Monday, 28 January 2013

Love and Marriage

It may seem hypocritical to some, given that I have recently ended a 32 year marriage, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about how I view relationships and marriage. There are some who would contend I don't know about keeping a marriage together; there are others who recognize the challenge of keeping a marriage together for all those years.

It's interesting how we view marriage success. If I could have held my marriage together for a few more years, I would have left my ex-wife a widow instead of a divorcee. Many would have seen the marriage as a success. After all, it would have been until "death do you part". It's as if the only true measure of marriage success is duration, quantity over quality. That's kind of sad.

Marriage starts with relationship, one based in love. Love and life is complicated. It's messy. It's confusing. It can be easy and it can be hard and it can be all of these things at the same time. It takes two and while it can be strong it can also be fragile. It needs to be nurtured and at the same time it needs to grow naturally. It needs passion and it needs calm. It can be wonderful and it can be fraught with pain. It needs patience and care, kindness and consideration, honesty and openness.

I have always felt that love should be enough; if you really loved someone you would put all your efforts into supporting them and making a life together, one that was worth living. In my mind, that life would be one where the needs of the other person would be first in my mind, where my first thought would be of what I could do to support and uphold my life partner and vice versa.

Part of the problem is with that word "partner". It's really a business term. A partner is someone with whom you share business and financial goals, but you don't necessarily have to work together to accomplish those goals. What I want in a relationship is an ally.

Allies fight for each other, allies share resources and work together to win at life's battles. Allies join those battles on each other's behalf, fighting together, in one another's stead, protecting each other. I don't just want a partner; I want an ally, someone for whom my first thought would be how to defend and uphold that person, someone by whose side I would fight and who would fight for me first, someone whom I would put before any and everyone else, someone whom I would have at the top of my list and who would stay at the top of my list no matter who or what else was on that list. And I would want someone who would willingly and earnestly do the same for me.

Loving someone should be a gift freely given, something with no strings, with an open heart and hand. The heart will carry the spirit and the hand will share the burdens of life. That open-hearted willingness knows its boundaries and limits, but they apply to self, not the other person. In other words, if I love someone, I don't set their boundaries or limits; I respect them in others and trust in the love of the other person to respect them in me.

If someone says they love me, it means they accept me as I am, where I am for who I am. They respect my thoughts and feelings. They may not like some things about me sometimes, but they accept me as a whole person, they way I am, without change. If someone says "I love you" but insists I do things their way or think like they do, what they are really saying is "I love you with conditions." That's not love, that's control. Love has no conditions.

The real challenge is in marriage. It is the art of concessions and cooperation, the willingness to see the other person's view and love them even when you disagree with them. Marriage is the willingness to suspend my own needs to meet another person's needs. That's hard to do and it has to go both ways; both people have to love one another enough to give freedom as a gift. Marriage is not getting control, it's losing it willingly.

It is unlikely that I will ever have the opportunity to marry again. It's too bad; I would like to think I could have done a better job the second time round.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent thoughts on love and marriage Richard. We should all follow this path. Sometimes itis difficult to be that perfect in thought and deed. Your message is a road map to a happy married life.