Creating Grounded, Meaningful Relationships Through Commitment
When we think of what commitment implies in a relationship, we usually look to what it symbolizes, as opposed to what it entails. In other words, we think about the outcome rather than the process. This tendency to focus on the “end result” rather than how we get there is problematic because it gives us no guidelines for sustaining a mutually satisfying relationship. After all, the word itself—commitment—means different things to different people.
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While one person may conjure vows (a promise to “love, honor, cherish”) to define a committed relationship, another may feel exclusivity is the lone requisite factor. And though all points of view on the subject are valid, the universal truth is that real, lasting commitment isn’t conceptual in nature—it’s practical. What do you expect of each other? What are you willing to give? In other words, how are you going to nurture your commitment? Where are your energies being spent? These are the sorts of details that create the moments that become a commitment.
Answer the Important Questions
In order to maintain a successful, committed relationship, it’s vital that you and your partner define, in concrete terms, exactly what that relationship looks like on a daily basis. Do you eat dinner together? How do you split the chores? When will you make time for each other? How often will you go on dates? How much affection do you need? How much sex do you want to have and what kind? If you like it rough and your partner blushes at the most vanilla bedroom antics, problems are going to arise.
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Same goes for not working out the household chores or the way finances are going to work—in good times or bad. You need to become a team. And a team is nothing if not prepared. While this kind of brass tacks stuff may not sound as romantic as lofty notions of “happily ever after,” nailing down these sorts of specifics is exactly the kind of glue that can bind you for the long haul.
Clarify Your Expectations
By creating real clarity of expectations, you lower the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding. If your mate knows you need non-sexual affection to feel seen and accepted, you’re more likely to get it on the regular. And if you know they feel more comfortable when you handle paying the bills every month, you’ll take on the responsibility. Furthermore, there is vulnerability in opening up about what you expect to give to and get from a partner. Allowing another person to see you—warts and all—is the very definition of intimacy.
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Likewise, by sharing what you need rather than expecting your partner to read your mind or fulfill your unexpressed ideas, you’ll ensure that you can satisfy each other on a meaningful level. That kind of fostered, deep connection has staying power. It’s the stuff “happily ever after” is built upon—even when you annoy each other.
So, where do you start? Ask your partner what he or she needs from you. Ask yourself what you need from them, and communicate those needs. From there you can lay the foundation from which your commitment can grow, in real, grounded ways. You’ll find they’re much more satisfying than the platitudes, and they give you the kind of bond you were dreaming of in the first place.
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