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Real Love Requires a Commitment

Updated on December 3, 2012

“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)

Please note:

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.

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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 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.

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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.

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Pre-Commitment Quesionnaire

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

Read more of my hubs here.

"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

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  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, to each his own. I respect your right to a different opinion.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I gave this a lot of working over. I actually woke up thinkin about just this. And Irc815 you are wrong and so are so many of you commenters. Love requires nothing. I may be a millisecond or an Ice-age. Real Love is not bound by memories or eloquence or the compiling of time. It is, it will always be and this notion of committment in a temporal world is drastically simple and not part of the equation. Commitment to what? I Love and I am free, what cage binds me. Ozzie and Harriet are over. White picket fences are silly. I love and I love forever is not constrained by time.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Mike, you owe me nothing. Your comment here says it all. You have been so much more than generous and it means the world to me that you found this hub to be meaningful. Your compliments swell my heart even though I do not feel worthy of such praise. I am just one of those people who cannot write unless my heart is engaged or invested in the topic. Not everyone wants to read about emotion and I understand that too.

    You give and give to this community of writers and I appreciate all that you do. Your heart is huge and it shows in everything you write. I am proud and honored to know you. Merry Christmas Mike.

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    Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

    Linda I been through that emotional roller coaster all of my life you hub talks all about, and having to deal with the fact that my mother and father had divorced.

    So many of us worldwide have been through it and so the feeling is universal indeed, that your hub here has conveyed. The message it has for people is deeply felt by me and so sincere coming from you. I always wondered why people actually went through the whole marriage vows thing just to end it and quit so haphazardly or vice versus and especially when so many people simply get married for all the wrong reasons.

    The questions you have asked here in your hub, are all valid and the funny thing is, for those who did indeed get married for all the wrong reasons cannot answer those very questions without lying through their teeth, because quite frankly there are some pretty selfish folks that are here with us in this world.

    I think you have the potential to be a life counselor, let alone be a marriage one. You even went so far as to set the record straight here about your own family life living as a child with your parents as well, and so its easy to see why you had those questions.

    Thanks for being so kind to share this hub with us all, I do know you are a true person who cares for the likes of all others, and I hope the world and that of your readers get the message, and begin to act on it all and appropriately.

    Tremendously awesome hub here, superbly written and topped off with a touch of wanting others to love one another. Thumbs up and more.

    Happy Holidays Linda thank for all that you have done for me with sharing factors here on hubpages and I owe you many more comments like this. Can't wait to read more of your hubnuggets soon.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Shauna, you are right. I didn't mean to imply that I disagreed.

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    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    I agree Linda, but I think people don't get married these days for the right reasons. I think it's more stigma than truly embracing the doctrine.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, you're preaching to the choir girl. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I have a lot of t-shirts. But you're right. The world has changed. Roles have changed. But I also think that if it cost as much to get married as it cost to get out of one, people would think twice. I also think it's insane that a couple with no children can end a marriage for a measeley few hundred dollars. I blame lawyers for that. It shouldn't be so easy either way.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, I think today's society brings many more questions that aren't considered and aren't properly addressed in the partnership of marriage. For one, at least when I was growing up, Mom stayed at home and raised the kids. Today the mom and the dad work. Sometimes it's only the mom that works and still has to come home and play the role of the female place in the home that has never changed. That can and does lead to resentment.

    Having a husband that is not willing to strive in order to take care of the family puts a lot of stress on the woman, who is now homemaker and breadwinner. That causes stress and resentment. Where is the love if the two cannot work together for the better of the relationship and the family? What morals are they teaching their kids?

    Too many marriages these days are the result of stars in your eyes passion. When life settles into the picture, many couples can't handle it. Relationships are severed because one or the other doesn't want to deal with the reality of fantasy.

    I've been divorced twice. Both times were mainly because my priorities changed (responsibly) and the spouse's didn't. When I flat out asked my last husband to contribute to the household bills, he flatly refused. My response was "then I see no reason to continue this relationship". He did not fight me. If he loved me, he would have done whatever he could to save the marriage. We were not a partnership; I was a meal ticket. That is not love!

    In conclusion, today's society and electronic conveniences, the almighty climb up the ladder and both partners having to work outside the home, then come home and work some more have had a grave effect on the institution of marriage, let alone love. No one seems to have the time...... Sad, but true.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shiningirisheyes, it's hard to top those old school values, isn't it. We are the last of a dying breed, I'm afraid. Technology has changed the world and yet I am somewhat happy to be left behind.

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    Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Linda - The same holds true for my parents. They were together on earth until Dad passed three years ago this June. My parents had their arguments but the lesson I learned from watching them was to work harder and come together after the argument.

    I also still take habits from my upbringing. Mom and I sit down at the dinner table every evening to eat and I notice every one of my siblings homes are the same way. We talk to each other rather than having the TV blaring and its a pleasant part of the day I look forward to.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Louisa. I absolutely agree that it is possible. I think the key is to first find yourself and then enter into a relationship not out of need but rather out of choice. Great comment from you. Thanks!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Epi-man, the feeling is mutual. Now, where's that list?

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    Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

    Hi Linda, my parents were like yours. If my mother had not died 31 years after they got married, I'm sure they'd be together still. I am one of those fortunate few of my generation who is still married, and in some ways I'm still not sure of our secret. All that said, some people say that in earlier generations some women stayed in unhappy marriages for economic reasons, and that the change in women's roles in today's world has freed them, and I do think that's true. One thing I find interesting is men tend to remarry very quickly after a divorce or death, and women don't. I know a number of women who after the loss of their mate, decided never to re-partner. They like their independence too much, which I understand, but I think it's possible to be married & still have your independence. Voted up & interesting

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    epigramman 4 years ago

    ...football..... jazz .... all kinds of music .... world class writing - Linda, you are truly a renaissance woman. I am so glad I met you.

    lake erie time 12:13pm

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Epi-man! Thanks for the visit. I know this was a tough read, especially the questions. But you know, we aren't guaranteed roses and sunshine, are we? The story of your friend and her battle with breast cancer is proof that not everyone can stick it out. It's lousy, I know, but it happens more than most realize. I won't even discuss my track record with love but I can say that before I commit again, I will be confident in the answers to those questions. Well, as confident as one can be. lol

    Jazz in the evening is a good thing, I agree. I'm afraid I traded it for a football game last night and the game went my way so I am a happy girl this morning. :-)

  • epigramman profile image

    epigramman 4 years ago

    ...well Linda you have asked a lot of tough questions here. For a hub seminar about love it's actually a very tough read although you handle as usual with your world class writer's ability to provoke us and make us think and feel and with your 'gift' to communicate the written word you have moved us emotionally and intellectually.

    I haven't had much of a love life in my 54 years so I am not an expert more of a failure. But I had the love of my two best friends - my mum and my dad and many ways they made me the man I am today - and I have the love of my cats.

    Incidentally a neighbor of mine had breast cancer. She is one year older than me and her so called boyfriend of 5 years couldn't handle it and he left. What a bum - so much for love in that relationship.

    Just came home from work - listening to Oscar Peterson on the way home (I have a hour commute home) and I thank you for your visit just now and yesterday - listening to more jazz as I mellow out with a nice cuppa of chai tea and a fabulous jazz man by the name of Sonny Redd.

    Jazz is a great late night music isn''t - especially when it's raining or snowing - and sending my warm wishes and good energy to you at lake erie time 1:28pm and the full moon is on the wane over the lake

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Amy, you have made a powerful observation. We have become casual. Young girls are now on birth control at the age of 16 or 17 and still many have children by multiple fathers who are not involved in their care or their life. The 20 and 30 something generation wants it now with no strings attached. By the time you are our age, you want everything to mean something. At least I do. I guess I am a true dinosaur because I only use my microwave if my coffee gets cold. lol

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I didn't read Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation", but I know it was about our parents generation and more than likely referenced the fact that their vows actually meant "til death us do part." I divorced twice, Linda, after many years devoted to trying to make it work with both partners. I considered each of the questions you listed. But, I think it is difficult to face those facts regarding aging, health and the endless possibilities when we feel immortal in our youth. While I was married, out in the working world, I was continually surprised at the casualness attached to infidelity, among both men and women. Now, for the first time as a single, mature woman, I have had a number of men approach sex like I shouldn't care who I'm with now that I'm older, saying no one has forever, as if love has nothing to do with it. How charming! I want absolutely nothing, NOTHING, to do with any man with such an empty, hopeless attitude. My self-esteem is 100 times greater than it was in my youth. I don't need a man to value myself.

    My mom and dad were just short of their 52nd wedding anniversary when my father died suddenly 11 years ago. My mom misses him terribly every single day. I can't say I remember one school chum who came from a broken family. Today, life is fast-paced, frantic and intolerant of anything less than instant. I think this state of mind is part of the instant gratification expected in marriage that eventually destroys the union. It seems if it's not microwaveable, it's too much trouble.

    Very relevant, provocative, well written food for thought, Linda. Thank you

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Randi! Hi! Disposable, what a great concept for what happens in relationships. I'm no expert though I've had a little practice. lol Commitment is just something I see missing in so many relationships today and I can't help but think it makes a difference. Thanks for the read and the vote up. How are things in Mesa - sunny and warm?

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Angela, hug them for me. Tell 'em it's an East Coast hug from someone who thinks they are incredible. What a wonderful success story that is. If you think of their age and the events they've seen in the world in their lifetime, it's really remarkable. Thanks for sharing their story and for reading my hub and omplimenting it. I alwaysappreciate you.

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    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    This was absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful thoughts. It is very frightening to see just how :disposable" people become when others don't respect or value them. Up+

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    Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

    Excellent Hub on an important subject. I'll attend a combination 85th birthday, 92nd birthday and 67th anniversary party for a couple I know in our little town. Has life been easy for them -- no -- but they've seen it through and are both so excited about celebrating their landmark 67th anniversary (and living to celebrate both birthdays). I find them true American heroes -- and we need more of them! Thanks for a great read! Best/Sis

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MH, we all have our secrets, don't we? We all make mistakes and we all have baggage. I haven't met a perfect person yet. Sometimes, a relationship just can't be worked out. Sometimes, if both parties are willing, all that "stuff" can be worked through. I wrote this one because I think it's just too darn easy to give up and not think about the consequences, especially when children are involved. You're a good man; never doubted it.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dear Faith, I love seeing you in my comments. You always make me feel good. I hear ya loud and clear. Few marriages are perfect and God knows we all have our baggage. I honestly think the answer is that lawyers and the law have made it so easy to get divorced that people don't try very hard to work it out. With no kids involved a few hundred dollars will get you out and on the hunt again. It's just crazy. I stayed in my last marriage for a long time, trying to work it out. He traded me for the freedom to drink and, for another woman, who ironically, I have become friends with. Strange, I know, but life is short and I won't live it being angry, jealous, or worrying about what might have been. I've got my sights on today and tomorrow and I have found my peace. Congratulations to you for sticking it out for 34 years. He knows he's got a good thing. :-)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, hey! It's good to hear from you and especially to hear how happy you are. Sometimes ending it is the best thing to do because we do make mistakes sometimes in the heat of the passion. Or, we simply grow apart. I'm not opposed to divorce when people have tried to work it out and just can't. There's nothing like being with the right one, is there? Congratulations on finding her and, for appreciating what you have. That's half the battle. Happy holidays, if I don't spot you on HP before then.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello lovedoctor926! Welcome to my kaleidoscope here on HP. I am happy to meet you and appreciate your comment. People walk out of relationships for a host of reasons and I just wish that they would try a bit harder to remember why they made the commitment in the first place. It's easy to leave but it's difficult to work through problems. But, sometimes it's worth it. Congratulations on enjoying your freedom.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    Very, very good! But easy for me to say from this side of the journey. I took my vows serious ("do you martin...etc.), as did Arlene. Overall, our tine together was better than a dream. Yet, behind our beautiful love story are some horrible secrets. Bless you and may you never feel our pain.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    Linda!!!

    You can come up with the best subjects for a hub no doubt, and this one is very thought-provoking and necessary to point out that, especially in today's society, it seems as though people are still marrying, but just in a year or two, or maybe even in a couple of weeks or months ---divorce time. You have given the answer right here, commitment, no doubt one bit. However, who wants to truly commit with what that truly entails? I have been married for 34 years and, of course, it has been no picnic the whole time, as there is always that old baggage (although I was 19) we all bring into a relationship that must be dealt with, and then financial issues, etc., and then just life itself, and our own selfish desires . . . but I made a vow and so here I still am all these years later. All of this is to be expected, and I just do not know if today people are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses or that it is just too easy to get divorced? I have no answers, except as you state, true commitment, as one does make a vow when one marries, and if not taken seriously, then it would be easy to just walk away. Now, I am not talking about any other person's situation, especially abuse, etc., but just the fact that when another younger more attractive one comes along, then out goes the wife. Heck, my husband could trade me in for two 25 year olds, but he has his hands full with the one ---me. LOL I love how you added all those important questions too, and the video of course is a given.

    Voted up++++ and sharing.

    In His Love, Faith Reaper

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    Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Strange, I have been through a divorce and am now a happy decade into a wonderful marriage with a wonderful child. And now I get a peaceful easy feeling because where we are at now is timeless. While the passion is there, there is that knowing that "no matter what" really means it.

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    lovedoctor926 4 years ago

    Excellent hub. thought provoking questions. My parents have been married for 40 years so just like your parents, marriage was a commitment for life. And yes, you're right! The world has changed bigtime. The majority of single men don't want the responsibilities of a commitment. Are you kidding? I have my standards raised very high these days. And no, not looking for a guy with money either. I don't need to. I come from a family where we're used to going out to dinner every weekend and on special events such as graduations, birthdays, holidays etc. I don't need a man to pay for my meal, but I know what you mean. Some people walk away from a relationship when there is conflict or some sort of problem and instead of working out their differences, they go out and seek someone new.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    lol...I understand.

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    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I do know that.....just checking emails....if I don't I have like eighty waiting for me in the evening. :)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, why are you on the computer? This is your afternoon off, isn't it?

    Well, since you're here, thanks for reading this one. It's not very creative but is something that has been nagging for a while. When my cousin went through his wife's treatment and ultimate death from breast cancer, I thought about his a lot. The woman he married vanished, right in front of his eyes. His lover never waivered though and it was beautiful to watch. I thought of all those (like me) who gave up so easily and wondered what would it take to change that. So, today was the day. I appreciate you - but you already know that. :-)

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    You are right of course. Our parents' generation may have been the last. Divorce is over 50% now, and commitment is the reason in many instances. Your questions are valid for sure. It is so easy to fall in love; staying in love takes a hell of a lot of work.

    Great topic and coverage! Well done Linda!