Committing Your Heart: please share your wisdom

holding hands

There’s this couple I know who’s going through a rough time. I love them dearly, and more importantly, they love each other – they have for years. They are one of the best, cutest teams I know.

But right now, there’s heartbreak. One half of this couple looks forward to a future of happiness together, and the other has trouble picturing it, and is unable to use the precedent of happiness to take that leap and say, “I believe in us, and while I know there are no guarantees, I’m going to bet on our success.” The lack of certainty and synchrony is putting cracks in a practically seamless relationship.

It has made me think back over the history I share with Sean. When we got together, he had never had a truly serious, committed adult relationship. In fact, he was confident that he would never marry, never have children. (What a travesty THAT would have been!)

When we decided to be a couple, we knew it was the real deal. Neither of us would have taken the leap to change a high-quality friendship without knowing it was worth the risk. We discussed our long-term future from the start, and almost took it for granted.

Even so, we came very close to breaking up at least twice, because that was Sean’s modus operandi. He was not accustomed to long-term commitment; frankly, he was used to breaking up with girls. Staying together more than a few months was uncharted territory, so he instinctively reached for sabotage. I don’t think it was fully conscious, it was mostly knee-jerk, but it almost succeeded.

Thankfully, it didn’t. When it came right down to it, we loved each other. We didn’t want to break up – we both would have hated that. So we wanted to be together, obviously.


I guess it’s not always as simple as that.

Now I have a humble request. If you are in a committed relationship, I hope you might take a moment to think back and offer some insight in the comment section. How did you know you were ready to commit to your significant other? How long did it take you to be sure? How long had you been together? Were there specific signs? Was it sudden or gradual? Did you have fears about it that you had to overcome, and if you did, how did you manage?

Thank you in advance for any wisdom you can offer on the topic.


12 thoughts on “Committing Your Heart: please share your wisdom

  1. Melissa says:

    Oh my… what big questions… and yet I felt compelled to answer.

    I guess I knew I was ready to commit when I couldn’t imagine a future without him, but to BE SURE of this, and to be comfortable with it, that took a lot longer… probably years, actually, until we were both in a position where we could conceivably settle down (done school, looking for jobs). Only then did I have the confidence in myself to be able to make such a big decision.

    We have been married now for going on 7 years and together for almost 14.

    The “knowing” we were meant to be was gradual…

    As for fears, I had them then and I have them now. Even though I can’t imagine not being with him, there are always fears about losing the spark (or re-igniting it, as sometimes we do lose sight of “us”). There are fears that our little life will get “boring” to him or I, or that one of us will forget how it used to be. Even with those fears though, I have the blind faith that we can overcome anything. 🙂

    • diblog says:

      Thank you for writing, Melissa. I think we all have those fears about losing the spark… I try to just assume there will be not-so-sparky times, and then keep in mind that sometimes we have to make time to work on the quality of the relationship. Especially with young children, I know what you mean about losing sight of “us”.

  2. Penn says:

    Knowing that Heather is as important to me as I am allows me to compromise easily. Making her happy makes me happy too.
    On the other hand, you can’t live entirely through someone else, balance is necessary.
    I don’t know what the exact balance is for others, but our works for us.

    • diblog says:

      Thank you for your perspective, Penn – especially since you’re the lone guy to comment so far. You hit the nail on the head – I know it’s not that simple, but it does sound pretty simple when you put it this way. I think one of the ways you know you love somebody is when you find yourself wanting to make sacrifices (or compromises, of course) for their happiness.

  3. Julianne says:

    I have been married for 2.5 years but with my husband for almost 10. He proposed X-Mas Eve at midnight in 2004 though we didn’t get married for almost 5 years after that. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, many times we weren’t sure if we would last. I pretty much pressured him into going through with it after news of a friends engagement and told him if he wasn’t ready to marry me after being with me for 6 years then he would never be ready.

    After the wedding, I learned things that, had I known before, I would not have tolerated. However, we took our vows: when our love is easy and when it seems an effort seriously, so we stuck it out. The first 2 years of our marriage were rocky (whoever says that marriage is just a piece of paper is full of hooey).

    I strongly believe that we needed to go through those struggles to really and truly be able to appreciate each other. Now I can say that we are best friends and a team, have more respect for one another and that our love and commitment are the strongest they’ve ever been. I guess it’s true, distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

    • diblog says:

      Wow, Julianne, thank you for your insight. I’m sorry it’s been so rocky, but I’m so glad you stuck it out and re-found your best friend and team-mate. I think a lot of people could learn from your words – marriage does take effort and real communication. Although there are couples who are definitely better off apart, I’m sure there are many others out there who have missed out on real happiness by giving up too soon when the going got tough.

  4. Me says:

    Well, I can tell you, but I’m not sure it will be helpful in this situation. We had our first date on June 5. I was set to leave with my family for my cousin’s June 18 wedding shortly afterward. The night before I left, he said, “I think I love you.” After my cousin’s wedding the family were all sitting around talking, as they do at such times, and my grandmother asked me how my love life was doing, and I described my brand-new sweetie and how things had happened pretty quickly in the week-and-a-half since our first date, and she said, “Well, I think you’re going to marry that fellow.” (Oh, yes – and before that first date, a mutual friend advised me: “Go out with him! Marry him!”) So… I went back home, we continued to date, and ten months later he asked me to marry him. It was a formality, because we both already knew This was IT and had talked about it. But it was a nice formality: he got down on his knees to propose. It hadn’t taken us long to feel sure we wanted a permanent commitment, but there were a few things to work through (previous partners, for example, and where to live…) I don’t remember specific signs, unless it was that we were both pretty inspired to write poetry and long letters to each other (though we lived in the same city.) I don’t remember any fears about the commitment, though there were certainly uncertainties in our future. I guess you’d have to say it was closer to sudden than gradual. We were married on the first anniversary of our first date. This June we’ll have been married 45 years.

    • diblog says:

      Y’all do make the commitment part seem easy… but I know for a fact that you’ve been through plenty of tough times and stuck by each other even when it was really hard. I’m glad you’re around to be an example for the rest of us – not just of love, but of resolve.

  5. Tova says:

    Craig and I have been married for 13 years and together for 18. Our path is different, as everyone’s is. We have ups, we have definite downs.

    But the best insight I can give is a piece of advice that we got from his great Uncle Gerry at the celebration of his 60th wedding anniversary to Aunt Isobel. What he said is that you have to get up every morning and CHOOSE to be married to that person. The fun, hart warming part of a marriage is easy. It is choosing them, even when you are struggling, that is what keeps it together.

    I have found that really is a choice. And if you are not willing to re-commit to that choice everyday, no matter what, then there is nothing you can do to make it through. Life will throw you all kinds of crappy moments and challenges. And for many it is the simple thing to leave, but making that sometime tough choice keeps you together.

    All that being said, I have found there was a real rough patch around 6 to 8 years together. I didn’t know if we would make it, but as we are together longer and longer, it is getting easier to choose him, each and every day.

    • diblog says:

      Tova, thank you for your wisdom. This makes so much sense, and I wish everyone could read it. Of course I would never encourage someone to stay in an unhealthy relationship/marriage, but it does seem that some, as you say, just find it’s the simpler thing to leave when things get hard. I’m going to remember that idea of CHOOSING to re-commit – and use it!

  6. Carrie says:

    My story is much Like Melissa’s. It was definetely gradual before I “KNEW”. In fact, I was seriously scared and kept begging God for a “sign” that I was doing the right thing marrying my AMAZING Husband. I remember asking my mom how she ‘knew’ and one comment that sticks out in my mind is “I love him more today that I did when we got married.” I used to think “how can that be so? Shouldn’t you LOVE someone all the way to marry them?”

    Now 8 married years later (11 together years), I KNOW that he is the man for me. I love him with all my heart. AND I completely understand what my mom meant: our love gets deeper every day. I STILL marvel at the new things I learn about my Hubby! Marriage and love is something that will continue to grow over time.

    One Thought that perpetually goes through my mind is that I truly beleive there is NO ONE else out there that will ‘put up with me’, or love me the way he does. And by ‘putting up with me’ I mean my worst moments, or the “private me” as opposed to the “public me” that most people see. (that’s not to say I’m not myself in public, but the “private” me is sometimes a little deeper, if you know what I mean!)

    Ask yourself that question of your partner sometime.

    Having been So scared and uncertain at proposal time, and indeed through the entire engagement (and possibly even the first year or two of marriage!) my advice for your friends: TAKE THE LEAP!! 8 years later you’ll thank God you did!

    • diblog says:

      Carrie, this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing. It’s good to be reminded that you can be totally scared but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. It just means you’re using consideration and caution. And BTW you are such an amazing person… whatever your “worst moments” are, I’m sure you are well worth the “trouble”!

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