We all get married expecting that we are in our forever relationship; our relationship that won’t end until we die in our sleep at age 102. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? The reality is, that’s probably not a high statistic (unless you live in one of the blue zones.)
Before I get into why I think it’s unrealistic to expect any relationship to be a forever relationship, I want to explain something. I’m not a bitter, angry, cynical person. I can’t be. I published 4 romance novels! I cry happy tears at every movie scene that involves the couple ending up together, I strive to see the good in everything and everyONE as much as I can, and I am always hopeful for happy endings in real life, too. I’m also a complete mess at weddings.
But what I’m starting to realize as I get older is, I’m somewhat of a realist when it comes to relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but platonic friendships and girl friendships, too.
You might tell someone “I will love you forever” and then there is a chance that you might change your mind, like 50% of the population does (or 72% of the second marriage population) and realize you fell out of love, or he fell out of love with YOU and now you don’t know how you feel, but you know in your heart you can’t love someone anymore who doesn’t love you.
Here’s what I want to say about forever relationships. I think it’s okay if “forever” doesn’t turn out to be forever. I think that it’s important to live and love each moment with the person you love. Because, you never know when it’s going to end. AND, you shouldn’t really care. Love for today. For tonight. Not for next year, or for the next 50 years.
I have a friend who thought she had an amazing marriage. It lasted for 27 years. I used to run into them kissing in a store in our neighborhood. They seemed really, really happy. He left her and married the woman he left her for. Understandably, my friend was devastated. “I can’t believe I wasted all these years living a marriage that was a lie,” she would say.
I don’t see her situation that way at all. I think that she had a great life with a man she loved dearly for decades. I think he loved her, too, and I think he left because of his own problems and issues. I would say to her, “Can’t you look back and appreciate all of the great times you had for 27 years?”
I know it’s easy for me to say that because I’m not her. And, I understand how utterly heartbroken, devastated, and angry she was. But truly, I think people should try to think that NOTHING is ever a waste. Every relationship teaches us. It brings something to our table. It educates us, or shows us qualities we’d like to have for ourselves that we then obtain. And we learn things about ourselves that we like and don’t like so much. And, we get memories. Glorious memories that are sometimes heart stopping and make us feel giddy and happy when we look back.
Nothing lasts forever applies to friendships, too. Think of the phrase,“Best friends forever.” Again, it’s a sweet thing to say but totally unrealistic. Things change. People change. Circumstances change. Of course, I am still best friends with my high school friends, but that’s an exception that I feel incredibly blessed by.
Once I had a close girlfriend who stopped calling me, stopped making plans with me, and stopped returning my calls. I have absolutely no clue what I did. I called and left her a message asking her that and got no call back. I was upset about it, I cried, and I was angry. She took her friendship away without asking me. It felt sort of like getting dumped by a boyfriend you thought really cared about you.
If someone asked me , “Do you wish you’d never have met her?” I would say “no way.” I learned from her. I had fun with her. I respected her immensely. I laughed with her. She came to every book signing I ever had. I supported her through a really rough time. Why would I want to erase that?
In closing, I will say this about expecting a forever relationship. Saying, “I will love you forever” is okay. It’s wonderful, actually. It feels safe and permanent. It’s lovely to hear and it means commitment. So, even if a relationship or a friendship falls short of forever, just appreciate the fact that someone said it to you. And remember how you felt during your time knowing that person. Treasure each memory like a jewel.
One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “That’s life.” He really is right about that. Stop aiming for forever and just be happy for what you have now. And guess what? Now might turn into forever. Assume it will and don’t worry about it!