Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pransky on Commitment

People make a commitment in order to enjoy someone or something, not because they already enjoy someone or something. Distraction and ambivalence tell you your commitment is weak. Commitment is a stance toward life, a predisposition to get the most out of each experience by dismissing thoughts and reactions that detract from its value.

--George S. Pransky, The Relationship Handbook
Pransky compares commitment in marriage to a man watching a movie. If he spends his time wondering whether he's chosen the right movie or whether he should have watched the comedy playing down the hall, he's not going to enjoy the movie. If he puts all those thoughts aside, though, and focuses his attention on the movie he's watching, he's more likely to enjoy it.

I think this pretty much describes the difference between my attitude toward my relationship with FoxyJ for the year or two leading up to our separation and my attitude in the months since we've gotten back together. Yes, there are likely many other people in the world--men and women--with whom I could have had a wonderfully satisfying relationship. But I've also had a wonderfully satisfying relationship with FoxyJ, when I've been undistracted enough to recognize it. Commitment isn't about being a slave to a promise you made when you were young and naive; it's an attitude that allows you to enjoy what you have. You can trade in what you have for something else, but as long as your attitude doesn't change, you won't be any happier--and when what you "have" is a person who's likely to be extremely hurt by said trading in, you're better off learning to change the attitude before you make the trade than after.

8 comments:

Lisa said...

Amen.

Michael said...

fabulous post

Mr. Fob said...

Thanks, Lisa and Michael!

Th. said...

.

That

is a very good point.

Mr. Fob said...

Thank you. I was bound to make one sooner or later.

ambrosia ananas said...

I really like that. Thanks.

Scot said...

I like that too. One of the better things about staying in your theater has to be the fact that you know the plot; heck, you wrote a lot of it. I mean, even if you did leave and step into this years Oscar winner, you’re getting there half way through, and you’d spend most of the time trying to catch up on the first half, which had nothing in it related to you anyway. :-)

Mr. Fob said...

And heaven knows I'm egotistical enough to enjoy a movie I wrote myself a hundred times more than one someone else wrote. Wait, what were we talking about again?

Thanks for commenting, Scot and Brozy.

I've been thinking about this post this morning, and worrying--as I often do--about what unintended messages may be taken from it. Just to clarify, I don't mean to say that every ended relationship has been a result of someone not having the right attitude. There are a lot of legitimate reasons to end a relationship, even if the dissolution causes pain for both parties; Pransky's words on commitment just ring true to my experience, which is the only experience on which I'm qualified to pass judgment. I'm glad to see there are others who find his view meaningful for them too.