What are the pros and cons of looking at marriage as forever? And how can you personally engage in one of the biggest commitments of your life without falling into someone else’s programming, but also without hedging your bets and thinking you always have an out? Find out in this week’s episode.
Question from Heather – Hawaii
“Can you please clarify on why we shouldn’t be striving to stay in a marriage forever?
Backstory: I just finished listening to your latest episode about the point of marriage and it really triggered me. Here is why…you do all these amazing podcasts talking about long term relationship and how to make it better and grow not only as an individual but as a couple.. why wouldn’t you want that for the rest of your life? What is the point of trying to sustain a long term relationship when your goal is 10 years or maybe 20 and then you reevaluate… It seems to me that means giving up. Why wouldn’t you strive for forever or 50 years? If you have a partner that is willing to grow and change with you the entire time why wouldn’t that be your goal. Why would you ever put into the universe otherwise. Why would we work so hard at having a great long term relationship only to have in the back of our minds this isn’t forever. That seems like a bit of a fear of commitment still because in your mind you already have an out. To me that would be a great challenge to sustain a great relationship for 50 years. It would be work yes for sure but well worth it. I am not talking about staying just to say you made it that far I am of course talking about being truly fulfilled for that entire time and always growing to be your best selves.”
Should we be all-in forever? [1:00]
When moving on is a good thing [7:00]
How being overzealous about your commitments can backfire [8:00]
The difference between being ‘all-in’ and being locked-in [11:00]
I’d like to offer a couple of potential challenges to this idea that marriage is a long term relationship until it no longer serves us or we outgrow it. There are two angles I want to bring up.
The first is the idea that one of the reasons we are here is to learn unconditional love. Probably one of the hardest things imaginable is the process of learning to love unconditionally, without simply being passive or “putting up” or any of that other relational b.s. Any areas where we still have conditions in love are areas where we have limits to our love. Saying “I’ll all-in for this relationship until such time if and when I’ve changed to the point that I’ve outgrown it,” is the same as really saying “I will only love you under certain circumstances or conditions”. If you leave a relationship because you’re no longer the same person, all you’re really saying is, “I don’t want the challenge of still trying to relate to you when I feel I’m a different person”. Not only are you setting limits on your capacity to love, you are also setting limits on your ability to handle challenges and to grow.
The second is a deeper cut than the first, and relates to people who just “stick it out” because they’ve made a commitment to marriage. It’s true as you say that this is brutally hard on our bodies and immune systems over time. What is also true is that the way other people relate to us is always a deep reflection of our unfelt and unintegrated emotional experiences and wounding from the past. Anyone who feels that they’re stuck in a relationship, even one where their partner used to be “all-in” and totally committed to personal growth and development, needs to be willing to sit and face the sensations within themselves. The call is to be more present, to go into one’s own experience more deeply, to stay in contact with the sensations or the pain, and to bit-by-bit feel them until they let go on their own. If we simply put up with the relationship, I agree we’re merely honouring a commitment without regard for the consequences to ourselves, and we betray ourselves. However, if we bail because our partner’s not showing up or treating us as we like, we’ve lost an opportunity to heal ourselves more deeply.
hi Craig, I realize this is comment is a few years late, and apologise for that. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings around marriage and commitment, it’s great food for thought and I will definitely sit with your remarks. Thanks for tuning in =)