There are those fantastic exceptions, of course, those lifelong romances so many of us aspire to, but is that realistic? Is it healthy?
Would it be better if instead of saying "Til death do us part," if we gave more pragmatic and achievable commitments?
What if we made monogamously committed partnerships that lasted five or six years at a time with a one year period to decide if we wanted to continue through the next several years with that same person and follow through with the contract?
Maybe there is something harshly jaded in this thinking but personally, I love variety. I've dated a plethora of people and found priceless treasures in each and every one of my relationships and dating experiences.
I think part of why so many partners separate on less than friendly terms is because of the letdown, the betrayal of dreams, the unmet even if almost impossible expectations.
One in three marriages goes through some type of adultery and adultery, once committed is an addiction akin to heroin. The way it affects the brain is relatively irreversible.
To say drugs are bad is to say that the concept of monogamous lifelong marriage is inherently flawed for a third of the population.
Would it be better if cheating and the decline of marital bliss into animosity were avoided by well set up and thought out guidelines? i.e. if children are adopted or conceived the commitment is extended from five years to fifteen upon the agreement of both parties?
Is this too clinical? Too logical? For most people, the best part of a relationship is the beginning. The heady rush of shiny newness is fresh and alive and both people are in bliss so they often lose their ability to think straight and often make promises that later cause misery and resentment if not hatred, so maybe it is time for logic and reasoning to replace the possibly worn out stagnation of doctrines that are perhaps proven by the divorce rate incompatible with today's life expectancy.
When the most likely suspect in a murder investigation is the spouse, perhaps it has become essential to individual survival to change the current thinking and beliefs about marriage.
You're probably wondering when the Disney princess in me died. You're probably thinking I don't have a romantic bone in my body or that I've never been in love.
I assure you that is not the case. I've loved deeply and love falling in love even when my heart gets smashed to bits.
Admittedly like many out there, I am a failure at relationships. No matter how hard I try to make a significant other happy or please them, things have ended.
Many of you are aware my tolerance of terrible in relationships is fairly high, possibly even too high. The lengths I have gone to, to save relationships, is "near death" in my primary care physician's opinion. I bend myself backwards and into a pretzel for "important" relationships. Yet my, "They lived happily ever after," is still beyond my current horizon.
Luckily I am one of the truly lucky ones, who loves being single as much as any relationship I've ever had, often more so.
So my thoughts are skewed on this topic or perhaps I don't have the rose-colored glasses love stories have given our society. I don't know.
There is still a part of me that fantasizes lifelong love but I'm not sure an epic novel is worth giving up all the wonderful short love stories that could play out in my life.
What do you think?
Would you prefer to live a life of Hallmark movies that run ninety minutes and explore various cute meet fantasies or do you want to live in a sitcom, your life firmly connected to reality and viewing the day to day through a humorous lens?
What fills your bucket?
I talk to couples that have been together longer than I've been alive and some of them are truly happy. My great grandparents Lola and William got married on a dare, after a dance was canceled, when they were teenagers and they took care of each other until my great grandfather passed away at ninety-one. They loved each other deeply and depended on each other daily.
Theirs was a beautiful relationship but they lived out their lives in the same house.
The idea of spending the rest of my life looking at the same walls, walking the same streets every day for the rest of my life seems like a prison sentence.
I want to spend a year in Paris, a few years in Cambodia, Prague, and a hundred other places. I want to dive the depths of the ocean and hike through jungles where people haven't been in hundreds of years. I want to visit space stations and maybe even spend my final days on Mars or some other planet.
We live in an age where so much is possible, and some people only find the negative in it. So many people tell me that the internet is the reason relationships are disposable as though that is somehow bad...
Once my great grandfather got Alzheimers, he was terrified to leave us alone at the house and worried about the Indians attacking. He and my great grandmother lived through some incredible adventures. They needed each other to survive.
Today, we only stay in relationships if those relationships fulfill us. We are not locked into anything for survival and have every opportunity to be happy.
I think it is wonderful relationships fail because it means people are growing, evolving, becoming more than they once were and that some forms of behavior are no longer tolerated and will eventually be excised from our species. It means people have choices and feel safe enough to leave.
Leaving a bad relationship is powerful. Not so long ago though, that wasn't possible. Back when "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" was published in 1848, women weren't allowed any legal rights outside of their husbands' control, which made the novel an act of rebellion and a historical masterpiece.
Prior to this, most legal systems implicitly accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife, even when it ended in her death.
I still remember when divorce was taboo in the 1980's. Luckily, in the 1990's, it became more acceptable and my mother finally freed us from my father, whom while I love him dearly could not be trusted not to strike out at the slightest provocation.
I was too young to have been in kindergarten when I got a stomach ache and puked in the kitchen garbage instead of in the toilet and for that crime my father beat me severely. My father's reaction to that uncontrollable biological function enlightened the danger to my survival in my home before I was of an age to tie my shoes.
Yet despite these incidents, it wasn't until I, the youngest, was thirteen my mother finally had the courage and incentive to leave.
She feared ostracism, she feared being a single mother, but my sister's involvement in swim team forced the issue. The bruises we'd hidden were uncovered and my mother was put in a no-win situation. She either had to divorce my father or lose her children to state custody.
She came into my bedroom shaking like a leaf, her face white. She expected I would cry. She expected as my father's favorite and champion that I would be upset and broken by the news.
Looking at her face, hearing the quiver in her voice, I grew up. She told me what she was doing and I could tell she expected me to lash out, to tell her I hated her, or that I wanted to go with "Daddy," instead I said simply, "It's about time."
Her eyes widened with shock. She let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding and left my room exhausted by her fears of how I would react.
Whenever divorce statistics rise, I celebrate all the women and men finally freed from the paralyzing fear of living with a violent or mentally abusive person.
I believe our society is currently in surgery and divorce is the scalpel cutting out a cancer of unacceptable behavior.
Maybe our species will evolve to a point where life long partnerships are easier and healthy for everyone, but until then maybe our concept of "Happily Ever After," needs to be put under a microscope and examined more closely.
What do you think?
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