Saturday, 1 March 2014

Commitment - I get it.

It's probably my fault for having a thing about marriage and not wanting to do it, but I am getting quite tired of the questions people ask when they find out that G (whom I have to call my boyfriend for lack of another word) and I have been together for nearly 14 years.

I know that people are not meaning to be mean or tiresome, but I get asked the same thing again and again, and it puzzles me.

"Oh, so why aren't you married? Is it because you don't want the commitment?"

What part of "nearly 14 years" somehow implies a lack of commitment?! What part of waiting for nearly 2 years while he went to Antarctica, during which I never saw him, not even once, and Skype did not exist?
Please explain this to me? What really scares me is that the societal concept seems to be that you have to put your commitment down in a signed document, or it is not the real thing. It just seems so insecure to me that a commitment has to be signed and made law for it to hold.

I realised after about 4 or 5 years into my relationship what commitment really meant and how tough it actually was. It means sticking with the person even through times when they are driving you crazy and you are not feeling any love for them whatsoever. It means working through every problem you have with each other, even when leaving seems like the only option. Commitment is hard.

And it is something that many young people who get married have no idea about at all. I have heard stories of ladies who are now divorced who still say that their wedding day was the best day of their lives. Because it was all about them, because they got to be a princess for a day. Because romance as an ideal was being fulfilled. Not because of the unglamorous commitment part and what it really means.

 I totally understand that I am in a tiny minority of people who actually do not want a wedding and a legal contract (or a religious one) and that is why people get so confused. But our relationship is exactly the same as one with a certificate. Until death or divorce (unofficial in our case) do us part. I am working really hard towards having "death" (hopefully in the very distant future) as that ending. The same as anyone else. Commitment is everything to me.

Why does a contract make such a big difference? Why is it difficult for people to respect my relationship as the real thing? Why does G's family insist on calling me his fiance in public as if I am some embarrassment that they need to hide behind one of the safe labels we use?

My relationship is the real deal.


Damaria Senne said...

Why do I get the feeling someone broke the camel's back? Sorry:-)

I think some people NEED the piece of paper in their own relationships, and thus, cannot conceive of a couple who are committed to each other but don't have it. So they start looking for a possible reason why you don't have the paper (not committed enough). I think most of us have to realise that it's not always about us and how we want to define people/relationships. But, sometimes I get the feeling some people want us to fit into a mould, not just they can define us easily, but so it can validate their own decisions to do something/live a certain way (e.g. their decision to get married). It's like, if you don't get married but you are happy and committed to your partner, somehow you cast doubt into their worldview.

po said...

Hey Damaria! LOL to the camel's back. It is more of an accumulation of the same comment over and over - I think in SA and Nigeria (I spend a lot of time with Nigerians where I am working) marriage is very important so it is a bit of a cultural thing but even when I am with people for whom it is not such a big deal they always make that comment about commitment :( I definitely think it is a mould thing - it is so much easier to think marriage=full time commitment and unmarried means casual short term relationship. It was not such a big deal in the UK though because marriage is more optional there. Although most people still do it in the end! I feel kind of bad that I do not fit the mould and challenge people with their ideas of what a relationship should be but the commitment thing gets to me. Just "casually" staying with someone for 14 years ends up looking a lot like commitment, I think. LOL!