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Love & Commitment - is it just not cheating?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

I recently asked a bride and groom who were meeting with me in preparation for me performing their Jewish wedding ceremony, what commitment meant to them. They said that for them it meant not cheating on each other. I explained that certainly, that’s a big part of it. I also shared that at its core, love is a decision to be committed to another person. It is far more than a fleeting emotion as portrayed on television, the big screen, and romance novels. Feelings come and go, but a true decision to be committed lasts forever—and that is what defines healthy marriages.

Marriage is a decision to be committed through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad. When things are going well, commitment is easy. But true love is displayed by remaining committed even through the trials of life.

Having commitment means being dedicated to a cause. Commitment comes in all different shapes and sizes, but the most important type of commitment, for many, is commitment to your marriage. Often couples start their marriage with commitment, but they don’t realize commitment takes continual time, energy, thought, and action. Here are three types of commitment and how to strengthen your marital commitment.

Dr. Michael Johnson, a Sociology professor at Penn State University, has studied commitment and has developed three different types of commitment. These three types: personal, moral, and structural commitment, can give you balance and dedication in your relationship (Temple, 2003).

* Personal Commitment is also known as “I Want To” (Temple, 2003). If you have personal commitment, you may find yourself thinking, “I want to stay in my marriage.” You may feel pleasure or joy from things you have personal commitment for.

* Moral Commitment is also known as “I Ought To” (Temple, 2003). Moral commitment means being committed because you believe it is the right thing to do. This may include staying in a marriage because of a certain set of values or beliefs. You may say, “I made a commitment before God and I should keep my commitment” (Temple, 2003).

* Structural Commitment is also known as “I Have To” (Temple, 2003). If you have structural commitment, you would find yourself thinking of staying in the marriage for your kids, it costs too much to get divorced, or staying together because you might worry about what others think of you.

While all three types of commitment may be present at times in many marriages, personal commitment, or I want to commitment is what makes a solid foundation in marriages. Since commitment is an ongoing process, it is important to think about and work on your relationship and commitment often.

The bride and groom really appreciated that with me, it’s not just about a 30 minute ceremony. I also explore love and marriage to help wedding couples be set up for a long lasting and fulfilling marriage. This is my mission as a cantor who performs weddings for Jewish couples.

References * Temple, M. (2003). Strengthening Marital Commitment. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from engthening-yourmarriage/commitment/strengthening-maritalcommitment * Goddard, H. W. & Marshall, J. (2010). The Marriage Garden: Commitment Make and Honor Promisest. University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension.

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