Participants were those who self-identified as having been in an intimate committed relationship with their partner for at least one year and who were currently cohabiting with their partner.
The results of the methodology should be used mainly for descriptive purposes and to inform future assessment strategies. The sample was mostly white, female, middle class, highly educated, and reported high relationships satisfaction, so generalizability of the results is limited. The results of this study should not be considered comprehensive of all major variables impacting moral commitment.
Counselors need to be aware that the dimension of moral commitment may be a salient factor in enhancing the relationship stability and positivity in diverse types of intimate relationships. Clients' ideas of moral commitment may be influenced by external forces, such as religiosity or social pressure, and counselors should help clients deconstruct their values and beliefs. Counselors can help clients make personal decisions about moral commitment by locating the problem in the dominant culture vs. the individual. Social constructivist approaches to counseling, such as feminist therapy or solution-focused therapy, may be particularly suited to help clients examine their feelings of moral commitment. Both groups conceived of clusters of moral commitment that contained items describing values and beliefs that helped them stay hopeful during rough times in their relationships, thus counselors may want to assess for such beliefs and draw on them to increase positivity when their clients are experiencing relationship difficulties. Commitment seems to function similarly in cohabiting same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, but counselors need to remain aware of the unique social context in which these relationships are located. In particular, same-sex partners may feel an obligation to stay in their relationship to be a positive role model for other same-sex partnerships, and due to the effort and decision-making that goes into have children together in a same-sex relationship.