I walked down the alter at 23 years old.
70+ people were there to support us,
but one single question perched on their lips.
“Will this couple be another statistic?”
60% of marriages between people aged 20-25
end in divorce.
But my mom and her mom married even younger
(and stayed together),
so this must mean I’m immune,
and we’ve been together for almost 5 years already,
I was different, I thought. *We* were different.
But we were not.
And I have a hard time *still*
admitting that I am and was *just* like everyone else,
with big dreams and idealistic notions.
I thought love prevailed,
love was enough.
I thought forever meant forever,
no matter what.
I convinced myself my lack of experience was a benefit,
that I wasn’t jaded by failing love,
that I had nothing to compare the relationship to
and so the relationship could continue to be
the “best I’ve ever had.”
I’ve thought a lot about why young love
and specifically young marriage
(Of course, being realistic,
most love fails
again and again and again.)
So maybe it comes down to
*believing* that love is enough,
*believing* the ideal
of a static relationship,
of nothing changing,
of love remaining solid and grounding,
of love being everything you need
all wrapped into a package
of a single human being
made for you.
Once you’ve been divorced, though,
you realize that the spoon-fed concept
is impossible to live up to.
Forever (especially between 20-25)
is a very very long time away.
And things will change between the day of “I do”
and the interminable future.
A lot of things.
It’s impossible for them not to.
And when those things change,
sometimes it’s best that you figure it out
not held back by another human
who may or may not change with you,
grow with you.
It may not be their time, their place,
or their growth.
The reality is
that as life changes,
love also changes.
It may become ever more enduring,
like the fairytales and movies tell us…
but more likely,
it will ebb and flow.
it will be ever-present,
like the moon and the stars.
it will be hard to find in your heart,
though you know it to have been there
– at some point.
it will be different than it ever has been.
And the reality is that as life changes,
Sometimes, the things you *knew* you wanted
with all your heart
months or years ago
don’t feel like what stokes your flames anymore.
And you will want to remain the same
– because that is safe, because that is what you committed to –
but it will feel like fitting a round peg
in a square hole
and years from then,
you might look back,
and realize that made you unhappy
(but it was too scary to admit).
The reality is that as life changes,
the human that has vowed you “forever”
will change too.
Sometimes, they don’t see
how their love of you
sometimes clips your wings
in ways that feel extremely uncomfortable,
which sometimes creates resentment,
and sometimes leads to you
being smaller – for them.
Or – maybe your love of them
will make them smaller “for you.”
The thing is
that you love this person right now
because they make you feel bigger,
more you, more full.
But as we have something to lose,
more and more invested,
more and more dreams about the “forever” we’ve committed to,
it is easy to fall into the trap
of “doing things for love”
that aren’t at all loving the most important human in this relationship
And slowly, gradually, little by little,
the person you love and the person they love
The love is about a memory of someone
who no longer exists.
Long-lasting *happy* relationships require
seeing that each person
continues to be
fully and gloriously
who they are
– despite the relationship
and *because* of the changes.
The relationship, in fact,
needs to sacrifice at times
to put the individuals
“Saving the marriage,”
often too closely resembles
sacrificing the people in the marriage.
That’s because marriage often
leads to a feeling
that your life and your partner’s life
is now “our life.”
you are guaranteed a friend, a lover,
a babysitter, a +1.
The “you” and the “me”
has entirely gone away.
But marriage does not save us
or from the typical grind and struggle of life.
It does not guarantee security
or our dreams be reality.
And if you have no individual lives
then your life together will mean less and less
as the days wear on.
If you’re being successful at
saving the “you,”
you will both have other close friends,
and sometimes, you will be alone.
I’m not saying young love
I am saying that young love
– any love, really –
must be aware of its likely short-lived
(or at least evolving) existence.
It needs to be tested – regularly.
Not in longevity
(though it does require years to prove)
or even *resilience* to change
as much as whether change
leads to growth,
an opening instead of a closing,
a new and evolving depth
instead of “back to square one.”
It needs to answer
with letting go
to not become
like all the rest.