How committed are you (both) to the relationship?

Limited commitment?

What is a committed relationship?

Commitment a willingness to give your time, energy and effort to make the relationship work. This might include spending quality time together, creating opportunities for emotional and physical intimacy and of course fidelity. There is also a commitment to making your partner happy, by fulfilling their needs. Although this is sometimes in competition with making yourself happy and your partner fulfilling your needs.

100 % commitment is unrealistic

Probably you are somewhere between 1 % and 99 % committed. If you were 0% committed, you would not be looking for relationship advice and counselling and may have left the relationship already. Equally, if you were a 100% committed, you would not be looking for relationship advice and counselling because you would be so happy that there would be no need for advice and counselling. You might be 100% committed to making the relationship work, but probably only if some changes occur, or if your partners stops complaining. Most people looking for relationship advice have mixed feelings about their relationship: on the one hand there is love, a shared history and joint achievements, but on the other hand there is also dissatisfaction, hurt and doubt. Relationship counselling often starts by assessing the relative commitment of each partner to the relationship and identifies the biggest roadblocks to being committed.

Commitment to process or outcome?

The commitment is then to a process of overcoming the roadblocks, not to a specific outcome. Sometimes one or both partners come to the conclusion that the hurt is too deep, or the differences are too big to stay together. But most couples find that they are committed to making their relationship work, but don’t quite know to overcome their problems. In these situations a relationship counsellor can help to develop new relationship skills and provide positive corrective experiences of connection.

Test your commitment

Relationship Commitment Survey

Please indicate the degree to which you agree with each of the following statements regarding your current relationship, using this scale:

1. I want our relationship to last a very long time.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

2. I am committed to maintaining my relationship with my partner.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

3. I would NOT feel very upset if our relationship were to end in the near future.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

4. It is likely that I will date someone other than my partner within the next year.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

5. I feel very attached to our relationship – very strongly linked to my partner.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

6. I want our relationship to last forever.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely

7. I am oriented toward the long-term future of my relationship (for example, I imagine being with my partner several years from now).    

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Do Not Agree At All       Agree Somewhat       Agree Completely


Question 3 and 4 are reverse scored:

8 is scored as 0

7 is scored as 1

0 is scored as 8

Add up your score: _____


0 You have the perfect relationship, and/or the perfect partner, being very much in love and free of doubt.

1-18     Some doubts about the relationship are normal, as nobody is perfect. Despite a little doubt you are committed to your relationship. Address the issues that bother you with your partner.

19-36   You have some serious doubts about your relationship. Don’t let it fester and take some action with your partner. Work through a self-help book together or get advice from a relationship counsellor before it is too late

37-56   Your relationship is in acute danger and the negative seems to outweigh the positive. Perhaps you have already decided to leave, but something is holding you back. It may be your partner’s behaviour, or your own perception of them — or both. If it’s not too late and you want to save the relationship get some professional help asap.

Disclaimer: these numbers are somewhat arbitrary and do not paint a complete picture of your relationship. They give a general indication only and do not consider individual circumstances.

The Art of Listening

One of the most common complaints that brings couples to relationship counselling is when one, or both partners feel uncared for. Women’s feelings of not feeling cared about is one of the strongest predictors of separation and divorce.

While there are many ways to show care one of them is listening to each other. When our partner listens to us we feel that we are important enough for the listener to spend time with us, and we feel that we are being heard and taken seriously. We our partner listens and validates what we are saying we build up trust, as the listener indicates is generally on the same page, even if they don’t agree with everything.

Often we don’t want our partner to necessarily agree with us (although sometime we do), mostly we want to be understood and acknowledged. This understanding forms a bond of intimacy between couples. As the saying goes: to know me is to love me. Not everyone who knows me will love me, but the one who loves me hopefully want to really know and accept me. Therefore talking and listening to each other is a way to deepen intimacy and to show care in a relationship.

Benefits of good listening:

  1. acknowledge the speaker,
  2. increase the speaker’s self-esteem and confidence,
  3. tell the speaker, “You are important” and “I am not judging you,”
  4. gain the speaker’s cooperation,
  5. reduce stress and tension,
  6. build teamwork,
  7. gain trust,
  8. elicit openness,
  9. gain a sharing of ideas and thoughts, and
  10. obtain more valid information about the speakers and the subject.

How to Listen with Empathy

Empathy is the ability to project oneself into the experience of another person in order to better understand that person’s emotions or feelings. Through empathic listening the listener lets the speaker know, “I understand your problem and how you feel about it, I am interested in what you are saying and I am not judging you.” The listener clearly expresses this message through words and non-verbal behaviours, including body language and tone of voice. In so doing, the listener encourages the speaker to fully express themselves free of interruption, criticism or being told what to do. It is not necessary for the listener to agree with the speaker.

Here are some specific guidelines:

  1. Be attentive. Be interested. Be alert and not distracted. Create a positive atmosphere through nonverbal behaviour: e.g. eye contact, open stance, soft tone of voice.
  2. Be a sounding board — allow the speaker to bounce ideas and feelings off you while assuming a non-judgmental, non-critical manner.
  3. Ask questions that demonstrate interest and encourage the speaker to go into more depth.
  4. Don’t ask questions that give the impression you are interrogating the speaker.
  5. Act like a mirror — reflect back what you think the speaker is saying and feeling.
  6. Don’t discount the speaker’s feelings by using stock phrases like “It’s not that bad,” or “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
  7. Don’t let the speaker “hook” you. This can happen if you get angry or upset, allow yourself to get involved in an argument, or pass judgment on the other person (this is very hard when the listener is hurting too).
  8. Indicate you are listening by
    1. Providing brief, noncommittal acknowledging responses, e.g., “Uh-huh,” “I see.”
    1. Giving nonverbal acknowledgements, e.g., head nodding, facial expressions matching the speaker.
    1. Invitations to say more, e.g., “Tell me about it,” “I’d like to hear about that.”
  9. Follow good listening ground rules:
    1. Don’t interrupt.
    1. Don’t change the subject or move in a new direction.
    1. Don’t rehearse in your own head.
    1. Don’t interrogate.
    1. Don’t teach.
    1. Don’t give advice.
    1. Do reflect back to the speaker what you understand and how you think the speaker feels.

Reference: Image by jamesoladujoye from Pixabay