Commitment: What Are We Committing and To Whom?

Part Two in a Two Part Series

Last post we explored several important questions about commitment:

What is a Commitment?

      When we talk about love and commitment we are really talking about attaching to or connecting with people and things. When we are able to connect we feel joyful and content.

What Does It Mean to Make a Commitment?

      When we make a commitment to another person we are making the agreement to be present and available … physically, mentally and emotionally.   

What is Accountability?
      Being held accountable means we accept responsibility for the results of our choices, decisions and behaviors instead of blaming others or external factors.

Why Are Some Couples Successful Making Commitments and Agreements
?
      Couples who have clarified their own personal values, and individual and couple visions and purpose have a stronger foundation from which to commit to their agreements and achieve more consistent and satisfying results.

This week I want to focus on crafting elegant agreements that accurately reflect the nature and structure of a couple’s unique relationship and serve to inform the foundation of their commitments.

Life is an ongoing process of creating agreements with others. An effective agreement means more than getting another person to do what you want. It means buy-in and true commitment from both people.

Most couples have hopes and dreams, and desires and expectations. They establish goals and make commitments that are developed from a joint visioning process; a process that expresses an inclusive vision of desired outcomes; their road map to success!

Another way to look at this is that we join forces with others by forming agreements. Agreements are expressed in writing or verbally during very intentional conversations. Most of us have never learned how to craft effective, explicit agreements. It is a skill we were never taught, even though it is fundamental to all relationships and a basic life skill.

While this is a method offered for committed partners, any two or more people who wish to make agreements can easily adapt it. So here goes!

Here is a straightforward 15-step method you can use to craft elegant and effective agreements:

   1. Create and clearly articulate your joint vision with as much rich detail as possible. Be sure that both of you participate with eagerness and passion;

   2. Be sure that both of you are creating the agreement with intention and with a belief that you are well served making and honoring the agreement;

   3. Make a list of each person’s strengths, gifts, skills and talents that are available to be drawn on by each of you.

   4. Identify, with as much detail as possible, all the aspects of what it is you are coming to agreement about. A joint plan works best when you are both working toward the same joint vision;

   5. Be certain that each of you understands and acknowledges the actions (behaviors), attitudes, and responsibilities that are associated with the agreement for yourself and your partner;

   6. Decide together if the actions and attitudes are sufficient to result in the desired outcome(s). If they are not, identify what additional actions and attitudes must be included and by whom;

   7. All agreements must have specific time deadlines for each part of the agreement to be completed or finalized. These are “by whens”—by when will you do this, and by when will you do that. In addition, the time period the agreement will be in force must be specified.

   8. Does the agreement as a whole and do all the parts of the agreement forward the joint vision?

   9. Clearly identify the evidence or positive outcome(s) that you expect to result for each person from making and honoring the agreement;

  10. Does the agreement as a whole and do all the parts of the agreement truly satisfy each person and result in each person being whole? Being whole refers to being sure that neither person experiences a loss or losses as a result of pledging their time, attention and commitment to the agreement;

  11. Bring all your concerns and fears to this discussion. This can often minimize the disagreements that may occur during the process of crafting the agreement. This discussion will deepen your commitment to the agreement and to your partner or reveal a problem that might already be brewing in the relationship.

  12. No matter how optimistic and clear you both are when you craft an agreement, one or both of you will likely come back to the table and ask for the agreement to be renegotiated or changed in some way at some time. This is not a personal failure or a failure of the process! This is an expected, anticipated part of crafting and honoring agreements!

  13. It is critical to include a mechanism that will take into consideration the many changes that normally and naturally occur over time in a couple’s relationship. Being realistic about this at the beginning enables the relationship to evolve and prosper. It is imperative to provide each person with a way to accommodate change — an exit strategy you can both follow with dignity. Anyone who feels imprisoned in an agreement, commitment or relationship will not be his or her best self or offer all possible personal contributions to forward the joint vision.

  14. It is inevitable for conflicts and disagreements to arise, and perhaps, one of you will not honor the agreement. Establish an attitude of good will and good intention and a plan to repair hurt feelings and disappointments;

  15. Both people must be responsible to ensure that the agreement is honored;
      Unless and until you are satisfied, do not move into action. Do not agree. Be sure each person is satisfied, ready to take action, and that outcome will be worth it and the joint vision becomes more of a reality.

 

Now that you have a solid model for crafting elegant agreements your work is to decide what you want to agree and commit to and to whom. This work starts by becoming more and more aware of who you are, what you want, what you value, and how to get your needs met respectfully and responsibly. Review the Tips on vision, life purpose and values (May 04, 2003), making and keeping commitments (May 25, 2003), setting boundaries (July 13 & 20, 2003) and resolving conflict (July 27, 2003).

Ask yourself:

  • Are you a committed couple who is strengthening your bond and deepening your intimacy and trust day-by-day and year-by-year?
  • Are you engaging in meaningful family and work relationships and friendships, and asking for what you want, saying your real yes and your real no and hearing others who may be asking you for something?
  • Are you crafting agreements consciously and with intention?
  • Do you expect others to honor their agreements and commitments and do you intend to honor yours?

One of the best books I have ever read, written by an extraordinary couple for extraordinary couples, is Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment. Drs. Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks wrote this timeless book and they talk frankly about what it takes to create co-committed relationships complete with exercises to guide couples who are courageous enough to be on the sacred journey of committed coupleship together.

Whether you are a committed couple or an amazing singleton, as they call it in the UK, let’s educate ourselves about agreements, commitments, boundaries, conflict, and fidelity. Let’s start risking being our deepest most magnificent selves! Join me and let’s start today!

Until next time remember…

Only YOU can make it Happen!

 

Dr Jackie Black Newsletter


Hello. I am Dr. Jackie Black, your Couples in Trouble Expert. Since 1999, I have guided many formerly frustrated and desperately unhappy Couples in Trouble to happiness, closeness and having more fun together than they ever imagined. My years of experience combined with your commitment to your personal growth will enable you to welcome the results you have always wanted and never believed were possible in your marriage.

Learn more at DrJackieBlack.com