By Barbara Rose, PhD
Let me address this issue of eternity, this promise many couples demand of each other and recite in standard wedding vows. Taken literally, this promise is broken more than it is kept. But “Till death do us part” can be interpreted differently.
In this phrase, “death” does not need to mean the end of physical life. It can mean the end of the couple’s purpose for being together; once the purpose is fulfilled, the union no longer needs to continue.
Now that I have just shocked and mortified the majority of the human race, please allow me to explain further so you can have a clearer and deeper understanding.
When two people meet and grow in love, the purpose of their meeting is to help each other in a certain area, on a certain level of their lives. Now, I shall go into this in more detail in Chapter 4, Soul Mates. But here, I am not speaking of soul mates; I am speaking of those couples who find themselves in divorce court even though they once promised to be together for the remainder of their lives.
Of course there is nothing wrong with traditional marriage. It is a lovely concept. With all of the single parents in society today, however, this idea of “till death do us part” needs clarification.
How could you possibly promise something about a time that is decades away? How could you possibly be so sure that you and your partner will continue to grow together for the remainder of your lives and not grow apart? Why would you promise something you might not be able to fulfill?
Two people meet for a particular reason, a reason related to emotional growth or lessons to be learned to foster that growth so that they can become all they are meant to be, become who they really are, as opposed to their false perceptions of self.
Think about your own relationships or marriages. Was there one in which you felt so in love at first? And did you discover after a while that that particular partner had provided you with an opportunity for personal growth – an opportunity to awaken those aspects that had been dormant within you? And after you grew, did you still want that same person to remain as your partner?
Judging from the statistics on divorce in this country, my guess is that about half of the people reading this would answer “no.” Someone entered your life; as a result of that relationship, you grew to be more of who you really are. When the relationship fulfilled its purpose, you no longer felt the need to remain together, so you went your separate ways.
But in many cases, two people are meant to share the remainder of their lives together; those are the couples who are still happily married decades later, and this is perfectly fine as well.
So, it is not that marriage is right or wrong, good or bad. It is a wonderful thing to be with one person for as long as the relationship is of mutual benefit, to help each other grow, to explore life, to engage your minds in new areas. But to remain together because of some recited obligation, long after you do not fit into each other’s life, long after you have stopped growing and have no common purpose – that is the same as signing a contract with an employer stating, “I will work here, in this job, until death do us part. And no matter how my interests or life goals change, no matter how dissatisfied I am with this job, no matter how many other areas of my life I could fulfill if I were to have a different job, I will still stay with you as long as I live.”
Does this make any sense at all? Of course not! Yet that is what couples do when they promise to remain together for the remainder of their lives. This is a ridiculous promise. In many cases it cannot and should not be fulfilled; in other cases it is wonderfully fulfilled.
Instead of promising to remain together forever, why not agree that you will be committed to each other as long as you can truly grow together, be there for each other, support each other’s individual growth, be a true friend to each other, and as long as your union serves your highest good in all areas. Agree that if you grow apart, if your goals, perspectives, lifestyles, desires, purpose, interests, or intellectual and spiritual growth takes you each on a different path, then you will honor the other’s path just as you honor your own. And you will separate for the good of both of you.
You deserve a partner who is truly your friend. Why should you sacrifice your entire life to remain with someone who deadens your senses rather than encouraging all of your senses to come alive? Just because you made a promise at an altar does not mean you have to keep that promise at the cost of your individual growth, self-worth, self-respect, and self-esteem, or your potential, goals, dreams, aspirations, and life purpose.
Marriage can be a wonderful thing; there is nothing intrinsically right or wrong with it. But – and this is a very large but – it is meant to last only as long as the purpose of both partners can be fulfilled. When that purpose – whether it be personal growth, having children, creating something together, learning how to relate – has run its course and the two parties truly become like strangers, it is time to part ways.
Now, this does not mean that when a couple experiences difficult times they should separate. No. Not at all. For to grow to understand, to reach beyond your comfort zone and grow to be your very best, both as an individual and as a couple takes work.
Rocky times are a challenge to be acknowledged, worked through, and resolved so you can experience deeper friendship, greater understanding, happier times, and higher levels of life experience together.
Do not think I am saying, “Oh, we disagree, so it’s divorce time.” No, absolutely not. What I am saying is that if you do not even recognize the person you are married to anymore, if both of you truly have grown and changed in so many areas, on so many levels that you share nothing in common anymore besides a mailing address, that is when the marriage has come to its natural finish. That is when it is time to part ways and to thank the other person for teaching you so much, for helping you grow to be more of who you really are. Throughout a separation and divorce you can display respect and gratitude for all you have learned and shared, and especially for all you have grown.
Honor your feelings. Trust your perceptions. Reach beyond your own desires to understand what the other is trying to communicate. Listen to their words, watch their actions, trust the feelings you pick up from them, and say it all out loud. Do not hold back. Be honest. Your pride is not as important as your personal truth, integrity, and happiness.
For if you place your pride above your personal truth, and you withhold your truth, you will find that you are ultimately alone, without the one you love and even without the love and support of your self. Holding back the real truth leads only to regret.
When you share your truth, even at the expense of your pride, at least you know you did your all. At least you do not live with regret.
Remember always and in all ways: Be true to yourself; be true to the other; dare to say how you feel; dare to express what you think; and dare to live, thrive, and grow, either alone or together. Either way, your desire to be all you can be, can be fulfilled only by honoring your truth and finding the love within to share that truth until death do you part from this life.
© Copyright 2001, 2003, 2012 by Barbara Rose,PhD All Rights Reserved.
The above is an excerpt from the book Individual Power: Reclaiming Your Core, Your Truth, and Your Life. by Barbara Rose Published by The Rose Group (April 2003) ISBN-10: 097414570X.