third or fourth place on the priority list.


Interestingly recent research has found that committed and stable relationships are linked to an increase in personal happiness and general well-being in one's life.

Case Study:

The following example illustrates such relationship dilemmas faced by the thirty something generation: Paul* is a 36 year old man employed in middle management with a national company based in Melbourne.


Paul subscribes to this way of thinking and recently spoke about why he recently ended a two-and-a-half year relationship... "She was really nice, there was nothing really wrong with the relationship, I know she really wanted more, but it just didn't do it for me anymore."

"His relationship was no longer exciting and passionate."

Paul's primary reason for ending his relationship was that

1. It was no longer exciting and passionate

2. It had become mundane and routine.



He was also dissatisfied with his employment where his current work project was not holding his interest. Recently he had received an offer to manage a project in China. He expressed an interest in the China project despite there being no real financial or career gain.
Paul stated that

"Shifting to China won't be really exciting because I live on site, be available 24/7

and there's an 18 month deadline to the project.


I know some people who work there so I won't be amongst strangers.

I should earn enough to buy a house when I return.

Anyway, I might meet someone who I click with and end-up living overseas."

Paul's decision to end his relationship is not an uncommon practice by men today. Many relationship counsellors agree that women living in de facto relationships are expecting the relationship to be lasting, with the possibility of marriage. Women in these relationships may need to reconsider their plans for the future.




As the Relationship starts:


"A women's commitment is usually about remaining together through the good times and the bad times."

Generally when couples get together, they rarely spend time discussing what their understanding and experience of what commitment is. All too frequently, commitment is a word that is used with little understanding of the long-term implications.


Couples may end-up living together due to a change in circumstances, for example financial, rather than with the intent to form a committed and intimate relationship.
Men and women have a different understanding of the concept of commitment within their intimate relationships. It would seem that when a man lives with a woman, he does so with a form of commitment that is closer to maybe I'll do it while it is good and how I want it to be; while a woman's commitment is generally about remaining together through both the good times and bad times.
How this difference occurs is primarily due to how people learn their social roles of being male or female. This occurs through learning one's gender from highly complex socio-psychological processes throughout a person's life. For example defined roles for men dictate that they should act with caution and humour when the word marriage enters into discussions with any person, especially so with other men.
How is it different for Men?


Men may consider a relationship as a trap laid by women and that once married, the word wife becomes another four letter word. A recent example (August, 2005) used by a major Australian internet service provider had the following sentence displayed on its home page, "A man is not complete until he is married. And then he is finished." Although this was most likely written in humour with no harm intended, these types of jokes saturate men's lives to the point whereby men have begun to believe that there must be some truth contained within them.


 "Men bring these misconceptions and false beliefs into their intimate relationships."

To add to the legitimacy of this information regarding relationships, men do not challenge each other on the messages commonly found within male humour. Indeed it is not uncommon for women to also participate in such humour, thus confirming to men the truth in the humour.


Consequently men bring these misconceptions and false beliefs into their intimate relationships.
There is hope. Increasingly more and more men are creating change through challenging traditional notions and prescriptions of manhood. Men achieve this initially through gaining an awareness of their underlying values and how these have influenced their behaviour. This is followed by a shift in their behaviour and beliefs to one that is based on respect and love of their partner and children.
How can Marriage Counselling Help?


Rarely does this shift occur in isolation, human behaviour is far too complex to learn about and understand without the support of others. Marriage counselling and relationship counselling is a place where men can openly and safely discuss, feel and express their thoughts and emotions with their partner. This process engenders positive growth and development in the relationship.
Often through marriage counselling, men gain a new understanding of what commitment really means and its value to their life.


Finally, it is not uncommon for these men to become advocates of committed relationships with many having conversations with other men about the short-sightedness of their fear of commitment.





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