The Traditional Wedding Vows usually say the following.
I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
With the divorce rate so rampant these days, it doesn’t seem as if many people take these vows seriously. Of course, when they were written, the mortality rate was a lot lower and until death do us part might have been only ten to twenty years, if that many.
With people living and being active into their eighties and nineties, do you think it is feasible that one person could fulfill your needs through all the seasons of your life? Or, do you need or want a different type of partner when you’re young and in procreation mode than when you’re retired and in grandparent mode?
I would like to believe in the fairytale of happily ever after and have faith that if two people make promises to each other that love will allow them to move through the difficult times.
Romantic as that sounds, I think it’s possible to stand by these beliefs. However, it does require me to adjust my definition of happily ever after.
At the beginning of a relationship, romance rules and partners seem to experience unbridled exuberance. This stage is most often referred to as the honeymoon period and lasts about 12 to 18 months. This phenomenon has actually been substantiated by scientists who recently have discovered that romantic love involves chemical changes in the brain. And guess what? These changes last about 12 to 18 months! This is one of the best reasons to wait 12 to 18 months before marrying. If you still like your partner at the end of that time, your chances of having a successful relationship increase exponentially.
So – what happens after that?
Well, that’s where real love begins and, consequently, when you have to start “working” at your relationship.
For relationships to work, the partners must remain fluid as they adapt to the changing landscape of their lives and also their bodies as they age. Remember to cherish the aspects of your partner with which you fell in love. Keep them in the forefront of your mind and bury (or ignore) annoying idiosyncrasies.
Work towards collaborating vs. competing with your partner. Remember, you’re a team and a home run hit by one of you is a home run for the family. This is why relationships don’t always seem as if they are 50/50. Sometimes, you’re the star and center of attention and sometimes you play the supporting role. Whichever the configuration, it still always adds up to 100%!
Capturing that happily ever after doesn't necessarily mean that you will feel that initial exuberance every day of your marriage. A lot of marriage, as a lot of life, is simply completing tasks that need doing. The "happy" part usually comes in moments, and these need to be deposited in your memory bank so they can be withdrawn for a "pick-me-up" as needed.
Remember that keeping love alive takes a willingness on the part of both partners (and the ability to see the humor and absurdity in life). This makes it possible to have a relationships last forever.