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Real Love Requires a Commitment
“In today's world of self-obsession, marriage remains a sacrosanct and unequivocal expression of commitment. Marriage is not just a union of two people. It is a confluence of values, culture, and traditions. And this is especially true when the two people getting married hail from diverse backgrounds. Marriage can work only when the couple in love is fully aware of the differences and is willing to work around them.” – John Lyly (English Poet)
Any reference to "marriage" in this hub can be translated to mean "partnership". The topic is commitment in relationships and is intended to include domestic partnerships and same sex marriages.
It’s easy to quit, to walk away, turn your back, and forget. Many of us have done it, maybe more than once. At the time, it seemed easier to walk away than to stay. So, we walked. Did we stop and ask ourselves – “is this love real”? Sometimes we look back, wondering if it was the right decision but ultimately decide that it’s too late to change so we move on. What if it wasn’t too late? What if the love was real but we let our pride get in the way? What if we just did not work hard enough? What if?
The world has changed since I grew up. Duh! I guess that’s not such a profound statement considering I’ve been here for almost (yes, I said almost) sixty years.
My parents will soon celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary. Although I find that wonderful and worthy of celebration, I do not see it as odd. That’s what the people of their generation did. They got married for life, for better for worse; in sickness and in health; till death they do part. Marriage was a commitment that was purposeful, with a promise of forever.
My parents built a strong foundation
- A 60's Childhood Remembered - Part 1 - Foundations
The first in a series called
My parents faced many challenges in their life together but in all their 63 years, I have never heard one of them threaten to leave the other. In fact, I’ve honestly never heard them argue. I am sure they have, but, they consciously chose never to do it in front of their children. I never heard them making love either but obviously they did. They had two children and I don’t think we were adopted. The physical act of lovemaking just wasn’t something they felt children needed to hear so they wrapped their love in mystery and did “it” when we weren’t in the house. My parents had a commitment to be good parents that were equally as strong as their commitment to their marriage.
When I look at society today, I sometimes think I was raised in a fantasy world. But, I wasn’t. The neighborhood I grew up in was a new development and most of the families who lived there were like my family. They were hard working, young families, with parents who were committed to their spouse, their children, their church, and their jobs. Not one of those families gave up on any of those commitments. There were no divorces among those parents. Each remained true to their commitment and their children were the benefactors. The kids I grew up with are all responsible, mature adults, making a decent wage and raising families of their own with the same values passed down from their parents. Can they tout the same success in their marriages? No, some have experienced the trauma of divorce. I think my parent’s generation is the last of a dying breed.
The World Has Changed
So does real love still exist? I believe it does but it takes more work these days to last and most are not willing to do the work. The stress in today’s world is different than in my parent’s generation too. Jobs are harder to find and harder yet to keep. The economy has changed and it takes more to do less. And, technology has changed the way we communicate. Where we once chatted around the dinner table, now we text or email all day, leaving little to say around the table. Family dinners are becoming a thing of the past with everyone running a race against the clock. Our dinner table has become little more than a focal point for our decor or, the resting place for junk mail.
Children are driven to compete in sports or electronic games, while also belonging to clubs and taking music or dance lessons. They have no spare time. Parents are driven to fit in with the elite to achieve social status. Somewhere along the way, it appears that we began to place more value on social acceptance than on family.
I have confessed to being a student of life. All that really means is that I observe and question almost anything and everything. Along the way I began to look at the number of divorces among my friends and co-workers and I found myself wondering why commitment meant so little. Questions started flowing through my gray matter like water over a dam. As a seeker of solutions, I began to formulate a list of questions that I thought every young couple should answer before taking the vows of marriage. It went something like this.
- Will you love me when my hair is gray and my body wrinkled? It’s easy to fall in love with a tight, muscle clad body, beautiful skin and eyes that sparkle. But those are the gifts of youth. Aging happens to all of us and the lights in our eyes fade, the muscles relax, the skin hangs in folds in places we didn’t know we had. Understanding this, will you commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if tragedy strikes and I find myself in a wheelchair, unable to walk? When you pledged your love, you pledged to “walk” through life with a person who could walk beside you. Is the commitment strong enough to push that wheelchair day after day, not being able to hold the hand or look into the eyes of the one you love? Would you still commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if my face and body are scarred beyond recognition from a fire or other tragic accident? Attraction is a hormonal or visual response to someone’s appearance or chemistry. Love grows from that attraction. What if that appearance changed drastically and – forever? Does love exist in your heart or in your head? Would you still commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if I become ill and I can no longer nurture you or carry my weight in our relationship? Relationships grow and with that growth, we grow to expect certain things from each other. We plan life around our skills and abilities. We expect to share the responsibility of home and family but, a terminal or long term illness can prevent one from fulfilling their responsibility. Is there enough love to push through without resentment or anger? Would you still commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if my personality changes, if I become depressed or if my memories of you fade? Many things in life can alter our personalities. It may be a mental illness or witnessing a violent crime or, dementia that comes later in life but these are events that can change who we are. Would you still commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if cancer steals my hair and leaves me bald and without my breasts? Loving someone through cancer treatment is painful and grueling. The life once filled with activity and joy is now filled with appointments and fear. The physical body may no longer be recognizable and hope for the future overshadowed by fear or grief. Will you still commit for a lifetime?
- Will you love me if I have to go away and leave you alone for a long time? When commitments are made, it is often without thought to the ‘what ifs’. The military might take a spouse away for months at a time or, God forbid, a wrongful conviction could result in a stint in prison. Will you still commit for a lifetime?
We have the power but will we commit?
Perhaps if we were to ask these questions prior to making a commitment, more relationships would be built on a solid foundation that would last a lifetime. I think the dream of every child is to grow up in a home where they feel secure, with parents who are committed for life. Children are born trusting and innocent. They love easily and see the world as a beautiful playground. Perhaps if adults took commitment more seriously, fewer children would grow up worrying about being separated by divorce. If adults really made lifelong commitments and worked a little harder to make love last, would we raise children that are more grounded and less susceptible to peer pressure, substance abuse, bullying, and anger? It starts with love, requires a commitment, and results in a brighter future for our children.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.
"You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one". – John Lennon