The media is flooded with evidence of individuals who are struggling to find ways of maintaining relationships that are important to them and subsequently failing.  One could argue they are failing because we are a disposable society who can’t seem to commit to a new phone let alone a personal relationship.   Erik Erikson believed one of the developmental stages of early adulthood is Intimacy vs. Isolation.  If you are successful during this developmental phase you achieve a positive outcome that enables you to make loving commitments to others.  If you are unsuccessful during this developmental phase you struggle with love.  You have difficulty with affection and demonstrate an inability to maintain lasting affectionate relationships.   This inner conflict usually leads to an outward expression of anger causing a breach in the level of commitment and ultimately a breakdown of the relationship. 

 

America recently had a new term enter mainstream media–conscious uncoupling.  This term is now used by individuals seeking to explain “uncoupling” to family and friends.  They seemingly, have found a way to move past the anger and rage that typically becomes a part of the breakdown of the relationship and found peace in “consciously uncoupling”.  They’ve made the choice to not linger in the breakdown and move on to the next phase of their lives.  Some have criticized this type of breakup as new age mumbo jumbo.  Others have embraced the decision to liberate oneself from anything that is not working, especially relationships.  Whatever side you may land on I’d like to offer a viewpoint that speaks to “conscious commitment”.  The idea that when we as adults decide to enter into committed relationships with the intention to do what is necessary to create an environment of loving longevity.  Decreasing resentment, anger, confusion, isolation, ambiguity, hopelessness, and deep sadness after agreeing to partner with another.  We understand the complexity of human nature and therefore it’s beneficial to seek assistance in how to commit to each other–with intention.

Intentional Commitment

My understanding of intentional commitment is that each partner agrees to invest intentional effort in the relationship.  These efforts include but are not limited to: effective couple communication that promote learning about each other.  Learning skills that promote working collaboratively to resolve conflict, understand differences, and communicating for results.  These interactions often aid in reducing conflict and anxiety in the relationship.  This type of psychotherapy works to preserve the commitment through intentional modifications.  The goal is to help the couple identify intentional commitment as an attraction as opposed to an obligation.

 
Please contact Lauren White-Johnson if you would like to learn more about this type of relationship assistance.

Posted on 4/21/2014
Lauren F. White-Johnson, Licensed Psychotherapist