April 1, 2020

Meant2Be: ‘Committed’

This year marks 21 years that I’ve been married to my husband, Robbie. As long as I can remember, we’ve played this little game that whenever we meet someone who’s been married for 20-plus years, we ask: “What’s your secret?” My husband and I have gotten dozens of answers over the past 21 years.

Some of the funnier answers have been:

“He makes me laugh.”

“She’s hot, I’m not.”

“Her mother lives in Baltimore.”

There have been dozens of answers, but there’s one answer that has left me uneasy. One that has made me actually frown every time I hear it. When I hear it, I feel a wave of nausea bubble over from my kidneys — like a ball and chain is dragging me into an oblivion of “aaah, you poor thing” rhetoric. 

That answer is: “Commitment”

Commitment?

I know you are surprised. I am in a monogamous relationship, which I deeply value. So I do respect commitment. But I can’t deal with the secret of marriage being commitment. There’s a difference.

When someone tells me the secret to his or her 42-year marriage is commitment, I think, “Really? You are bound to each other because you are committed?” It sounds like a psyche sentence or a prison punishment. Or the theme song to that discount store with tons of toilet paper named Smart & Final that many people associate with marriage.

I’d like to believe we stick with a spouse because of love, and the byproduct of that love is commitment, not the other way around. If the answer to the secret of being married for 20-plus years is that you are merely committed to staying there, then I’m going to assume you’re just too lazy to get divorced. But that’s just me.

I guess when I think of “commitment,” I think of these words: responsibility, obligation, duty, tie, liability, task, engagement, arrangement. Those words are the least kind, loving, romantic, hot, sexy, sweet words. They are the sort of words that you’d use for things such as doing taxes, organizing your pantry or getting a colonoscopy. These words speak of a different sort of union. And I’m not really interested in having that sort of love.

A puppy. A puppy needs that sort of love. Have you ever been told you need to shell out $500 to learn how to hand-feed your Chihuahua because she has acid reflux and you might get doggy vomit all over your hands? Now there’s an obligatory commitment, if I’ve ever heard one.

I’m not saying when you’re married you don’t have to do gross stuff. I’m just saying, that’s not the secret to a happy marriage. So, no, I don’t want my marriage to be like owning a dog.

You know what also needs commitment? Plants. Plants need someone to show up every day and do the same task, Every. Single. Day. Water, plant food and repeat. Sure, there’s that exciting time of the month when you move the plant a quarter of an inch to be in the light. Yes, that sounds super hot. Let’s face it, owning a plant takes commitment, but it’s also monotonous, boring and predictable. Nope, I don’t want my marriage to be like watering a plant either. I don’t think that’s the secret to a happy marriage.

So I guess that if someone asked me the secret to my 20-plus-year marriage, I’d say: “The pursuit to grasp romantic love.”

I say the pursuit, because it is a constant quest, one that sometimes comes very easily, and other times comes with more exertion. I never signed up for a committed marriage — not that I want him flying off and having an affair with some cowgirl named CiCi — but I definitely need more than his willingness to feel obligated to stay with me and for me to feel the responsibility to never leave. I think the secret to our great marriage is that our commitment to each other is the side-effect, not the conductor to our love. Our goal is always to strive to fall in love; I think that’s our secret. We work on falling in love every day. And when I don’t feel as if I’m falling, then I flip out, have a temper tantrum and wear a tight dress until we get back on track to start falling all over again.

So that’s my secret to 21 happy years. We fall. Every. Single. Day. And it’s never monotonous, boring or predictable. I’m not saying we have always gotten it right, or that we have not sunk into those “committed” days, but, thank God, we have never been happy with that mediocrity. We have continued to strive for awesome, and I think that’s our secret to staying together for 21 years.

So, no. Commitment is not the secret to our marriage. Thank the good Lord — if it were, I’d need to start calling Robbie “Fern” and buy him a blue pot to sleep in.


Chava Tombosky is an executive producer and a director at Deer-Vision Motion Pictures, a recording artist and an ongoing writer for The Huffington Post and for her personal blog, “Thelma & Louise.” 

Do you have a story about dating, marriage, singlehood or any important relationship in your life? Email us at meant2be@jewishjournal.com.