The Promises That Matter

A promise is a commitment you make with your heart. Promises are not like other decisions that we make that have open ended options of easy termination if it doesnít suit our needs or doesnít make us happy. The act of promising releases the right to reason on some level, because keeping a promise requires us to go beyond reason. Staying true to our word in spite of the inconvenience and discomfort is the core of a promise.

In the days of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table made a vow and were sanctimoniously knighted. They knew their promise was a sacrament. While there were moments of romantic adventure, they were signing on with their lives for the ordeal that the promise would demand of them.

Loving someone carries this kind of promise. Different from the heady falling in love stage or the romantic whirlwind of the love affair, authentic love that lasts is an agreement to give up our own personal simplicity in exchange for the continuous yielding that creates and sustains relationships. This long term commitment to love is also an ordeal of sorts, one that changes the participants each time they agree to keep loving.

Keeping a promise to love is a lifetime of saying yes to your relationship. When it works the partners understand that they are not really giving to each other, but rather to the relationship, which makes the sacrifices of personal satisfaction life building instead of impoverishing.

There are all kinds of commitments in which we make this kind of loving vow. Marriage, parenting and devotion to a career path all provide a context which require us to go beyond the ďreasonableĒ and to give more than we believe we are capable. It is in these crises that the promises we make are the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes even now after 24 years of marriage, the best reason I have for staying is because I said I would.

Promises are hard to keep for two reasons. Coming up with the constant willingness to stay put and do the work is an act of faith and courage which we donít always know how to find. In addition, it is often long after we make a promise that we realize that our promise to one person or situation precludes our availability to everyone and everything else. Choosing a specific career path is also closing a door to so many others. Committing to a partner excludes this kind of intimacy with all the other intriguing people we meet. A huge world of possibility closes with each promise we make.

This may be why there were only twelve knights at that Round Table. It is heroic work to make and keep a promise. It is not for the faint-hearted. What most people who quit on their promises donít know is that the moments when it seems impossible to say yes one more time, or the weight of the commitment is unbearable is the very moment when your promise has the most to teach. Each time you pass through this threshold with your integrity intact, the promise and the love grows large enough to hold whatever inside of you wants to break it down.

Keep your promise by focusing on the love. Your comments and feedback are very important to us. Please let us know what you think! Join our ongoing conversation about this and other topics on sustainable love at www.makinglovesustainable.com. The highest compliment you can pay us is to pass this on to the people you love the most. Please enjoy a 10% discount on your next purchase by entering coupon code PROM0707 and enhance the relationships that have promise in your life.

Wendy Strgar, the owner and founder of Good Clean Love, manufacturer of all natural love and intimacy products. She is a sex educator focusing on “Making Love Sustainable,” a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. She has learned that physical intimacy is an important component of sustaining healthy loving relationships through her own marriage of over 25 years.

19 comments

Stephanie S.
Stephanie S.7 years ago

We all know that change is the only constant. So I feel promises are unhealthy in relationships. They lead to expectations, and no one has the right to expect anything from us. We are all free to have our commitments... and change our minds whenever necessary.

SEND
Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner

SEND
Brenda V.
Brenda V8 years ago

Ross, I think you nailed it by differentiating between a promise and a commitment.

As for your situation, keep seeking God and forgive yourself. Heal and grow from this breakup. Know that sin has no scale and that if we don't truly forgive we will not be forgiven. Show this woman grace, pray for her and watch how God will bless you for your kindness.

SEND
Ross Page
Ross Page8 years ago

Trish, your comment reminds me of treaties that were "promised" to Native Americans by Europeans and broken time after time I too, said no more promises. This is where commitment and promises differ, I think. A promise involves wanting to always hold up to your word, but doesn't factor in human nature of a change later. On the other hand, a commitment involves sticking to the plan no matter what. We should be real careful how we toss around words and what they mean to the ones we love.

SEND
Trisha Trimble
Naomi Trimble8 years ago

Great Article and wonderful comments I need not say more as I cannot disagree with anyone, and yes a promise is a promise, my past is full of broken promises from others ~ No more there has to be some proof and genuine honesty that each promise will not be broken, I have made some foolish choices...

SEND
Ross Page
Ross Page8 years ago

I made a promise to a now former girlfriend (split apart 3 weeks now) to work through any disagreements we had. We went to counselling,tried to share how in the past we were hurt, prayed together,and tried to work with each other's flaws.
In a previous relationship, I had an affair admittingly to try to get out of a no love situation. It was a mistake, I admitted it and was honest about every question she asked me about my past. I made a promise to her, asked for forgiveness from her and God and wanted to make this love work. When she ended it, she said she could never trust me. I was blown away, but I have to understand her reasons,based on my past. The only one that can really forgive me is God. Will I have to live with the mistrust the rest of my life, even if I come clean and make a promise to the one I love? It hurts, but I guess I need to feel what the ones in the past relationship felt. Still a promise needs to be fulfilled when both parties can admit their past, forgive past mistakes and learn to love again.

SEND
naomi f.
naomi f8 years ago

Rebecca, I understand what you are saying and I agree. However, do you believe that leaving your child alone with a person like this is ok. Can you walk away and enjoy the rest of your day in peace knowing that your children are alone while their father is drunk and passed out? This is what I'm saying. I will not have long term damage, because I'm not unhappy. I am very happy. My husband can't control my happiness. It might make me upset and hurt my feelings, but I won't let him steal my joy. I am happy as long as I know my children are safe with me EVERYDAY. I feel for you and people like you and I understand. I'm not judging your choice, but your husbands lack of commitment. If he understood commitment you to might still be married and teaching your children that life might be about struggle, but when you work hard at overcoming your challenges anything is possible. God Bless

SEND
naomi f.
naomi f8 years ago

you can enjoy life if you focus on what is positive about your life. You can change to energy that follows you and people around you will change. I hope I have clarified my position on the topic of the article and that is keeping and understanding promises.

SEND
Rebecca S.
Rebecca S8 years ago

Naomi, you seem to feel very strongly about this issue. I hope that by staying in an abusive relationship your children will not suffer long-term damage. It is a much deeper issue than being a "judge" and deciding what is abusive and what isn't. My daughter's dad was in jail twice, spent a lot of our money on drugs and drinking, stayed out all night sometimes and then I had to leave her with him so I could go to work, knowing that he was probably still passed out drunk in bed. Not okay. It is not okay for a child to see their father (or either parent) continually demeaning, disrespecting, neglecting, and deceiving the mother (or other parent). That is not a healthy environment.
My parents stayed together while I was growing up and they shouldn't have. Things were so bad that my mom nearly committed suicide. It wasn't until one of my siblings was severely wounded by my father that she left, all because of the "promises" and social/religious constraints of marriage. Please be considerate of yourself and your children, make a promise to yourself.

SEND
naomi f.
naomi f8 years ago

to focus on the fact that I am in my children's lives everyday. I can take care of them and help them through. My positivity will change the dynamic of my relationship with my husband, and when my children are old enough where we don't have to split custody, if my husband has not changed I will leave to show my children that I stayed long enough to try really try to make good on my promise to them and to my marriage. I will also show them that it is unacceptable to treat you spouse that way, and that if your partner doesn't change, you will. By that age my children will have a better understanding of what is happening and they will be better equipped to handle any inappropriate behavior from their father. I hope I have clarified my position on "keeping promises" and teaching promise.

SEND