Today marks the 130th consecutive week of producing articles for the Learning Life’s Lesson series, that began on August 22nd, 2004. During this period we have covered many topics originating from real life experiences. In Lesson Two we discussed the importance of developing and maintaining a Real Deal Relationship. In that lesson we described these relationships as two loving participants who had a history of being independent as well as inter-dependent individuals who matured together and are still standing as a union, after being battered by the storms of life. They are usually strong and persistent individuals who won’t quit when the going gets tough. They are usually individuals who have old fashioned RESPECT for each other and would give their life for each other. They each always knew that there’s at least one other person in their world that will ALWAYS be there for them through good times and bad; through sickness and health; forever! That’s what we called a REAL DEAL relationship.
In my opinion, individuals involved in a Real Deal Relationship should each make their partner’s well being and happiness the absolute highest priority in their life. No one individual; group; or virtually any other event, person or possession should ever come between them and weaken this precious relationship. This very special relationship should never have an expiration date and never go stale like a loaf of bread purchased at a supermarket.
So our question for this week’s lesson is “Why Do Many Real Deal Relationships Expire and end in separation and divorce?” Since I associate with many individuals in their 60’s and 70’s, I was often bewildered by the fact that only a handful of them were still together with their first partner. The rough statistics from my interactions are that about 15% are maintaining their first marriage; about 75% are on their second marriage; and 10% are into a third marriage. Their stories of what happened in their first marriage varies from person to person, however most of the marriages dissolved after 20 years or more together. So what goes wrong?
Most of these long term spousal relationships have most of the ingredients to qualify it for a Real Deal Relationship. They were supplying many needs for each other and shared in the responsibilities of running a home and nurturing a family. They would worry about each other and take care of each other in a time of illness and be there for each other in a time of need. However something made these relationships expire.
Perhaps it was an extra marital relationship? Or maybe an alcohol, drug abuse or gambling problem of one of the partners or family members? Many times Real Deal Relationships can withstand the tests of these and other problems, by forgiving, forgetting and taking positive actions to improve these maladies. However one sure problem that kills relationships is when one or both partners cease to respect the other. If one partner repeatedly disbelieves or tunes out what the other has to say, normal communications often end up as arguments, leaving emotional scars that cannot be repaired.
Often the problems and pressures of elderly parents, adult children, or shaky relationships with in-laws or extended family members can enter into an otherwise strong “Real Deal Relationship” and tear it apart at the seams. Partners forget that 20 or 30 years ago, they took vows at their wedding ceremony to be devoted to EACH OTHER FIRST and FOREMOST. Here’s a typical example of wedding vows:
"I (name), take you (name) to be my (husband/wife), my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live."
It’s easy to see that children, elderly parents, in-laws or extended family members are not a part of these vows and should never interfere with how you treat your Real Deal Partner. Saying I will trust you and respect you on your wedding day is a commitment of great clarity that should always be followed throughout your relationship without EXCEPTIONS! When partners let others outside of the Real Deal Relationship affect one or both partners to cease living up to these vows in years 15 through 30 of the relationship, the result may cause the expiration of a Real Deal Relationship. This is a tragedy that can and should be avoided by following those beautiful vows throughout your lifetime together.
Perhaps it would benefit relationships if partners read these vows to each other every month or even every week, to reassure each other who is most important in their lives. Real Deal Relationships form over decades and can end instantly. Don’t let that happen to you! Follow your vows for a lifetime and cherish your Real Deal Relationship.