Standards of commitment

I have friends who are both married and not. I have a friend who, last year, divorced her husband after he abandoned her. Let me ask this one question of everyone out there: who sets the standard of what shows commitment? There seems to be some unwritten, unpublished, but oft-quoted standard of what demonstrates commitment, and if, typically, the guy falls short, then he’s not actually committed.

Here are some of the things I’ve come across:

  • He’s not committed to you until he actually marries you, but
  • If the couple chooses to elope, or one of the couple wants to elope, there isn’t actually any commitment
  • If he doesn’t spend the equivalent of two (or three) month’s wages or salary (before or after taxes and deductions?) on an engagement ring, then he’s not really committed to you

and now, the latest one I’ve heard that comes from Prince William’s latest decision:

  • If he doesn’t wear a wedding ring, or stops wearing one, he’s not committed to the marriage


So someone, please, tell me who in the hell came up with any of these "standards" of showing commitment. I would really like to know so I can sit them down and set them straight. I wrote earlier on the fallacy of marriage being necessary to prove commitment (despite how many marriages each year ending in divorce?):

For some reason, many, many women have it in the back of their minds that

Marriage = Commitment

Even if you’ve been together for years, living together for most of that time, both of you are faithful to each other and talking about your future together, without the marriage certificate and the wedding rings, somehow the guy is not or has not committed? Somehow I find that very, very hard to believe, and downright insulting to say the least.

When my fiancée and I do get married, it is likely that neither of us will wear our wedding rings all the time. Does that mean we are not actually committed to each other? Indeed plenty of married couples who are perfectly committed to each other don’t wear their wedding rings all the time. Actually the last time I wore my wedding ring (I’ve worn one periodically since getting engaged) I think was when I had an in-person job interview about 2 1/2 years ago.

And after we are married, if I were to walk out of the apartment without the ring on my finger, she won’t worry or wonder if I’m fully committed or faithful. She trusts me and knows I will be faithful to her.

Now some do allow for an exception depending on profession. Not everyone is able to wear their wedding rings all the time because it would be dangerous to do so, and certain workplaces may require that the workers remove all jewelry: rings, bracelets, wristwatches, and necklaces or neck chains. Along those lines, certain hobbies that people undertake may not permit the wearing of jewelry or certain articles of clothing. For example my father likes to make things in his spare time and has a workshop on his farm. I hope he takes off his wedding ring before he starts working out there to avoid the possibility of it having to be cut off his finger. After all, safety first.

Let me put it this way, the ring doesn’t automatically mean the person is committed to the marriage. The sheer number of divorces per year should be a clear indication of this. And absent necessity for certain circumstances, if a married person chooses to not wear a wedding ring, it does not mean they are not committed to the marriage. The ring is, in my opinion, immaterial and is just another cultural relic from times past. It is not a commitment litmus test.

There are a lot of ways to show commitment within a marriage or relationship, but the oft-quoted standards don’t quite fit that bill. So what does?

While oft times it’s quite subjective and sometimes hard to pin down, I feel one thing above everything else shows commitment: the willingness to be honest. And I don’t mean honest to a degree, I mean completely honest. Now it is reasonable to withhold some information from your significant other so long as you are not being willfully dishonest. It is not necessary or practical to inform your significant other of everything, but you should not and cannot be willfully dishonest or deceitful if you are questioned about something. In general you need to be honest with each other about damn near everything, even if that honesty may provide for hurt feelings.

The glue that keeps relationships together is trust, and there is no agent better at dissolving that glue than dishonesty and deceit. And this applies to married and non-married relationships equally.

After all, as I’ve said before, there is nothing special about marriage. Marriage is nothing more than a legal status on your relationship that is recognized by the government. You can be committed without being married and you can be married without being committed to each other. Marriage does not make one committed, and neither do the oft-quoted standards.

Trust and honesty is what allows people to commit and stay committed. It doesn’t take a ring or a marriage certificate. All it takes is trust and the willingness to be honest.