True Love Always Lasts A Lifetime……Really?

I came upon these two Swans on my walk in the park yesterday, I didn't want to disturb them since they were guarding their nest

I came upon these two Swans on my walk in the park yesterday, I didn’t want to disturb them since they were guarding their nest

By Kenneth Justice

We’ve all heard the narrative a million times.. Perhaps you’re out on a walk with a friend and you spot a swan like I did yesterday, maybe you just finished watching The Noteboook or A Walk To Remember with your significant other and they have tears streaming down their face….

At some point in your life someone has said, “Ya know, swans mate for life….isn’t that so beautiful!”

With rising divorce rates, increases in the number of intimate partners one has in a lifetime, and the overall low percentage of couples who stick together for a long time; it would seem that swans have somehow surpassed humans on the evolutionary ladder when it comes to lasting love……or have they?

Have we humans been sold a false bill of goods by Hollywood romantic comedies?

When I was younger very few of the romance films that were being produced showed the relationship after the romance period;

In Sleepless in Seattle (one of my favorite films, I admit it) the credits start rolling just as Meg & Tom are about to go on their first date.

In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, we only actually experience 10 days of the relationship between Kate Hudson & Matthew McConaughey.

It wasn’t until recently that films like This is 40 and American Beauty garnered enough attention to show the monotonous elements of long-term relationships.

A walk through the woods always allows me the time to reflect on life

A walk through the woods always allows me the time to reflect on life

So what is a teenager to think? Should they buy into the swan story; that love can last a lifetime? Or, are we setting them up for disappointment?

In my short time here on earth I have had at least 5 people tell me, “If I had known what my spouse was really like before the wedding…I would have never married them“.

As humans, do we really have the psychological makeup to make a relationship last till we die? Are expectations like that unrealistic?

I’ve also heard more times than I care to remember, from clients and acquaintances, “We are only staying married for the sake of the children; once the youngest graduates school we will get divorced“…..how sad is that? It doesn’t seem like the healthiest of relationships does it?

malard 1

As humans, do we really have the psychological makeup to make a relationship last till we die? Are expectations like that unrealistic?

So there I am walking through the park, seeing all the wildlife and I come across those two swans and I wonder to myself, what do they represent?

Do those swans represent the failures of humanity or do they represent unrealistic ideals?

I’ve had many clients and friends tell me that you have to have sex with the person before you marry to find out if your compatible…..

While that makes a lot of sense on certain levels, what happens when your significant other’s appetite for sex changes a few years into the marriage?

What happens when your signification other changes….and we all change as we get older; our personality, our motivations, who we are as an individual changes as we go through the different seasons and experiences of life.

canadian goose

What happens when your signification other changes….and we all change as we get older…

So what do we tell our children? Do we tell them when they find their true love it will be a lasting relationship that only death can untangle?

Or do we tell our children that life is about different seasons, different experiences; when we are younger we will find true love in places that we won’t find it when we are older?

Whether we’re men or women love and sex are front and central in our minds; love and sex are everywhere we go in Western Culture; some might argue we overemphasize those concepts. Yet, whether bad or good, love and sex affect our lives deeply.

The people we date, the people we love, the people we sleep with, and the people we marry and the people we divorce will each leave some kind of lasting impression on our lives…..what kind of impression do we want it to be?



Categories: Really???, relationships

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85 replies

  1. They (the swans) represent the infinite possibilities for humanity.

  2. I don’t even know what the ideal is even supposed to be any more. In truth, there shouldn’t be an ‘ideal’ but there are always going to be conventions and peer pressure to conform. As humans, most of us are hard-wired to want a mate for life – and as such, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing that. However, it’s clear that most of us rush in to making that commitment and that not enough of us go in to it with our eyes wide open… it almost always takes work and compromise to last the distance.

    • Mark, I completely agree…..

      I wonder if we are setting children, teens, even adults, up for failure when we pose to them ideals that are from yesteryear………..

    • We are… I just don’t know if there’s a solution to changing the way almost the whole of society thinks and behaves. The ideals are inherent. However, those of us that think differently should aim to instill ideals of free thinking in our own children, as much as we can.

    • Agreed. Love your honesty.

  3. I agree with beautifulorange, marriage takes work and compromises from both sides, it takes patience and hardships, but in the long run, especially when we get older and the children has left, we will come to appreciate the meaning of living together, we will appreciate the friendship and loyalty of our spouse more than sex 🙂

  4. The thing with the swans is that they don’t shop around, they don’t have memories or experiences to gauge other swans with, they are brought together and those are their first memories of the relationship, the rest of their lives are spent together, protecting each other, continuing the family line, providing for each other…
    This was the original design for human marriage. We can learn a lot from swans.

  5. Ha! I gave up on this whole topic of love a long time ago. Love of a mate does not exist in my world. It didn’t even exist in my world when I was married.
    As far as what to tell my kid. I think that scares me the most than any other thing I have to teach him because I KNOW he will get hurt eventually and it will take all my the self restraint in my being to not go ape shit on whoever does do that to my boy.
    But then again, it might not happen and if I teach him to “choose wisely” he may find someone compatible to him. I can only hope.

  6. Human beings have destroyed the definition of love and have unknowingly stamped their idea of what ‘lovey dovey’ should feel like. Sad world to find love. I bet those Swans laugh at us Humans. The jokes on HUMANity

  7. The greatest incentive to achieve something is to have an ideal to strive for. If you fail, you fail, but you will get a lot further than if you had no idea to begin with. We taught our children that a lifelong committed relationship was an ideal worth pursuing, and so far so good, but we know and they know that people can’t always achieve what they want. You just do your best and pray and trust God to help. Divorce is not always the worst that can happen; sometimes divorce is the best you can do to cope with a bad situation.
    What concerns me is that if we have no ideal for marriage then we will perfectly achieve exactly that – nothing worth bragging about. Let’s not start out expecting mediocre on the grounds that it is better to not be disappointed. The way I read Ecclesiastes is that in a world of vanity and entropy and sorrow and pain, there are exactly two things that can make a man happy: good work to do, and a good marriage. Some never get either one, but what else is there in this life that is worth having?

    • Carroll,

      interesting thoughts and many of my college Psyche prof’s would love what you said 🙂

      “Good work to do and a good marriage (relationship)”

  8. I have been very fortunate to meet a good number of couples through my work who have been married 60+ years, some even over 70 years! In all these situations, they tell me that it hasn’t always been easy, but in the long run, it has been worth it. The key I see is that they put God’s love first, know that some difficulties and conflicts in marriage (raising kids, job loss, etc.) just need to be gotten through and managed. The difficult times have helped to bring them closer together! Some others are on second marriages, saying they are fortunate with having had two good marriages (the first spouse having died). It has a lot to do with what we expect from ourselves and others. There are definitely times to get out of any relationship, but sometimes – like with everything – it just needs a little work and perseverance. I pray that my husband and I can celebrate, 50, 60 even 70 years together!!!

    • I agree! A good relationship/marriage just needs a little work and perseverance. Like most things worth doing in life, it’s not easy, but well worth every bit of work put into it. I know it doesn’t seem to be the “norm” any more, but the possibility for a long lasting and happy marriage still exists. I hold onto that hope as I see some couples around me, like you have told us about, that have been together 40, 50, 60, etc years and are still in love. It wasn’t easy, never truly is, but it’s something they knew was worth it. They came from a time when you didn’t just walk away at the first sign of trouble, when you worked together to make your marriage work. I know that is still possible today and I teach my son that anything worth having, doing in life will require patience, hard work, and compromise. Friendships are just like that too and it’s sad to see some throwing away long term friendships over little things. Any relationship is hard work, whether it’s with family, friends, your significant other, your co-workers, etc…..and we must learn more on how to work together.

    • Ramblings,

      it seems there is a theme i’m seeing in the responses…’a good relationship/marriage is hard work’…I wonder if our society underestimates the full extent of what is meant by ‘hard work’

    • Oh I have little doubt that society does in fact underestimate it. :/ Many today want to take the “easy way” through life, when things get tough, so many bail. That however is not how I was raised. My boyfriend and I have only been together for six months, but in that six months…we’ve already faced a lot and learned early what it means to be together through thick and thin. I hope to one day, many years from now, be able to look at people the young ones and tell them how he and I have made it. We give of ourselves to one another, accept one another for who we are, stand beside one another through tough times, make one another laugh…and I really think that is often underestimated, the power of laughter….we tell one another how it is….no sugarcoating, but not being an ass about things either, we compromise when we can, and when we can’t….we agree to disagree and not let petty things get to us, we communicate, we share, we push one another to be our best, we’re best friends, and we love one another with all we have. I know I can be like the old couples I have known, still picking on one another, being feisty with one another, still holding hands, still being there for one another come what may….proving to the young ones, proving to the skeptics that true love does exist and that a successful and happy marriage can be had.

    • Sfriant,

      “It has a lot to do with what we expect from ourselves and others”….

      there is a lot to think about in that statement of yours 🙂

  9. Some very acute observations. Happily, or luckily, my wife and I have been together 22 years. For us, when romance gave way to reality we pressed on with this personal value: you stay because you said you would. Marriages need maintenance just like houses or landscapes. With investment and creativity, that work can be more than a keep-it-standing effort. Think remodel or add-on or redesign. 🙂

  10. I want to be old and holding my wife’s hand when she is recovering from surgery when we are 80 and to be more in love with her than ever. I want that love between us, then, to make our naive puppy 20-something love look like a joke. I want to be like the goose.

  11. i think you ask some very good questions but none are all that easy to answer. there are some great comments here and i certainly can understand getting jaded about relationships after so many failed ones – trust me i know that first hand, though i can’t bring myself to totally give up on love because i have seen successful relationships – just because they haven’t been my own doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. i do think movies help create unrealistic expectations but then again they are ONLY for entertainment. if we’re truly the smartest species on the planet why are we so incapable of separating fantasy from reality? its hard to blame media for things we should be able to do. that said, i think the number of failed relationships are not just about unrealistic movies. i think as a society we’ve changed. i hear more and more people say well humans were NOT meant to be monogamous so why marry? i think that train of thought is contributing to so called open marriages and polyamorous relationships – both of which i think are total hogwash. to me that just represents immaturity and a lack of commitment. other creatures are just programed for certain things. we may not be hardwired to be monogamous BUT we can make the choice to be so but that takes effort and seems like people aren’t as interested in that effort anymore. seems to me relationships are harder because people have changed – their willingness to “stick it out” isn’t there because so many want instant gratification – hence the love of fast food – they want it fast and cheap. people seem to think relationships are the same. i think people mistake “maintenance” of a relationship for being “it shouldn’t have to take work.” Those two things are not the same. no a relationship shouldn’t be forced or it won’t work -that too happens these days, but they, like any other nonromantic relationship, needs some TLC. people get comfortable and forget that once in a while you need a date night or need to make an effort to make sure your partner feels secure in the relationship. we think once we get to “the end” that that’s it. how much of that is due to movies and how much of that is just ingrained in us because the end goal is marriage and since you got there there’s nothing left to do, i don’t know. now this doesn’t take into account any relationships that need to end for whatever reason – that’s another story. anyway, that’s just what i’ve seen with myself, others, etc.

    • Jen,

      It does seem that defining oneself as ‘polyamrous’ is a bit extreme (although I’m not judging those people)…

      and I agree with you that movies are just entertainment, yet over the years they have become such a centerpiece to Western Culture that they are now more influential than most other art forms.

      For instance, I would argue that for the average person in America or Europe, their view of history has been entirely impacted by films they’ve seen; Schindler’s List (my favorite), Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, etc.

      Thus, even though movies are made to entertain, they are shaping our minds and ideals whether we want them too or not….

      great thoughts btw 🙂

    • well i suppose its true to not recognize pop culture’s influence would be denial and that’s never good – i just don’t think it’s good to say that’s the only reason for things. its a vicious cycle – the media reflects what society is like and society reflects what’s in the media. and thanks! i try for good thoughts… bad ones seem pointless haha 🙂

    • Jen, I completely agree with you….pop culture/media isnt the only explanation…its definitely a lot deeper 🙂 and your right on that the media…especially the arts reflect what’s going on in the culture.

      One of my favorite professors would say, “if you want to know about a society, look at its art”

  12. A very thoughtful post. I’ve given the longevity of marriage a lot of thought lately. I’ve been married for almost 24 years, but my husband was not my first love, nor was I his. We did live together for three years before marrying because we simply wanted to. Marriage came when we realized that we truly trusted each other. We’ve never had children, but we have gone through a lot of changes and they haven’t always been easy. I think we are still together because at the least we are friends (and, yes, friends with benefits). He is the first person I want to share my thoughts and my experiences with. He is the first person I go to when I need to make a difficult decision. We’ve watched helplessly as family members get divorced for reasons of “incompatibility.” It’s painful and we never know what to say. Why our marriage works for us may not work for other people. I do know I didn’t have any romantic notion of marriage. After living together for three years, I felt pretty confident that I knew what marriage with him would be like. But that was also because I didn’t expect him to suddenly develop different expectations of me or us, and he didn’t. While we’ve changed as a simple matter of growing older and maturing, at essence, we are still the same two people who married 24 years ago. What I loved about him then is still there, although, frankly, I can’t even begin to describe what that is.

    • 1WriteWay,

      I think your post is good and very representational of more and more people, I know many parents who would prefer their adult children to live with someone before marriage, perhaps the parents wouldn’t say that living together is ‘ideal’ but I have had them tell me they don’t want their children to make the mistake of marrying the wrong person…although what or who is the ‘wrong’ person is really left to one’s imagination because in many cases one doesn’t know till later on

    • Yes, there was a time when my parents and even my older sister (who has three adult sons) would have considered it shameful for a couple to “live in sin.” With the rate of divorce in our own immediate and extended families, they have definitely done a 180, practically begging divorced family members to not marry again until they’ve lived with their new love for awhile. Often I feel my husband and I just got lucky. We had both been in serious relationships before and things could have turned out so differently.

  13. I think we are letting our children down by teaching them that there is an ideal at all. What is “ideal”? What is “normal”? It means different things to different people. I didn’t take the path I intended to take when I was young, freshly married and hopeful, but I am on my way to my own “ideal”. My NEW “ideal”. I’m older and wiser now. The road just took many more turns than I anticipated.

    Great food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sylvia,

      great thoughts….as a counselor and psychology major ‘what is normal’ comprised of much of my academic studies..

      It was only a few years back that the American Psychological Association labeled homosexuals as being psychologically abnormal….fortunately they have reversed their stance and now recognize the simple fact that some people are attracted to people of the same sex and this does not mean they are somehow psychologically deficient or less of a human being.

  14. If that love and/or marriage is rooted in Christ, it stands solid.

  15. so many different kinds of love, and so few are considered culturally desirable. it’s no wonder so many people in who have no business feeling deprived describe themselves as unhappy. They’ve been promised Neverland.

  16. you are on point, i believe in true love and that it should last a life time but it depends on both parties

  17. you are on point, i believe in true love and that it should last a life time but it depends on both parties. great post am right behind you

  18. you ask some very thought provoking questions…ones I’ve actually asked myself many times…does true love last a lifetime…sometimes no…I think it depends on how hard both parties are willing to work at the relationship! Sex and love are two very different animals…I used to think a couple had to live together and have sex before marriage to ensure compatibility…now I’m not so sure about that, if there really is love, won’t two people be compatible sexually eventually the same way people who live together might…over time two people will learn about about each other sexually. Without feelings of love or it won’t work for anyone… there must be commitment, acceptance, wanting & working with what we have, not wanting what we don’t have!!!

    We won’t fail our children if we present making love as something special, a gift, an expression of love that will change over time and we must learn to adapt and change with it. There is so much more to think and say…but this is enough for now…

  19. Everything is well said and right to the point. Life and love is very special. I experienced true love in the eyes of my parents, after 38 yrs of marriage they were still holding hands. But unfortunately they passed away not long after that. You have a true gift at the analogy of life.

  20. Staying together for the long haul has to be a value for both of you. The relationship changes as the people change, but a marriage can have many lovely stages. And at the end of your life, to have a person you’ve spent your life with, through good and bad, who knows you and loves you– what is better than that? People give up too easily.

  21. I don’t know which has been best, the blog or the comments. lol And you are a great photographer, BTW, Kenneth. I do agree, though, it does take what I call the will to “stick to it” for any relationship to work, especially marriage. Most people do want it fast and easy, no fuss, no problems. That is a fairy tale, not real life. Does the word commitment scare the heck [I was nice] out of everyone? Marriage is not supposed to be a contract, which can be broken, but a covenant between two people who become one.
    Of course, one of them can step into stupid via adultery, violence, etc. Then I say it is time to close the doors on that chapter and move on. No one has to put up with, or should put up with being degraded. But back to your post, lol, yeah, the movies don’t show real love, they show real lust. It’s part of the process, but it wanes. Then we deal with real life. Thus the need for commitment.

  22. As a 24 year old I have been raised in a time where divorce is common. When I was 12 I remember discovering that I was the only child in my class with my parents still together. In my family things were different. My Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and Parents viewed things differently. For a long time I tried to figure out why their marriages lasted and others didn’t. I questioned, observed and tested.
    The difference I found was priorities. They all seem to put the other before themselves. If one is doing this in a relationship it never lasts because the one that is uncared for is forced to take things into their own hands. If both are always putting the others feelings first, taking them into consideration and learning their views then both are always taken care of. Two people that trust in relying on each other because they know each other so well. Two people that can live stress free knowing they will always be loved and cared for.
    They have disputes as people do. All couples make mistakes and sometimes hurt each others feelings. The difference is they care so much for the other that their priority is not their pride or what point they have to prove. Thee others feelings take priority which gives them a need to fix. Both ensure the other is happy as opposed to themselves.
    An example of this commitment is when Granddad got sick. He had to be moved to a home because Nana just couldn’t lift him anymore. Granddad always drove so Nana never learnt. Every single morning Nana would walk to him and look after him so he didn’t get embarrassed by the nurses doing it. Every night she would walk home. They gave Granddad six months to live. Two years later, the day Nana told him she was ready, he let go.
    I believe in love and I believe in forever. I just think you need to find someone who cares for you more than you do yourself and vice versa. Love requires hard times that can over be overcome by selflessness. The problem is the pressure to fit into an unrealistic checklist that takes people away from who they truly are and what they truly want. No one can learn who you are if you don’t show yourself. Learn how to care and find someone who can care back. That’s what the swans have.

    This turned out so long I think I will blog it haha.

  23. Wow great post and I feel like many people think on this more than they care to admit. Me being a wife of 6yrs. I must say that my concept of marriage and love was never really what they conveyed in movies. Although I have been one caught up in a good love story I believe it was based more on the people than it was simply just love. Love? What Is That? I believe because LIKE & LOVE has been mixed up that’s when mistakes and unhappiness kicks in. I liked my husband which is why we became friends. I love my husband now which means now, I’ve vowed to work things out, to cater to his needs, to grow with him, to understand that I am not perfect, to understand that I too crave understanding, that I too crave a good ear, that I too make mistakes. Love is all about adaptability especially in a marriage. Marriage is so far beyond that I thought I liked you stage which many once again get it twisted with love. Love is a servant, Love has practices that can only sustain two people who are so different with different personalities. I don’t like you anymore is why many divorce. In my personal opinion being 27yrs. old I feel like this; how dumb would it have been to marry my husband at 21yrs. old and not expect anything to change? How silly would that have been for me to think he would be the same 21yr. old I married now being 27? I wouldn’t want that. I would want some growth and changes. But what hasn’t changed in 6yrs is his love for me, his willingness to hear me out and work with me even with all that I go through. Those things that are most important, the sustainable things, that to me is Love. Love is not the things I like about you, Love is knowing what I dislike about you and being able to adapt or even convey those things in a loving way; Love is even that person hearing what’s not liked about them being willing to change. Where there is no flexibility in a relationship, where there is no understanding that makes it hard for love to prevail. Do I believe in love forever? Honestly I really believe in PRACTICING LOVE FOREVER! It’s the PRACTICE of LOVE that makes it last!

    M.Mize

  24. I read the blog post. If there is such a thing as Objective Truth, then these questions can be answered. Do you believe that there is Objective Truth? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV)

  25. people are too selfish to look beyond themselves and their own hormones
    romance sets up the marriage
    but marriage is not about romance
    it’s hard
    it takes work
    but no one wants to hear that
    they want the movie instead
    grow up

  26. WOW, just WOW! A topic we can all relate to.

    I believe in love that can last forever, I don’t know about the happily ever after. part. My grandparents did it as so many of that generation did. My Aunt Dot and Uncle O are doing it, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sally, YEP but they are the tail end of that older generation ! My mom is the youngest at 78. But ….. thinking…. . My mom and dad divorced eachother 4-5 times. She never remarried but loves my father til this day. Dad did and he is miserable. My oldest sis, is with the man she married, at 20 but they have been divorced from one another twice I think.. My brother married his childhood sweetheart and they good marriage until wasn’t. IT last 32 years AND then they split. There was alot of anger and disillusionment there. Initially, it was kept so hush hush that their kids didn’t even know. My other sis is on her second husband. Me, welllllllllll. 3 times, 4, if you wanna count my 9-1/2 week marriage between 1-3. I don’t! I believe we WANT the happily-ever-after. I thought I had that with Chuck. I really did! I started out his wife tho, and then became his ‘mom’ I outgrew him I always felt. And still after a divorce, I brought him back into my life when I learned he was terminally ill and he remained with me until 10 days before his death when Hospice took him into their facility. I am certain, I couldn’t do it again. The truth is THAT I LOVED HIM! Rebel ( nickname, is my 4th and last ) We went into this with our eyes wide open, and tried to be realistic in our decision to mate UP! If for whatever reason, our marriage ends before we get too feeble to end it. I won’t do it a 5th time. I have been ‘married’ or mated-up for what seems my entire life.

  27. Hi there,

    working with kids and teenies, I have to say some parents I know should divorce instead of using their kids as weapons against their husband or wife. This is some kind of violence which is, to me so far, impossible to accept.

    Thanks for your post!

  28. Wow, I can relate to this post. That you saw the swans on your walk is nothing short of miraculous. What a gift! Thank you.

  29. I went through 4 divorces between both of my parents as a kid and it wasn’t until I got married that I even realized what that did to my mindset. In the back of my head for years, divorce was not welcomed but it surely was an option. I had to literally retrain my thinking. Nobody ever hit 50 years by divorcing at 10, 20, 30, or even 40. People compare their marriages to how other marriages ‘appear’. They assume that every expectation they have of their spouse should be met ‘if they really love them’. I think most people are unhappy in their marriages because they are more focused on what they can get out of their marriage than walking through life with that person. I don’t always like my husband. There have even been times that I was convinced I didn’t love him anymore. There have been even more times that we have grown out of habits and into new ones and had to kind of ‘get to know eachother’ again. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. The even crazier part is that if we stick it out through those times, and stop acting like a child not getting our way, we really start to see the good things in our spouses all over again and can become proud to be their wives/husbands. It’s all about perspective and in this instant gratification mentality we have these days, ‘for life’ sounds like a death sentence. I also love how people assume ‘for better or for worse’ only means when someone robs us or a spouse gets ill or something, when really, the worse parts we need to make it through are self inflicted, selfishly motivated, downright meanness experienced when two people expect to get their own way and consider their sacrifices as a loan of mercy to be paid back later. Unfortunately, there are so many people who give up or ‘get fed up’ as they like to call it. It’s just because they feel so deserted and robbed of their lives. It’s a real anguish that they suffer and it can take the fight right out of them. It’s exhausting and can seem absolutely hopeless. That’s why we need to encourage our friends and family not only to stick it out, but to look past this moment and see what CAN be. We have to love on families struggling in their marriages and for goodness sake, stop encouraging people to ‘just demand their way’! That’s not the way love works. 🙂

  30. I will be married 10 years in December, and I am still hopelessly in love and “engaged.” My husband and I have faced external challenges, but between the two of us, I feel very fortunate to say that our marriage is not hard work. It’s fun and easy. We talk, we play, and we laugh A LOT. We don’t have children (by choice) so I do realize it is a lot easier to just focus on each other. Every day when I wake up to my husband’s sweet face, I feel everything is right in my universe. When I told him I wanted to give up a lucrative teaching job and write a novel, he supported me 100%. The result was a novel called Red Greek Tomatoes–a fictional story about a Greek-American woman looking for love.
    thanks for interesting post!
    Kimberly 🙂
    http://www.redgreektomatoes.com

  31. I think that there are people you love forever and people you love just for a while. I think it’s important, though not always possible, to recognize the difference. I don’t that humans were actually, biologically speaking, intended to monogamous. My current intention is to not get married, even if/when I fall in love, because I’ve seen it become a trap for so many people, sometimes through intent and sometimes through neglect, but always through pain. People do change and when you marry them you make a promise to love them no matter what, but sometimes they change so drastically (even when it’s of no intent or will of their own) that it’s no longer possible. Love can conquer much, but it can’t conquer everything.
    On another note, I think the biggest problem in a relationship is not being open, honest, and above all respectful of each other. I’ve seen it happen time and time again, people refuse to listen, they let their first impulsive emotions rule them, and they end up hurting each other badly for no real reason at all. I can’t figure it out for the life of me. People are strange.

  32. This is a topic I have thought about quite a lot. As a divorced women, mother of 5 sons, and 9 years into second marriage – (our anniversary is tomorrow, actually we have been ” a couple” for 20 years) I really thought alot about what to tell my sons about love and marriage and relationships. My first blog is actually about this http://whataheartcanhold.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/exploring-the-capacity-of-the-human-heart-2/

    Here is a relevant excerpt:
    Not knowing then, that my marriage would end in divorce, I neglected to tell them that all love is good…no matter what….having loved someone matters.
    No matter how it ends, or changes, love is never wasted.
    Never fear a broken heart because the only way you can get one is by having loved deeply, and deep love enriches the soul.
    Never think that once your heart is broken, you can’t ever love again.
    Each time we love, we increase our capacity to love.
    The human heart is designed to love and it has the capacity to grow and expand until it is so big that it loves the whole world.
    Most of us run out of time before our hearts get big enough to hold love for the whole entire world, but many of us come pretty close.

    Of course I wish that my first marriage had lasted as ling as my parents – 68 years when my father died – but, after 65 years of living and loving, I truly believe that it can be true love even if the marriage doesn’t last. Divorces don’t always mean the end of love, sometimes they mean the transition to a different kind of love or a realization that the person you love has issues that make them unsafe to live with. I still love my first husband, but I could never live with him. But for the last 21 years, he has been part of every family birthday, graduation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. We have been divorced for 23 years and once the dust settled, we committed to being an extended family, rather than a broken one.
    Love takes all shapes.

  33. Marriage is a social construct which gives order to society. So, it is favored for that reason. The pressure to marry, when maybe it isn’t to the love of your life, can be enough to make one believe the love can last forever. Unfortunately, many marriages stay together out of various types of duties and responsibilities. If one is wise enough to wait for the right person, I believe that one lifetime partner is possible, but rare. It is hard to know what to wait for without any experience in the knowing. Swans have to take care of business to keep the species alive. They probably don’t get annoyed when their mate messes up the nest, doesn’t help with the goslings, or chews with his beak open. It is a fairly challenging issue to compare humans to swans. Love the topic!

  34. I would really like to know how things have evolved historically. I just don’t have the time to research it. I mean in Bible times (sorry this is what I’m most familiar with)…..the marriage relationships we were introduced to, weren’t really what we think of them as today??? It seems like the men kind of had their own thing going on and that the women had their own thing going on. Were they living in such close quarters? Were women enjoying the company of other women instead of having to be up their husband’s booty all the time? Were men happier because they had concubines and no one really looked down on it all that much? How did relationships/marriage/etc get so boxed in? I mean I know that the Bible says stuff about monogamy and how adultery is wrong and all that. But at the same time, A LOT of the esteemed Biblical characters lived according to “the times.” What was their consequence? Did David have a harem? I don’t really know. But it wasn’t the harem that got him in trouble….it was taking someone else’s wife and then murdering the husband. What “intent” is God more interested in. I don’t know. All of this is just very confusing. But I agree with you that marriage is all about stages and phases. I would like to BELIEVE that there is a fairy tale that exists somewhere, but my husband and I debate all the time about whether we should allow our daughters to believe the rosey version.

  35. It is very True Kenneth only God’s Love lasts a lifetime, man’s fleshy love can’t it’s based on self, we ask and receive. Jesus said that Divorce showed the person had a hard heart, this is because there was no forgiveness, no marriage will last without it and if we hold onto bitterness and resentment it is like making poison for the person who hurt us but drinking it ourselves, it eats us away.

    God tells us if we don’t forgive others we won’t be forgiven and this is because we push God away and He can’t forgive us this is the same with all sin, good and evil cannot be in Unity, repentance and forgiveness bridges the gape.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.

  36. Well you know while birds like the Albatross or the white swans (not sure about the black swans) may mate for life they actually spend much of their lives alone or part of a flock and the balance feeding their chicks. They don’t try to live in the same nest for their entire adult life so perhaps that is where we have made our mistake.

  37. Change is inevitable. Some people are averse to it and other want it desperately. I think I have met both kind of people. People who let the monotonous life run all over them and they take it sitting back. Other want life to change rapidly. I would say one shouldnt generalize as I personally think there comes a time you cannot love someone like the way you did her, even if you lose her.

  38. I don’t claim to have any expertise in this area – I’m young(ish) and been married for almost 10 years. But I can talk about what I’ve noticed in my friends, and the world. People seem to rush into marriages (or just relationships in general) with this idea that the spouse will *make* them happy – and then, when the spouse isn’t making them happy anymore, they feel justified in leaving. I think that you can’t expect someone else to make you happy, not really. That’s your own job. And there are going to be periods or seasons of life that are down/depressing/whatever, that’s just how it goes, but it always comes around eventually. People don’t seem as willing to stick out the hard times anymore.

  39. I liked the movie “Hope Springs” which shows what can happen when a couple becomes disengaged and then makes the effort to renew a relationship that has gone stagnant. I’ve been married long enough that I can relate to such movies better than the Rom-Coms that never get past the ‘fun’ part of a relationship.

  40. I could go on and on here, but I’ll refrain at the moment on most of it and simply say that yes, marriage can be work. It shouldn’t have to be. I’ve been married for 24 years and I can count the fights we’ve had on one hand. We talk. ALL the time. People change and evolve and if you don’t keep open communication with that person, you wake up one morning and realize you have no idea who the person is that’s sleeping beside you.

    Our society has put so much emphasis on convenience and all things disposable, we’ve begun to believe everything should be. I read a quote somewhere by a couple who were asked how they’d stayed married for 75 years. She said “Well, we grew up in a time where when something was broken, you didn’t throw it away, you just fixed it.” Nuff said.

  41. Swans and eagles mate for life, but have you ever watched eagles? They doesn’t spend that much time screeching at each other which I think equates to talking. Perhaps there in lies the answer as to how they can mate for life.

  42. I nominated you for the Sunshine award. Keep up the awesome blog posts! I love reading what you have to say.

  43. very true , the very opinion ” that love can last a lifetime ” creates disappointment when it doesnt

  44. I think part of the problem is how we think about love. In the movies, we’re shown that a person just perfect for us will happen by, and we’ll get along so well that all the problems of life will just fade into the background. Well, that doesn’t happen. I’ve been married for nearly 6 years, and the second, third and fourth year of marriage was borderline hell. My husband’s father passed away on our first wedding anniversary, which sent my husband into a long mourning period where it was really hard for us to connect emotionally. Then I became pregnant with our son and experienced morning sickness so severe that we were only intimate about 5 times the entire nine months. Then the baby came, and with him post-partum depression. By then, my husband was working 10 to 14-hour days in the Navy. In the middle of all this, we moved twice, bought a house, learned about a sex addict in the family, experienced two more deaths, and watched as his mother nearly lost her house to foreclosure. That kind of stuff takes a toll…changes a person. And when you’re depressed, exhausted, angry and facing yet another problem that shouldn’t even be yours to deal with, it can be really easy to feel like love has failed you and slip into a mode of selfishness and hostility. That’s when marriage requires discipline, sacrifice and commitment (from both parties) to make it work. That’s what you don’t see in the movies. Love isn’t just something that you feel; it’s what you do.

  45. Robert Graves wrote that when you love you have to “love forever” even if you know that it might not last that long. You have to be totally into it to experience the greatness of it. And even though we can not always be after pleasurable new “experiences”, I find that some some bitter life experiences can be a great burden when they occur(loss, breaking up, etc) , but in the end they shape a better person out of you, for the next time. And it is up to you to make your every day life (including your relationship-family) a new experience.

  46. Too bad we don’t live closer. My guess would be our “coffee talk” would be very interesting. Love your stuff!

  47. So many thoughts in my head about this one….to be brief (ha! me? brief?) I lived with my husband for close to 10 years before we got married,we were barely 20 when we met and married at 29. Fast forward to the place in our lives where we’re closer to 50 than 40 and we are not in any way the same people we once were. I think marriages should come with expiration dates we can re-sign or resign. 😛

  48. Swans are awesome. They are a beautiful symbol of a virtue called fidelity– something that should not be limited to the context of marriage. Friends, children, neighbors– they all benefit from the knowledge that when you say you are going to be there for them– you will, even if it’s not convenient or fun. Gosh, even if you suffer for it, you will still stand firm on what you said. That’s why in medieval art, the swan was piercing it’s own breast to feed its young. They represented the love and fidelity of Christ.

    True Love[tm] doesn’t “just happen”. You have to make that decision to love your mate EVERY SINGLE DAY. If your “true love” is just a tingle that rushes in your heart spontaneously, then yes, divorce is right around the corner. After all, tomorrow, you could have that tingle for someone else. It all boils down to what you want to base your life on. If we stop having goals that are hard, that we are willing to sacrifice for, then we may as well check out of civilization right now. There is just no point otherwise– unless what we live for means something beyond what feels good for today.

  49. Starting to like you blog, question the norm is the surest way to advancement, If we don’t think differently from the previous generations how do we beat their records? I wrote an article on this issue too, I titled it WEDDING VOWS I’ll like you to kindly check it out lifegiva2.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/wedding-vows/

  50. WEDDING VOWS I’ll like you to kindly check it out http://lifegiva2.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/wedding-vows/

  51. you said: “As humans, do we really have the psychological makeup to make a relationship last till we die?” I think the answer is yes. I got married at the age of 22 and have been happily married for over 18 years. We have a couple in my church who have been happily married for 50 years. So yes, it can be done. The problem is, people today don’t value old fashioned values like faithfulness or commitment. If we get ticked off or offended at someone, we ‘unfriend’ them on facebook and give up on the relationship. That’s a sad commentary on today’s generation!
    http://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/

    • Well said! We live in a throw-away society. We move on to the next when we get bored. I think it has something to do with ego & selfishness as well. If people started to live with a mind-frame of appreciation they would be a lot happier with their lives. We should be lucky that someone chooses to spend their life with us. They could just walk away, but they give him or herself to us. That should be cherished.

  52. You’ve quite possibly the best philosophical site I’ve come across in eons. The questions you ask force us to reflect on both sides of a concept, as well as the reality of a situation. Here, I see pros and cons from both sides. I must admit that I don’t yet know WHAT to tell my children regarding this standpoint. Biblically, I think people stay together because that’s what’s expected, but if they aren’t really religious (following the criteria of a considerate, married couple), then many people are forcing themselves to stay together while unhappy, cheating, depressed, addicted to substances to escape reality…and what of the kids? The kids end up being victims of circumstance based on their parents’ decision to stay together, supposedly for the kids’ sake, while they witness their parents’ unhappiness, arguments, depression, verbal abuse, rages, etc.? Then, they enter into their own marriages, and many times, model what they witnessed from their parents. Is this really the best route to take?

  53. Very interesting. I think about this quite a lot. Personally I feel about 80% of the population shouldn’t be in long-term relationships or marriages. I think many people lie to themselves, which in the end leaves one or two people hurt quite often. Not everyone has the capacity to love completely.. mind, body, & soul.. for whatever reason. However, there are people who can mate for life. My parents are a good example. I think one of the biggest problems is that people think they are in love when they are actually in lust. People don’t take enough time to get to know each other before they start a romantic relationship. And then they just get comfy & don’t wanna leave. I think the best relationships start off as friends first & then evolve into romance if the two people really like each other. Not going on dates & saying “oh no! Its Sat night & I don’t have a date!” And when you truly have fun with your partner, they’re your best friend, I think it works. And to keep it alive both people have to put effort in to nurture the relationship. Amazing how hard that is for some people. Keep the romance & excitement alive & even cherish the non-exciting times with your partner. We live in such a throw-away society. We get bored so we move on. But if we appreciate more, then we can see how lucky we are that someone is choosing to give him or herself to us. They don’t have to. They can walk away. When we cherish every day, all the little moments, its much easier to have a lasting relationship & grow together, rather than apart. Love is an action. Love is a spiritual (not religious) thing that bonds us that goes beyond sex. Just my opinion based on my own relationships & observations.

  54. personally I don’t think couples work hard enough at keeping a relationship going we all go through seasons and so do relationships but we should work together with those seasons and learn and grow with each other as well as growing as an individual. I truly believe that if you don’t know yourself or like yourself you can’t give much to anyone else let alone love. the Swans know who they are they don’t need to pretend to be anyone but themselves so they are able to stay together for life. there is no insecurity or self doubt. if we could take those 2 things away you might see some more lasting relationships.

  55. Thank you for liking “(Camera) Trick or Treat.” This is an interesting post. As I get older, I think that the Hollywood notions of true love are not actually true. They seem to overlook the reality that we live in a world where many people have short attention spans and demand instant results. Another problem is that people are having difficulty with face-to-face communication because of cell phones, social media, and other similar technology. I have heard stories about couples who text each other at the dinner table rather than talk to each other directly. On the other hand, I am not sure if swans are the best role model for human love either. The reason why I say this is because one of my college teachers told me he saw some swans in person and that they were mean and unfriendly birds (at least they were to him).

    This topic causes a mental tug-of-war within me. I would like to believe long-lasting love is still possible, and the sight of an elderly couple holding hands together as they walk to their car or some other place gives me some hope. However, in a world that is increasingly becoming like the ones portrayed in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984, the odds seem stacked against it.

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  1. Does True Love Really Last a Lifetime? | Kim Raya's Blog

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