“Till death do us part!” Marriage is rooted in the concept of a life-long commitment between two people that so many of us aspire to have. And, although I firmly believe in the many benefits of marriage, the concept of forever might be too much pressure, and thus, detrimental to that very goal.
In the contemporary Western world, marriage is viewed as a legal and spiritual bond between two people. The history of marriage, however, tells a different story. Marriages were more business and less love in the not too far off past. It was about forming alliances between families, strengthening blood lines and, in many cases, adding to a family’s workforce. Moreover, the woman in the marriage was certainly not seen as an equal to her man.
Thankfully, things have progressed and times have changed. Women are no long viewed as property in most societies and the goal of marriage is to formalize an eternal bond with the one you love. It is why many couples today choose to write their own vows based on their goals and views about the relationship they are entering. Consequently, we have adopted a far more romantic and emotional approach to marriage.
In many instances, the progress is a good thing. Yet, using love as the predominant basis for marriage can prove to be problematic. We all know that people change over time. The things you loved about a person five years ago might be the things that get on your last nerve today. Emotions, in general, are volatile so much so that betting that your feelings about someone will be the same forty years from now is a bad bet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that forever is impossible or that it should not be a goal in marriage. I believe that it should be. However, the emphasis that we place on “making it work forever” or “staying together until we die” is so much pressure that we forget to live in and enjoy the moment. Our focus on the future deprives our present emotions and feelings of their validity.
I read a book by Eckhart Tolle titled The Power of Now, which I think prescribes a healthier way to live and to approach any relationship, particularly marriage. Instead of focusing on some far off goal; it is a better practice to live and love for today. By doing so, you are focused on your partner as they are right now. Not how they were yesterday or how they will be when they are seventy-five. More importantly, it allows you to change together and thus, allows your love for each other to change.
The presumption that you can predict forever is a false one we all know to be true. I have often seen my married friends get preoccupied in “trying to make it work” than, truly living and appreciating each other in the now. I think more marriages and committed relationships would reach forever without the pressure of thinking about it.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy!
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.