By Dr. Allen Novian
Couples come into my office with many complaints, but usually their problems boil down to at least one of three core issues. These issues can be summed up in the “3 C’s of Relationship,” comprised of Commitment, Communication, and Compassion.
Commitment issues include not only emotional and physical affairs but also anything that becomes a priority over the relationship. The one I see most often is the couple who over the years has allowed their commitment to the children take priority over the married relationship. As the children grow, the commitment to the marriage takes a backseat to the commitment to the children. I hear couples tell me over and over that between work and all the children’s activities, although they would like to be with each other more, there is no energy or time left to focus on the marriage. The worse part is that I often hear that they cannot imagine a way to change the situation without hurting the children, which is usually the reason they have come to see me.
Giving everything for your children may seem like the most loving thing you can do for them but the truth is if your children grow up learning and seeing that you are more committed to them than your marriage you do them a disservice. Now don’t get me wrong; I am not suggesting that children should not be a priority. Its just that the main priority should always be to the married relationship. Children need to grow up and learn how to be committed in a relationship. I often ask couples what type of relationship they want for their children as adults and not surprisingly most say that they want them to be in a happy, committed marriage one day (although they will often laugh and say not anytime soon).
The question is can you be happily committed in marriage? I believe you can but in order to do so the marriage has to be top priority ALWAYS! This means nothing, not work, extended family, or even children can come between the commitment between you and your spouse. The only relationship that may take priority over your spouse is a spiritual relationship if you and your spouse have one. The key is to communicate through both words and actions daily to your spouse that they are the most important person in your life. If you will demonstrate your commitment to your spouse in all that you do and say the probability of having to deal with the other more devastating commitment issues such as emotional and physical infidelity will decrease dramatically. However, communicating your commitment is often not something that comes naturally so this leads us right into a discussion of the 2nd C, Communication issues, which I will write on tomorrow.