Before I was married, I spent most of my time sampling a smorgasbord of lovers, without feeling any need to restrict my appetites to only one person.
During those heady days of sexual freedom, there was always the thought in the back of my mind that I would one day ‘settle down’. I never questioned the expectation that I would eventually become a wife and mother, as my mother had been before me.
So as I approached my thirties, I was on the lookout for a husband. This man would be different to the wild, passionate boys I usually went for, because a potential husband would need to last the distance. A marriage takes serious commitment and therefore requires a serious candidate.
I settled on the man I ended up marrying because he was earnest, intense and single-minded. His appetite for sex was less than mine, but I figured it would reduce the odds of him cheating and it might calm me down. As I walked down the aisle one sunny day in June, it seemed my primary criteria for happiness was that my marriage would last until ‘death us do part’. By choosing sensibly, had done everything in my power to guarantee I wouldn’t become a divorce statistic, that I wouldn’t fail at being a wife.
It is no secret that my marriage ended badly almost sixteen years later. We had stopped being good for each other only a few short years after our wedding. When I finally left, all I felt was relief.
Looking back now, I realise that my desire for a long marriage was entirely misguided. If I had wanted to be married, I should have chosen someone challenging, exciting and passionate. I should have been willing to take a chance that we might not last forever.
And when my actual marriage turned sour, I should have walked away years earlier instead of stubbornly trying to stick it out. I stayed for far too long because I believed longevity was the only measure of success.
Now I know differently. I know that a relationship that lasts only a few months can bring unconditional love, beauty and transformation. I know people change, tastes change, and love doesn’t always conquer every situation. I know that relationships are hard, and they are sometimes too hard to bear. I know my only regret is causing unnecessary pain.
You cannot throw love away and you cannot waste it. Every second of love is worth it, even if it hurts when it ends. It is better to explode as brightly as the sun and then fall into darkness, than to endure endless days of tepid artificial light.
All relationships change and transform you, they challenge you to evolve, they bring the wisdom of experience. Just because you don’t stay together forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, or right, or important.
Longevity might be the currency of other people’s relationships, but it is no longer mine.
My boyfriend and I celebrate every month we’ve been together, not because we’ve endured, but because we’ve been lucky enough to spend another month surrounded by juicy, delicious, positive love.
But if the time comes when either one of us becomes damaged by our relationship, we will end it, with all the love and respect we can muster. I know the darkness will seem terribly cold after this hot supernova has burnt itself out, but I won’t mind, because for a day, a week, a month or a few years, I basked in the intense heat of an unconstrained heart.
Do you believe in everlasting love or is longevity overrated?
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge.