First it’s falling in love. It’s idealization. People aren’t perfect themselves. And they aren’t perfect for each other; there is nothing such as “a perfect match”. But somehow, falling in love makes us forget that. For a time, we are caught in the illusion. Some of us, those who fall in love. The others have a different agenda.
Then, we wake up. Disaster… for some. Returning to reality… for others. Acceptance, tolerance, social pressure, promises that need to be kept, fears of all kinds, etc. Some are lucky and fall in love… for real. That is, they replace the initial emotion with the warm and stable feeling of love. And then time moves on. Layers upon layers of memories, marriage or not, children or not, the full-time job of being a partner in a couple and a member of a newly established family.
And then comes the day when the colors are no longer so vivid. The routine is no longer pleasant. The security of the couple begins to smell like prison or a golden cage. Boredom sets in. Doubt takes root. Is this all that there is? That was all? No fortress to conquer? No field to cover? No treasure to uncover? No secret, no mystery to unearth? No joke left to be told?
Nothing new anymore?
The same damn partner I seem to know for ages, looking at me with that dumb face?
The same boring partner that seems like a rock, hard and… resistant to change?
Sometimes people grow together. Sometimes people grow in parallel, each one in their own direction. But sometimes one partner stops, while the other continues to grow. Sometimes one only seems to have stopped. Sometimes one only seems to be unable to stop growing and enjoy what has already been acquired…
And then, slowly, a cold breeze begins to be felt. A wave of… alienation. Then, a fissure. A crack. Then, another one. Then, a rift.
People stay together for many reasons. Not all of those reasons are pretty or pleasant or fun. Some are still together out of inertia. Others because they value conformity, tradition, or perhaps they yearn to fit in. Others are no longer together for many, many years, yet on the surface they seem to be fine. Many keep a secret. Sometimes the secret can be intuited, deducted or felt. Sometimes the secret remains in the depths where nobody can enter or… bothers to search…
Staying in a couple – or relationship – is a decision we make every single day. It’s a statement that we renew every morning and a vow we choose to keep. It’s the promise that we make to ourselves and to the other that our lives remain entangled… no matter what. The vow is more often unconscious, but we make it nevertheless.
This is commitment. It’s the decision to stay.
And this keeps us together through time.
Even when – or especially when – things get tough.