When my therapist says, “Love doesn’t mean you won’t suffer,” I gulp. Hard. For this isn’t what love is suppose to be. I grew up with the promise of the movie Love Story…love until the end of time that went hand-in-hand with the often quoted “Love Means…Never Having To Say You’re Sorry!” I find myself wondering where did the ideals of the 70’s go and how do we get them back?
The definition of suffering is
experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).
“he’d suffered intense pain”
2. To tolerate, put up with, or endure
Frankly, I don’t remember saying any of those words in my wedding vows. I mean, who would willingly stand up and say “I promise to tolerate, put up with, and endure life with you throughout all of our days” in front of God and our loved ones? Seriously!
Instead, the vows we most often robotically repeat go something like this:
“I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”
Frankly, when most of us marry we really do not have the experience in to understand what those vows really mean and how they will impact us at some point in our lives. Most likely we haven’t been through better or worse yet; we haven’t done the for richer thing yet; and hopefully the sickness and in health part is something we don’t truly know about until we are very, very old. It would appear that vows don’t have a lot of meaning unless you suffer. Really suffer and emerge intact.
So after 30 years our love/marriage is suffering. Greatly. The “for WORSE” part of our vows has kicked in and I’m not even sure how to return to “the BETTER” part. Where is the road map to re-negotiating your place in your marriage after a lifetime of habits and relating to one another in certain ways?
If I am honest, suffering has never seemed like a particularly noble thing to do. I had so many terminally ill patients whose families seemed to believe that keeping their loved ones alive, even though they were suffering tremendously, was somehow important and noble. Calling a CODE in which everything is done to save someone’s life when they are terminal is cruel. I see nothing noble in suffering and I am convinced that the lessons learned are not important enough to endure all the pain.
Therefore, if suffering is part of love I guess I am lucky not to have done much of it up until this point. Yet, I also realize at some point the suffering has to end. I am just hoping we can reach the “for BETTER” part before a CODE is called and our marriage has flat lined.