Keeping The Faith And Thoughts On Commitment
Posted March 28, 2011 at 9:10 AM by Ben Nadel
The other day, the always-lovely Smita Samal mentioned the movie Keeping The Faith, starring Ben Stiller, Ed Norton, and Jenna Elfman. This happens to be one of my favorite movies and our conversation got stuck in my head. Last night, I was feeling a little bit nostalgic and popped it in the DVD player. As always, it is a wonderful movie that just brings a smile to my face every time I watch it; but, this time, my attention got hooked by one particular line that I found to be quite profound:
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You cannot make a real commitment unless you accept that it's a choice that you keep making again and again and again.
I think what I like so much about this line is that it is a reminder that nothing is easy all of the time. Even the things, about which we are most passionate, will not excite us every single day. On the days where our love feels vibrant and voracious, it is great; but, on the days where our love wanes, we have to remember that love is perhaps as much a choice as it is a desire.
The corollary to this, however, is the acceptance that love and commitment require work; that they aren't simply internal drives - they are choices that we have to consciously make over and over again. And while I am talking about Love abstractly, I'll end this brief stream-of-consciousness with a quote about romantic love from Mignon McLaughlin as found in For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage by Tara Parker-Pope:
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
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Yes, I can say very well it is true that you need to consciously make a commitment every so often. I think this is part of the reason why many marriages break up. Just as you are not the same as you were 5 years ago, you will not be the same as 5 year ahead. There will be new life experiences, some that will test the very strength, and that's when you need to revisit your commitment.
Love that quote. In fact... I just had to use it in my FB status.. haha
Very true... and I agree, nothing is easy all the time.
Great read Ben.
I know this is a bit random, but the one thing that always seemed really odd to me (and I can't speak from experience) is the "Seven year itch." Like, how do you make it 7 years into a marriage and *then* start to feel restless? If I've invested 7 years into something, I have to believe it's something I really want to be doing.
Oh cool! Glad you liked it. I think it's fun how much value we can get out of movies :)
@Ben, I think this whole insight explains much of the power behind "The Five Love Languages", where they talk about love as an action, not an emotion. The way we "feel" about things can and does change all the time, but love really is more about committing to "choose" within certain parameters every time, regardless of how we feel.
And I agree with you about the 7 year itch. My wife and I had some rough patches in our first few years together (the rigors of grad school on a new marriage etc), but once we had stuck it out for those first few years, it's been gravy for the past 16+. Not that's always easy, but there's not been an "itch" ... the choices are made every day to be committed.
And thanks for sharing that quote from Tara Parker-Pope as well, just excellent.
Good call with the Five Love Languages! That is a great example of how feeling love isn't enough; you actually have to know about the other person and choose to do the things that you know they will *personally* appreciate.
Congrats on the long haul! That's awesome :D
I'm sure I'm probably the last person in the world who can comment on "commitment". I've been keeping my eye on this one, though. It is interesting to me, the blog, and the concept of commitment. And also the people who are capable of doing it. I guess it would be somewhat fair to classify me as relatively "scared of commitment". I like to think sometimes that I haven't met the "right" person, but sometimes, I think I am just one of those good ole-fashion commitment-phobes. (but, also, my very busy lifestyle does not help, either).
And there are times when I scorn guys who are not capable of commitment or seem to be running from it. It's one of the reasons, as I have discussed, I think arranged marriage could sometimes work. I believe there are some guys out there who would make wonderful husbands, and their only fault really is the lack of this ability to commit. I think, under a forced commitment, they would excel wonderfully as a partner in life and be a great mate. I could see it working. But because they aren't forced to commit, they don't. Because it isn't expected of them ot commit, they don't. They would rather be lonely or play around with the same old girls for the rest of their lives than really commit to a true relationship.
I realize that what I just said may sound hypocritical, and perhaps it is just a little bit. And it may sound like it is in direct contradiction to what I previously said about my inability to commit. The truth is, I don't really have an inability to commit, I just find it to be a very difficult thing to do. But, even that being the case, I have at times in my life been willing to commit, and it was with one of these guys who was a true commitment-phobe. But maybe partly, it was that I was picking these guys, subconsciously, because I didn't really want to commit either, and so I chose to be with a commitment-phobe, because I knew in the end I wouldn't have to commit. :-)
When I think about love, one of my favorite resources is the Bible. @Ben, I know you don't like this, but there is so much there that I can connect with and love to involve on and incorporate into my dates. Some of the verses I have read with/discussed with on my dates. My favorite book in the whole Bible is Solomon's Song of Songs, and I was introduced to this as a teenager (or before...I don't really remember). It was before I knew what half of that stuff meant, and I certainly didn't know what it was like to be kissed even! So the stuff I read, I couldn't really connect with on a level of understanding what it felt like, but when I read it, I was like, "oh wow". And for the record, that book was almost not cannonized, because it was so provocative, but it stands as my favorite book, AND, it is just as valid as any other book because it is there and it is a part of it. I think that's important. Anyway, there are so many, but one of my favorite verses from this book I leave you with (as I believe this is the best to conclude yet another LOOOONG blog comment of mine. :-)):
"6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.[b]
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away."
Song of Solomon ftw, Anna! There is much about commitment and focus to be found throughout the Bible of course, but when it comes to that one personal Relationship with another person in your life, Song of Solomon takes the cake. Just thinking of chapter 3, where the bride scours the city because she can't be without her groom.
1 All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
"Have you seen the one my heart loves?"
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother's house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
@Jason: I am so sorry, Jason, I am not up to date on what the chat shortcuts/abbreviations mean, so I am not sure what ftw means. Sometimes, I am afraid, it is curse words people are abbreviating, and although I don't curse, I am guilty of using these sometimes. Because of that, I have a few things going through my head about what ftw means, but they don't go very well paired with the Bible. :-/
When thinking of some of my favorites from Song of Solomon, that part also went through my mind. I love all of song of Solomon, including that one. Song of Solomon also has some very useful tips on how to handle fights/arguments -- AWESOME!!!! And as I have said, lots of good date stuff...it raises my temperature a few degrees just reading it. And I'm not sick/don't have a fever. Well, I may be getting over a cold a bit, but that doesn't explain it lol.
I love this part:
3 Like an apple[c] tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
Which, together with what I previously posted, is in contradiction with what a lot of people think of that Christians are not supposed to be jealous. Here, the text is saying that you better be jealous, you have a right, your banner over me is love. You know, you have your name on me...possess me, own me. lol. Ok, I am not speaking to anyone specific there, just in general. But the point is, that it is ok to be a little possessive of someone, and when you are in love with someone, you give the possession of yourself to them, when your passion for them is that deep. They are the only person in the world you care about that way, and so they have this incredible hold of you. But it's not a bad thing where that person is sucking the life/blood out of you, it is a reciprocal thing, because the love is shared mutually and equally. I know all of this, because I have been in love ONE time where it was basically like this the whole time.
Song of Solomon also discusses positioning, giving the missionary position as a great choice for top pleasure, and has beautiful poetry/imagery.
I even love the beginning of it:
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you-let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Even though I am not a wine drinker, I know that back then, wine had a much greater significance to them, and they wrote this, partly, because they knew the readers would be able to connect with it. To me, that verse opens the book perfectly, and lets you know it's going to a be a good read from start to finish.
'ftw' just stands for 'for the win!' so no cursing involved ;) Just a general term of approval.
And I agree, that all of Song is just excellent, good stuff, far too often ignored by preachers and most Christians alike, but no less important.
Ahhhh...cool! Thanks! that is a really neat one. I may just have to use it sometime, and will feel better using it since. I have a friend who would rather not say dirty-words in front of children, so she makes up anagrams for them. For the one, she says something like Simmering Hot Iced Tea (I think, I may have gotten a word or two wrong). And then, there's always that CU Next Tuesday, which I did not get for the longest time. (I guess you could also aways say CU Next Time...guest it works the same way). That's a good one...I was thinking it meant something like f the Word, but I didn't think the f stood for what it usually stood for, considering the context, so then I thought it might be "for the Word" lol. But I like yours. Was close, though. Agreed - lots of preachers and Christians like to ignore the book, but it is no less important. I give it attention on dates, because of the important chapters on conflict resolution and how it advises you are good was to resolve conflict. :-) You can't really throw out one very important part of the Bible, if you are choosing to follow it. And it would be a shame to forego the dating and courting advice in that book, since that is where it starts, and I think far too many times, people have a lot of trouble in this area, and are sidetracked and get off on the wrong foot. :-)