Fewer and fewer couples are tying the knot. According to Pew Research Center, marriage rates have steadily declined in recent years. Today, just half of all Americans are married, compared with 58% in 1980. 

What’s to blame for this 8% drop? There are likely several factors involved, and fear of commitment is one of them. 

Unfortunately, this fear can prove to be a significant obstacle if you want to take your relationship to the next level. The good news, though, is that you can overcome your fear of commitment. Here are 4 tips that will help you do so:

One, explore the cause of your fear. Try to pinpoint why you became afraid of commitment in the first place. Does your fear stem from your parents’ divorce? Was it triggered by a past heartbreak? Do some digging to get to the root of the problem.

Two, look at a happy committed couple. Witnessing an unhealthy relationship first or secondhand can certainly skew your view of relationships. Observing a happy, healthy relationship instead can help you see a different side of commitment and help you overcome your fear. 

Three, ease in. In other words, explore small amounts of commitment first. These commitments don’t need to be relationship related. For example, join a book club. You’ll have to commit to reading a book and meeting with the group at a designated time and place. The purpose? This, and other small commitments, can help you feel more comfortable devoting yourself to something or someone.

Four, consider the benefits. If you have a fear of commitment, you’re probably stuck on the potential drawbacks. Do your best to shift that focus and think about all of the potential benefits. For example, a strong committed relationship can bring you greater happiness and fulfillment. Research shows that it can boost your mental and physical health, too. 

These four tips can help you begin to overcome your fear of commitment and take that next step in your relationship.