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The Two Faces of Commitment: (1) Personal dedication refers to the promise and actions to fulfil your promise to maintain and improve your relationship

Pre-marriage programs, inventory workshops and enhance programs for married couples consider the true meaning and purpose of commitment.

With this in mind, the research on commitment by Dr Scott Stanley is an excellent area to cover with couples preparing for, or enriching marriage (for further reading refer to Dr Stanley’s publications “12 Hours to a Great Marriage” and the “Power of Commitment”).

Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner and we need to stay deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account. 

Dr Scott Stanley speaks of two faces of commitment:

  1. Personal dedication; and
  2. Constraint commitment

Personal dedication refers to the promise and actions to fulfil your promise to maintain and improve a relationship for the mutual benefit and satisfaction for both parties. It goes well beyond simply being there in the relationship but actively:

  • Doing what it takes to increase its quality;
  • Investing in and sacrificing for it;
  • Linking it to personal goals; and
  • Seeking to improve your own welfare and that of your partner.

An example: Mary is sure she is dedicated and committed to the company she works for, she enjoys the people, believes in the company values and is treated well and is respected. Mary puts in energy and enthusiasm by turning up early and giving it her all, often going beyond what is required by her. She really enjoys her work.

I believe we can expect great things in our relationships when commitment, love and skill work together. Sure, there are times in our lives when we have to concentrate on some of these areas specifically or seek support to help us overcome challenges but with support and understanding, we can all enjoy the blessings of a strong and committed partnership.

Tune in for part 2 next week on Constraint Commitment.

I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me directly on (02) 4979 1370 or

by Robyn Donnelly
Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

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