When I got married, I promised to love my husband for forever and he promised the same. Nothing was supposed to change. He and I were supposed to ride off into the sunset or perhaps, suburbia, for happiness eternal. Sure, I knew there would be bumps along the way but my love and his love was a guarantee.
That is, until we started divorce proceedings.
The two years that this choice was in the making (deciding whether to stay together or separate; all the marriage counseling rounds and separations), I felt very far from my marital vows. I felt he was very far from his marital vows. Most days, I felt I was invisible to him and had a hard time remembering what it felt like when we were lying on the beach on our honeymoon, blissfully happy.
We didn’t last forever. We didn’t ride off into suburbia to make a forever family. We lasted a total of five married years (what would be our sixth anniversary is coming up) and together for almost eight. Those numbers? Well, they don’t add up to forever.
I’m not saying I’m bitter and will never love again.
I’m a hopeless romantic who lives for happy endings (not the massage parlor kind although hey, I’m not against them) and fairytale sunsets, but my perspective on love has greatly changed.
I will never, ever promise forever to anyone. I don’t care if he’s got a six-pack, reads Shakespeare, plays guitar, tickles my back and plays with my hair every day, reads my work, gives oral like a pro and feeds me chocolate and grapes.
I won’t promise forever.
Why would I promise anyone— why would anyone promise anyone—forever?
Back in the days, we lived shorter lives but today? We have longevity for the most part. But no matter how long your stay is on this planet, promising someone forever is futile. Here’s why.
1. It’s null and void if your spouse treats like you sh*t.
You go and smile with your ring on your finger and say, “Yes dear, I will love you forever,” promising whole-heartedly to be by that person’s side for good, no matter what. However, I have a problem with the whole “to-death do us part” section of the vows. What if that person up and starts to take you for granted or worse, treats you terribly?
Typically, if you marry a great person he or she will stay great, but life happens. To me, committing to someone is a daily choice. Each day you wake up you say, “I want to be with you for another day.” If you promise forever and end up with a not-so-great catch, the idea is that you’re stuck with this fool forever — til death do you part.
Sorry not sorry but I will never tell someone til death do us part. I will say, “as long as you continue to love me and love yourself, I will wake up each day and make the choice to still love you.” I won’t place a Mrs. in front of my name or rock a diamond on my hand for forever if someone decides to up and change and do me dirty. I love myself and my daughter for forever, but you my friend? You have to be good, otherwise game over.
2. It’s simply not realistic.
To say forever is a mighty long time. What if your partner passes before you do? Do you then suffer “old school style” and wear black for eternity? No, I don’t think so. Instead, you find a looker or a great conversationalist at the elderly home and you two snuggle up. Do you really want to pass up a good Bingo partner because you promised forever? Not this broad.
3. It’s a cop-out.
It’s way too easy to utter the words “I will be with you for forever.” To love someone is to continuously consider his or her feelings, look past the person’s shortcomings and often, make that person a top priority in your life and care for him or her if your partner ends up ill. Instead of just saying, “I promise to love you for forever,” why not offer a promise to work on loving that person for the time you are both together? Because yes ma’am or sir, love can be work. It’s wonderful and magical, indeed, but it also takes a lot of elbow grease to keep the relationship wheels spinning.
4. Love isn’t meant to last a lifetime.
You could have an amazing love with someone … for a season and for a reason. Maybe this person gets you through a dark time in your life but later on down the line, it’s not a sustainable partnership for whatever reason. Or during college, graduate school, a diet, a job change, or a death of a loved one, you could endure major life changes that perhaps only one person who’s going through the same situation as you can understand. You two may love each other for just a season, but not for eternity!
Love comes in so many different forms and times in our life. Not everyone can be a lifetime love.
So what am I saying?
I’m not saying I won’t commit to someone or wish and hope for that lifetime love. Of course, I would love to meet someone I could grow old with and change our diapers together when we’re ancient. Still, I won’t blindly promise to be by someone’s side for forever. Instead, I will promise to work on loving him and myself every day so that I get to enjoy that person for another blissful day.
The moral of this story? Love is earned, not guaranteed.