Commitment doesn’t always get the best rap. It seems like more people than ever are interested in having open relationships, which — while you can totally be committed to your partner(s) if you’re open — is inarguably a different kind of commitment, the kind that often doesn’t require physical monogamy.
And let’s be honest, it’s the male half of our species that’s biologically programmed to be more interested in having multiple partners. It’s not about stereotypes (of course women cheat too), but it’s still interesting to hear from men who’ve been in a committed relationship for years — and are happy about it. We found a bunch of them and asked them what they appreciate most about long-term love.
“Marriage is the opposite of what some cynics say. It’s not a ‘ball and chain’ or the end of some part of your life. It’s actually the start of a team. I’m a better person and our life has improved. When you get married, you have a partner in your life. It’s not just you, it’s the two of you against the world with double the strength to tackle any obstacles in your way.” — Sevier, 40, Los Angeles, California; married for eight years
“The best thing about being in a long-term marriage is the authenticity that comes with it and the freedom to be vulnerable with my best friend. During dating, there’s always a tendency to hold back or put on a bit of a facade. That facade disappears in the best relationships.” — Dwayne, 49, Detroit, Michigan; married for almost 10 years
“[Marriage] has brought true companionship, stability and consistency to my life. It’s great if you find the right person who is willing to commit to sacrificing and working together. It’s truly a wonderful blessing to have the privilege of waking up to the same faithful, loving woman for all these years.” — Damon, 42, Monroe, Louisiana; married for 19 years
“What I love the most about commitment is the comfort in knowing there’s someone out there who you can share your whole life with, that you can talk to about anything and share life’s happiness or sadness with.” -– Tyler Riddell, 45, San Diego, California
“There’s a melding together. We become used to each other. As one of my friends says, ‘I stay with my partner because it would take too long to train another.’ In other words, my partner and I are well bonded.” — Brian, 69, Auckland, New Zealand; married for 32 years
“I love our relationship because there’s a mutual level of trust, commitment and dedication. We have similar goals and shared values. There’s a great comfort knowing that someone will always be there for you no matter what — it enables me to take the kinds of risks I do, from adventures in distant lands to risking all our savings to start companies.” — Patrick, 40, Boston, Massachusetts
“The biggest reasons why I love commitment in a long-term marriage is for the amazing safety and closeness I feel with my wife and soul mate, Sandy. I feel that our marriage is a totally safe place for me to be who I am and also get the help for who I want to be without judgment or ridicule.” — Monte, 59, Orlando, Florida; married for 35 years
“After having been single for so long, my first reaction is as much about the joys of not being single, i.e., no more serial dating, blind dates, personal ads, dating services, speed dating — yup, I’ve tried them all. Being with someone who really and truly loves you is the best thing about being married. I love knowing that when I come home, I’m going to be with someone who loves me without condition, who has my back, who will go through fire for me.” — Dan, 54, Baltimore, Maryland; married for three years
“Both of us have been married before, but this has been my longest stretch: 20 years. We’re not spring chickens — I’m 70 and she’s 67 — but we’re active and healthy. I was lucky in love this time because both of us wanted to be married and have a lifelong relationship, especially since we were in our 40s and 50s when we met. In order to do business and co-stepparent together, we really have to communicate well about everything that concerns and challenges us. Men and women often don’t really understand each other well, but I think this time around, we’re seasoned, and not as prone to jumping to conclusions when we disagree, which is inevitable. We trust each other implicitly, and can almost always work things out. I honor her, she honors me and we work to make a satisfying and productive life together.” — William, 70, Cambria, California; married for 20 years
“I waited until age 45 to marry. It took waiting for my career to fall flat before I realized what I was missing. I met my wife on a dating website, and she and our kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. We now have a 4-year-old, a 5-year-old and a baby girl on the way. Before, it was always about me, the self-made perfectionist, baby of my own family. Work was my safe zone, providing the illusion of control. Along came a beautiful, mature, abused former spouse of an alcoholic, and we were able to relate since I grew up the child of alcoholics. The addition of children took me away from my inner dialogue. I don’t miss being ‘right,’ either. Now we’re inseparable — it can happen at any age, trust me.” — Mike, 57, Virginia
“I’m in a relationship that has a dimension I’ve never experienced. Because of our professions, she an anthropologist and me a psychotherapist, we have years of experience of listening attentively and patiently to the other person and letting the other person take time to say what he/she has to say. If we have a difference of opinion, we don’t say things like, ‘I didn’t like what you said or did.’ Rather, we say, ‘When you said that, or did that, here’s how I felt,’ and the words that follow are very personal and reveal our hurtful feelings. Throw in an intense physical attraction and an equally intense personality attraction, and the result is magical. Every time I come in from being out and see her, my immediate sense is, ‘Oh my gosh. This isn’t a dream. I really am in a relationship with this person.’ She feels exactly the same way.” — Jeffrey, 75, Ann Arbor, Michigan