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.
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?
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.
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?