This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

divorce

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 120 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and totally we’ll be taking a look at a very reflective question about commitment in relationships and how, frankly, it’s changed over the years. We’ll explore this change and see if we can come up with a universal constant for reliable commitment in relationships. But first, let’s hear what this listener has on her mind…

QUESTION: “I am one of many divorced people living in the United States. Over the years, I’ve watched each generation become worse at commitment, and it makes me ashamed, but I too was in a marriage that failed. Commitment doesn’t mean what it used to mean if it still means anything at all. Shouldn’t couples that make a commitment to one another work harder to stay together?


Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 120 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


Commitment and Generational Differences

How ironic – this is a discussion I was having with my Dad recently. He is, like you, one of the many divorcees from a past generation wondering what on earth is going on and how the seemingly bulletproof model of family life set forth in the 50s has managed to fail 53% of marriages.

It was a good discussion and one I’m really happy to have here again.

Social Norms and Traditions

If you think back to commitment a few generations ago when you and my Dad were getting married…not to each other, that is. I don’t think so, anyway. Mom? But when your age group was getting married, the commitment was really just about carrying on a tradition more than anything.

Back then, people got married and had kids thoughtlessly – those who didn’t were outsiders. It was just what you did once you found someone tolerable, because at the time, it was better to be seen as married to someone than not married at all. Women were under particular pressure to do this because marriage also equaled financial stability, as at the time, women were not working as much.

And realistically, the same approach was taken with friends, places, even jobs and items.

How many friends did people used to keep that they really didn’t like that much? How many people never left their hometown and now complain about never getting out?

How many jobs did people try to make lifetime careers out of even if they were miserable and unfulfilling? How many items did people keep around that go no attention whatsoever?

Commitment and Change

My parents are very guilty of this last one: a typical Italian household would often have the TV in one room, and the living room be something totally separate with furniture you couldn’t sit on and artifacts you couldn’t touch.

Same could be said of dining room tables that only get action on the major holidays. For what? It’s nonsense. Just unused space and paraphernalia to pay taxes on.

A quick history lesson, though: apparently this type of thing became commonplace after the great depression. Once families recovered enough to be able to buy some things just for pleasure, those things were kept separate and were really just bought to be celebrations of wealth rather than actually used.

What a stupid thing to do. Anyway, I digress.

None of these forms of commitment to people, places or things ever took into consideration the various ways that the people committing to them could change.

And frankly, not many people believed they would or would want to change anyway, because this was also a time in which individual expression and exploration was simply not in fashion.

It's Different Nowadays

These days, the flip has totally switched. There are far more stimuli that are almost imploring people to adjust their lives. The internet and social media regularly drown us in opportunities to change, see things differently, listen to new worldviews, date new people, travel to new places, and so on.

So not only do people change inherently based on what they’re exposed to in their physical environments, but each generation is at risk to change more and more because there is more and more opportunity to do so on top of their physical environments.

Does it make it hard to plan for the future, and put a little too much emphasis on present satisfaction over long-term satisfaction? I’d say so.

But every generation has it’s price to pay and that would be ours. It just happens to be the opposite of the problem generations past thought they would have, but based on the stuff we’re talking about, I’m not sure it turned out that way.

Understanding True Commitment

The magic elixir for someone my Dad’s age, someone your age, someone my age, and someone younger than me to commit right now is to learn to commit in such a way that pays respect to these changes, changes which are becoming more prevalent with each passing year. And it’s too bad this wasn’t more encouraged back in the day, but again, no one really conceived of such things.

So you’re right, couples should work harder at commitment, but that means working harder at understanding true commitment rather than working harder to stick with things that clearly don’t serve us. As far as couples go, if you love someone and want to commit to marrying them, then do it. But here’s what the commitment should be based on:

Commit to both being good communicators. Commit to listening to your partner and seeing them through whatever changes may occur in a way that is respectful and free of ego. Commit to being vulnerable and honest.

And commit to the uncertainty of all of it.

Making peace with the uncertainty from the get go can make relationships that do fail much less painful and feel more like lessons than wounds. These are the types of qualities that we should take into consideration when committing to people romantically, but they also help us commit to maintaining good relationships with our ever changing selves.

——

And there we have it everybody. I thought this was a really good and important question, thank you so much to the woman who sent this in, and I hope you’re able to see your next relationship in a new light when you’re deciding to take the next step with someone.

I also hope you have a better grasp on just why it is that commitment has changed so much. That’s going to do it for today though, everyone, so if you have questions of your own you’d like emailed on the show, wait no longer! Email them to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com

Nothing is off limits, and we’re here to help. We’ve got a lot of great questions lined up already and can’t wait to bring one to you in our next episode. I’ll see you all there guys, take care of yourselves until then.


Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 120 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


mm

Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on minimalism tips for family members. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join my weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and free tools to optimize your life (and make my day)!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Enter your email to get our free Inspiration File on minimizing your wardrobe. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on decluttering sentimental items. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on getting started with minimalism. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter paper. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter books. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to help kids learn to declutter their toys. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on the bare minimum of items you need when moving. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on why financial literacy is important. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on overcoming money fears. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Enter your email to get our free PDF debt payoff tracker. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on maintaining your level of motivation. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on what to do after a deep tissue massage. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to counter sitting at a computer all day. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to stick to your budget. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on getting over a breakup. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Enter your email to get our free PDF with health and fitness quotes from Optimal Health Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Enter your email to get our free PDF with tips on how to spot -- and get out of -- a toxic relationship. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration, quotes, life tips, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

A Brand New You

Join our weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and productivity tools to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

OLD Podcast: Library

OLD Podcast: Library

Enter your email to get your password to access our handy library. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your personal finances. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Enter your email to get a sample of our journaling worksheet PDF with quotes and templates based on Optimal Living Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your health and fitness. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!