This is the premise, the basic promise for long-term relationships, such as traditional marriages.
“Forever” is a solemn promise, and typical quotes from marriage ceremonies in this society include dedication to be true through “better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health”.
These are the big dramatic parts of a promise ceremony, yet at the outset of a young marriage they are more like a list of tests the wedded couple will face one day. The results will vary widely from couples that endure all unto their deaths, and other cases where the least bit of stress or inconvenience can lead to dissolution of the bond.
“Forever” is the most important aspect of this promise, and that only becomes truly understood as one draws nearer to the “end of Forever”, our mortal life. It’s a lofty goal when one is young, but as one ages it becomes a foundation, something to be relied upon without question or doubt.
When we really begin looking down the barrel of aging, life’s trials, the events that befall us, we reach for the assurance that the promise of “Forever” will be kept.
When we lose a good job or position, regardless of the reason. When we lose our teeth and are fitted with dentures. When we are stricken with the debts of our years and become weakened, even hobbled, by the diseases and conditions of our bodies.
Are you really going to stick by me when I lose use of a leg? When my speech becomes impaired? How about if my brain is stricken, and I become, essentially, a different person than the one you made that promise to? Perhaps there’s a tipping point…15 years, 20 years, 30…40, when one no longer doubts the promise. Perhaps for some there is never any doubt.
Perhaps for others, the doubt is never fully quelled. Perhaps for some, they stick with it simply because of the promise. That’s “Forever” in a nutshell.
“Always” is the hard part. Always means ALL ways, ALL the time. To love someone “Forever and Always” means every day, through everyday trials and tribulations, through the ordinary and extraordinary millions of hours that will comprise our lives together.
Not only when you’re sick with the flu, but when you’re sick from drinking Pepsi & vodka.
Not just when you’re down because your dog died, but when you are unreachable and inconsolable over much greater loss.
When you’re smiling and complimenting me, as well as when you are angry and vilifying me.
When you’re all dressed up and smelling like a rose as well as when you’ve been through the wringer and smell like…what is that awful smell?
“Always” is the day you got the big raise, the day you bought a boat without even asking me, and the day your company moved to Guam and kicked you (and our finances) to the curb.
“Always” includes that touching, perfect gift only you could bring, and then again the time you showed up empty-handed on our anniversary.
Stress is relative, and young relationships are more prone to stress from short-sighted goals and egocentricity. My time for my buddies, the things you did before we were married, the friend who has been with you since first grade and thinks he can still be your fishing pal. The amount of time you spend with me, the number of things you do that rub me the wrong way, your attitude toward this big decision, this giant step, and whether you’re serious about “Forever”.
Even the Zen Master can find it difficult, while maintaining a solid commitment to “Forever”, to navigate the pop-up skirmishes of our “Always”.
Next time you get to an “Always” you think you need to address, just try to remember what’s in the best interest of “Forever”.
You can “always” say something, but do you want it to be on record “forever”?
Be at peace,