"I am going to have the most amazing wedding ever! We are having over 300 friends and family, an amazing band, incredible food, a beautiful location...we pulled out all the stops!" Does this sound like a commitment to a great wedding or what!

What does it mean to be committed? What does it mean to be in a committed relationship? Very often we start with saying the words "I'm committed to..." and then we figure out what that means. What if we figured out the meaning ahead of time, created a plan with action steps and then said, "I'm committed", before moving forward with our actions?

My inspiration for looking at 'commitment' comes from a family wedding I recently attended. My nephew and his new bride have been together for eight years. I surely don't know all their history and private words they have shared; what I do know is my experience of being with them for a long weekend, observing their behaviors and interactions, and watching and listening to their vows as they shared them with one another.

Many times over the years, I have experienced couples who spend an incredible amount of time, money and energy on their wedding experience and I wonder quietly to myself, "what would it be like if they had dedicated this much energy to their relationship?" What if they were as committed to an amazing relationship as they were to having a spectacular wedding...would they be happier now? Would they still be married? Would they have learned how to get along when times got tough? Sure, they learned how to throw a great party and I'm not knocking that-they were committed to it! Yes, they had wonderful vows at the ceremony and I continue to wonder, "how committed were they to those vows when they decided on them?" Did they talk about them ahead of time? Did they create a game plan for implementing them? Do they have a way to be held accountable when things don't turn out how they planned?

Back to the wedding I attended. It was in a most amazing location, Yosemite, California. There were more than a hundred friends and family all staying in a beautiful mountain resort. The events were beautifully planned, and yes, lots and lots of time and energy were dedicated to 'the wedding'. What made it different for me was the experience of knowing the couple, their love, growth and dedication to each other over the years, and actually seeing them with each other and with their family and friends. They appear to have done both - made a commitment to a beautiful wedding experience and, most importantly, to their relationship. One of the values that they both declared in their vows that is so deeply important to them both is 'Respect'. I don't know their exact interpretation of this word, yet in my mind and heart, they were not only committed to it through their words, they showed they are truly committed by their actions. The moment they saw me (and my husband), we were the complete focus of their attention. They celebrated our arrival and acknowledged us, and we felt loved, cared about and in a place of respect. I watched this loving couple repeat these actions over and over, while continuing to provide each other (and themselves) the same care, love and respect.

When you think about being committed in a relationship, what does it mean to you? Does it mean being there for your partner? Does it mean being monogamous? Does it mean being respectful to yourself and your partner? Does it mean doing what it takes to keep a happy and healthy relationship? If you know way down deep in your heart that you want a truly committed relationship, then I'd like to invite you to take an inventory of what that really means to you. Once you have your list, ask yourself these 5 Key Questions (whether you are in a relationship or are ready for one):

What am I committed to in an intimate relationship?
Why is this important to me?
What do I need to do to keep my commitment?
What can I do to hold myself accountable?
How will I know if I am off track and what can I do about it?

An example of this might look like:

What am I committed to in an intimate relationship? - Total authenticity
Why is this important to me? - By being authentic, I continue to live in integrity with what is truly important to me - being the real me and having my partner experience the real me.
What do I need to do to keep my commitment? - Notice when fear or embarrassment comes up, which is when I would tend to slip from being authentic, and then connect to my need of integrity and choose to be authentic.
What can I do to hold myself accountable? - Keep a journal and write about my experiences and ask my partner for support.
How will I know if I am off track and what can I do about it? - I will feel uncomfortable in my body and know that I am withholding. At that point, I can ask for help from a close friend, do some writing, or share what has gone on for me with my partner.
Use these same questions when you are planning your wedding or anything else that is important to you. Hopefully, you will choose to be as committed to your relationship (or relationship to be) as you are to:

Planning the wedding
Building a business
Buying a car
Decorating your home
Getting a degree
You will be setting your life and your relationship up for success, not just in the beginning, but also all the way through - through thick and thin, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health and in love and in joy. Decide now!

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Hartman has a passion for showing single, heart-centered women entrepreneurs and professionals how to create relationships that are not only successful, but that are in alignment with their heart's passion and life purpose. She also enjoys helping Couples create more joyful, passionate and no-blame relationships. Her own experiences of building and sustaining a truly amazing marriage and a very successful business has shown her that it was as much about the beliefs she had about herself as it was about her skills and talents for creating and sustaining connection, growth and intimacy. By coaching with simple, effective tools to create positive and lasting change, Cathy helps women and couples become absolutely clear and committed to what is important to them in relationship so they can create the life that they love with the love of their life. http://www.heartfulconnection.com