On Love, Sweet Love: What’s Up With Commitment—and Endings—in Our Lives These Days

I Knew a Good Man, Darling

I knew
a good man
who couldn’t
relish spring
and the sweetness
blooming
in his garden.

Relax, my
love, enjoy,
I teased,
laughed, whispered,
pleaded.
Shouted.

Then
I realized
a piece
was
missing,
a promise:

I am yours
and will
never leave you,
darling.

Or, sweeter:

I’ll only go
if you
want me
to,
and
if you
want to go,
I’ll say,
          ‘go,
               darling.’

Love is a helluva drug

I wouldn’t usually, as in ever, add any kind of narrative to a poem. But today I feel like it. I’m breaking my own rule. Like eating potato chips late at night. :)

Because the dance of love is like nothing else. Love really is a helluva drug. And who first said that, by the way? I’ve been trying to find out! Anyway, there’s nothing more mysterious than love.  Nothing more maddening. Nothing that’s ultimately more of a secret.

Yes, I’ve been feeling for years that every love relationship is a secret. No one outside any two-person tango can really know the nuances of how the partners move together. Of the relationship’s inner climate, including its inevitable dark patches and desert places. Whether or not it’s ultimately a place of mutual growth, of rest, of self-expression. Of comfort and delight. All that we hunger for and deserve.

But does a committed love relationship really have to be all that? Or is commitment itself, that willingness, more important than partners being all things to each other? Indeed, is being “everything” to one soul even possible? Or healthy?

You could even say romantic love and commitment are separate topics. Though in modern western culture, where we’re so free to choose commitment and to change our hearts and minds, I say successful, long-term, committed love is a rich, ever-fascinating focus and goal. And note that I skipped the word marriage. Why leave any committed love relationships out?

That which ends also matters

Yes, let’s go there, to the fact that many, many committed relationships end. There’s a normality to it all these days, though the stats aren’t actually as awful as the 50% divorce rate we’ve been hearing about for the past few decades. That’s partly because GenXers are staying together longer so far than boomers did, and millennials are proceeding with caution.

But we’re exploring so much in relationship these days, including ourselves. Exploring our own growth. Along the way, committed relationships, for all their beautiful beginnings, do often end. And yes, I say those endings matter.

Daunting as this may sound in any given situation, it’s important that they’re done well, with respect for all parties. With kindness and gentleness, honoring both what was and what is. It’s possible. The truth really does set us free.

Of course, even aided by gentleness, endings burn like hell. The pain burns cleanest when we’re as kind to one another as possible in the process. It helps us heal. And we do.

Because life is long, and we want—we are determined—to love and be loved well. The truth is, our expectations are often astronomical! And just like every other form of freedom in our 21st-century lives, we’re as free in the realm of love as we believe ourselves to be. Free to pursue what we want most.

The how of it all matters

In the midst of our perhaps dizzying power of choice these days, I’m profoundly interested in how we care for one another and ourselves along the way. What’s more, I believe it’s one of our most important—most sacred—opportunities.

So I say if you’re in the throes of something immense in the realm of love, take your time. Get and stay attuned to what’s truly healthy for you and others. And proceed gently, oh, so gently, with everyone, including yourself. Take the long view, with the goal of being satisfied with your approach when you look back on the present four or five years from now.

And very importantly, do call on the resources you need. Include some relationship coaching or therapy, even or especially for endings, along with your own individual coaching or therapy, and expert support for young ones.

Search for low-cost options if you need them. You and yours deserve any and all assistance at life-changing junctures, toward getting whatever is to be learned so as not to repeat the lessons, proceeding in healthy ways, and minimizing trauma all around.

Bottom line, regarding the sweet, maddening drug of love, challenge yourself to let your best self lead. Then take comfort in your good work here on the wild, wonderful journey of modern life.

Teresa Young
Teresa Younghttps://teresayoung.com/
TERESA YOUNG is a musician, educator, and certified life coach with a central passion, you living your dream. For real. Because when you’re on the path that’s right for you, the journey really is the destination. Teresa’s professional experience is corporate, educational, entrepreneurial, creative. Non-profit. For profit. Fortune 100. Bootstrap. Her personal journey spans marriage and remarriage, GenX and millennial children, the dawn of the precious era of grandchildren, and decades of her own immense transitions and transformations. Viewing all that as developmental, and ongoing growth throughout life as a core opportunity, Teresa believes the ways we live our lives and contribute to life keep evolving as we do. Her approach to life coaching is holistic, including body, mind, and spirit. The point is healthy personal, creative, and professional satisfaction, thus contribution. She coaches by phone. “If you’re on the path, you’re at the goal.” —Carl Jung
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Larry Tyler

Great story. One day on my search for Love I realized that from the day I was born I have been wrapped in love of so many and each day I find a different window in my life filled with love.

Maureen Nowicki
Maureen Nowicki

I found so much gentle wisdom conveyed here with you today, Teresa. A mega pearl for me that I enjoyed you mentioning was taking the long view of a relationship and in doing so being able to look back and feel empowered by one’s experience in being in the situation years later. That feels really like being mindful and also giving yourself permission to take your time in building relationship. Something everyone should read before being swept away into the powerful vortex of the love-drug.

Laura Staley

Thank you for the meaningful, heartfelt poem and reflections here about love-committed relationships, Teresa. What I have discovered on a very bumpy path with many black holes of confusion, hurt, and pain with regard to love is what sages for ages have shared. We are love at the very core. No need to search outside of ourselves for the experience of love. The depth and capacity at which we connect to the essence of this truth from the inside the greater capacity we have to love and celebrate others. Children who struggled to understand the differences about abuse, love, shame, joy, kindness, manipulation, and fear can begin to create adult lives which celebrate “being lovable and loving.” The process to get there can be quite an adventure. I highly recommend this journey of a lifetime. It often requires breaking patterns and freeing yourself of internal messages that came from wounded people along the way. Love always finds a way to love.

Laura Mikolaitis

I enjoyed reading your story, Teresa. It resonates, and you bring some fascinating insight into the wonder and madness of love. Love takes all forms and enters our lives during many phases. I’ve been married to my husband for 25 years, and it is a continuous and evolving journey of love, change, respect, and so many other things wrapped into one. It can be challenging at times, and marriage takes work, but our commitment to ourselves, each other, and our love pave the way.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

Love has so many variances, but most importantly is wanting the best for the other in any relationsip. I think there is love in anything we attempt, if we want the best for what we love.

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