Term Limits

I have several people in my life who are at the difficult stage of having to make the decision to put a beloved family pet to sleep. I feel for them and I know that I will join them soon with my own Miss Kitty.

It’s hard – we take in these creatures and they become an integral part of our lives. They lick tears off our faces when we’re sad, comfort us when we’re sick and greet us with a smile even when the world seems to have nothing but harsh words for us. They follow us through life transitions – vetting dates, sniffing infants as they arrive from the hospital and filling a void when children leave. They are the trusted confidants of the entire family. The house clown and the soft teddy bear.

We take them on knowing full well that they will only be with us for 10 years. Or 15. Or, if we’re really lucky, a few more. But we still know that their time with us has a limit. And that no matter when it arrives, the end will come before we are ready.

On my evening run today, thoughts of our animals swirled around with thoughts of marriage. I was just coming off an interesting Twitter discussion with @survivinglimbo and @OMGchronicles where we were debating the concept of divorce as a failure. Here is Surviving Limbo’s take. And here is Vicki Larson’s, aka OMG Chronicles, perspective.

I think I’m somewhere in between. Here’s what I’ve written in the past, before marriage #2. I know I don’t view my first marriage as a failure even though it ended. I guess to me it was good (at least from what I knew) while it lasted and I learned from its ending. That’s not a failure in my book. At the same time, I experience discomfort with Vicki’s concept that maybe a marriage should be term limited with an option to renew the contract at a particular point. Perhaps I’m still naive or idealistic, but I continue to hold onto the intent of a marriage lasting a lifetime (even though I am well aware that the reality may be different).

But maybe sometimes marriage is not unlike our animals. It comes in, occupies every corner of our lives. It brings smiles and joy. And then (sometimes) it fades away. Maybe in 10 years. Or 15. Or for those that are very lucky, a few more.

For me, I like the idea of a lifetime commitment. To doing all that I can do make it work. I don’t like living with the end in mind.

But even when ends come, it just means the term limit has expired.

It says nothing about the term itself.

 

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7 thoughts on “Term Limits

  1. My heart still tells me that we should marry “’til death do us part”…I want my parents’ 60 year marriage that only ended with Mom’s death. My experience has been otherwise…a seven-year marriage where we took on a third partner mid-way, and then I chose to leave, and a now 33-year marriage that I walked away from 4 years ago because it had become too toxic to tolerate any longer. I suppose that says more about me and my choices in mates than about marriage as an institution. – Fawn

  2. Very interesting conversation that I’m grateful to be a part of. By no means do I consider my marriage a failure (we had a really good run) yet my ex and I did fail to fulfill our lifetime commitment to each other (yes, he left me and I did not want divorce but ultimately, without parsing blame, in the end our coupling did not last).

    As for term limits, I’m not really into the idea personally, but I see no reason why a couple shouldn’t be able to set their own terms if they so choose.

    Thanks for the challenging dialogue. I have to rethink how I phrase this … for sure, the marriage was not a failure despite our failing to stay married. I suppose I see divorce quite literally as a failure to stay married, but that does not mean we are failures as people.

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