Simple Definition of commitment
- : a promise to do or give something
- : a promise to be loyal to someone or something
- : the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something
Full Definition of commitment
When marriage is called a commitment, what is meant by that?
Legally, absent a valid prenup (and nobody knows for sure if it is valid until a judge decides in a divorce), there's a commitment to share finances. Since most women choose to marry men who do or will earn more than they do, this is usually a commitment for a man to financially support a woman. Usually, it also means that the man will be the default father to any child born to the woman during the marriage, regardless of who the actual biological father is. This disadvantages cuckolded men and benefits women whose husbands are better off financially than their adultery partners. It advantages men who want rights to a child who was actually conceived by donated sperm. The force of law enforces this, ultimately at the barrel of a gun. Divorce can usually be obtained unilaterally without any actual justification. In other words, in a state like California, which is community property and no-fault and has lifetime alimony after ten years of marriage, a woman can be a lousy wife, then file for divorce after ten years with the husband paying her lawyers, take half of everything, and live on the alimony for the rest of her life and, if that isn't enough, the "child support" for a child that wasn't even conceived by her husband.
Socially, there is usually (but not always) a stated commitment to fidelity and to "love, honor, and cherish". There is no enforcement mechanism for this commitment. It is only a matter of personal will, peer pressure, etc. If someone fails to keep these commitment, there is usually no effect on the legal/financial commitment. As such, women can actually be financially rewarded for NOT following through on this commitment. Also, the average man has a higher sex drive and desire for sexual variety and ability to enjoy casual sex than the average women (yes, there are exceptions, but we're talking about generalities). This is undeniable given the worldwide all-time history of prostitution. Also, since men tend to become more desirable to more women (up to a certain age) as they acquire more money, power, fame, experience, and confidence and women tend to lose their ability to attract men as they age (especially with the loss of fertility), the social commitment to fidelity is something that is more of a benefit to women. The supposed commitment a woman makes to take herself off the market from "higher bidders" doesn't really mean much, because subsequent suitors are less and less likely to be better catches, and she can commit adultery without negative legal or financial consequences and few, if any, negative social consequences. There are so many people who have tossed aside the social commitment and suffered little to no negative consequences with family, friends, etc.
Many people also understand marriage to be a religious commitment, however in the USA, freedom of religion means that the only way this commitment is enforced, if it is at all, is that if someone does not keep this commitment, they may lose some standing in a religious organization to which they voluntarily belong. Anyone who doesn't believe marriage is actually a matter of spiritual consequence will see this as mere an extension of the social commitment. However, even if one does believe there is a spiritual element in marriage, many people who appear to have been devoted and faithful Christians, for example, have divorced and gone about their merry lives in full acceptance of their churches. How many practicing Jews are doing just fine in socializing at their synagogue with a divorce or two behind them?
Do people grieve over divorce? Sure, some people do suffer in breakups whether or not they were married. But the only firm, consistent, widespread commitment I see in all of this is the breadwinner (usually the man) committing to financially supporting the other spouse and men committing to assume paternity (which men can sue for if they really want it and aren't married).
In my life, my wife "committed" to getting financial guarantees from me. Now, she has these guarantees whether or not we stay married. She can easily have me kicked out of my own home and compel me to pay for her to still live there. Breaking her social commitment to me comes with no legal or financial penalties, but rather financial rewards. This seems detrimental to social commitment. In living with me or even just dating me (which are things that can be done with or without marriage) she was placing herself in a vulnerable position because I'm bigger and stronger and could do her harm (although I'd be rightly prosecuted for doing so). But I do sleep, and she could easily kill me as I do. She could also physically attack me while I'm awake and defending myself would likely result in my arrest and likely prosecution.
To be sure, if she were to break the legal commitment she'd lose most of my services other than financial. She already has all of the paternity service she needs from me (and since I am snipped, there will be no adding to it), but she would lose my attention and lose me as her butler, bodyguard, driver, financial manager, assistant, errand boy, etc. and likely would lose my sexual services as well, although since she really doesn't have much desire for sexual services from anyone, I suppose that wouldn't be much of a loss for her.
My wife has gained much by marrying. She always wanted to be a wife and mother (or, at least, have those titles). Her bills get paid and she has me to literally stop her from killing herself. Her only loss is that as long as she allows me to be around, she'll be dealing with whatever annoyances I cause. I'm out earning income and commuting to do so much of the time, or running errands. At home, I never come to her with requests for her to do something other than asking her out (which is usually turned down), so if I am annoying to her, the annoyances are fleeting. What have I gained from marrying? Well, the infrequent mercy sex I get is technically within marriage, so it isn't fornication, so there's supposed to be a spiritual benefit there. She does drive the kids to and from school most days of the week, and she did give me children (though because she hid it from me until it was too late, she's passed along mental illness to at least one of them, which is something I very much wanted to avoid) but doesn't (can't?) really do much to mother them. She's pleasant enough to look at (quite beautiful actually). And she does some of the shopping. But after the morally-approved sex, those are all things I could get without any commitment whatsoever and certainly without marrying. I've taken on significant obligations, struggle, and stress in this commitment, putting my own financial, emotional, and physical well-being at risk.
There's commitment for you.