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Longevity should not be the only measure of success in a partnership….

Publishing this post came down to a coin toss up, and a debate on whatsapp based on a status I posted about Damion’s thoughts on me sharing this piece. I had lunch with a friend a few weeks ago and we delved into the topic of what is considered a successful partnership to ourselves without the societal expectations. Longevity is a beautiful goal. However, there are times as partners evolve separation becomes inevitable. This separation does not indicate that the partnership was a disaster, but rather the end of a beautiful chapter. How then can we use other yardsticks to gauge the success of a partnership if it is not solely based on longevity. How can we be sympathetic to others as they navigate the end of relationships after 10, 15, 30 years without the societal judgment that they and their union failed. Is it really a failure though, to build a life with someone for over 10 years, day in and day out, grow individually and come to the mutually realization that our chapter together is over? If we remove till death do us apart, what does a successful partnership look like?

Social Media ‘#couplegoals’ was on the edge of its seat in October last year when word broke that Tia Mowry, filed for divorce from her husband and father of her two children after 14 years of marriage. Fans were in a frenzy! Some commented, ‘they saw it coming,’ rumours of infidelity floated around the streets of insta. Tia cleared the air denying infidelity as the culprit; stating, she went on a self-love journey, lost 100lbs, went to therapy and decided that her marriage was not serving the woman she is evolving to - thus filed for divorce. She considered the marriage a success while it lasted.

I have no idea what went on in their lives, however, conversations around her divorce and that of Megan Good and Devon Franklin, had me re-thinking the definition of a successful marriage/partnership. We often acquaint longevity in marriages as ‘#couplegoals’, but longevity does not have a direct co-relation to the quality of a marriage. This ideology, that we can separate because we’ve ‘grown apart’ was and still is a new outlook on marriage to me. We are cultured that ‘good’ marriages are those that last till death, regardless of the contentment experienced during these years. We are cultured to see divorce as a failure of the union and often on the individuals as well.

What a beautiful lesson to learn, divorce is not failure on either party, nor is it a measure of success of the marriage.

We tend to anticipate longevity in our relationships from the onset. We begin dating someone and place this huge expectation on them/on us, to love and partner together for the next 80 years of life. This outlook till death, takes away from critical questions in the dating phase, like does this feel good to me on a molecular level. Longevity still holds its beauty and remains the ultimate goal -to me/and many; but what a gigantic request we make of ourselves and our partners. Our cultured search for happily ever after, trickles down to our friendships, business ventures and other aspects of our lives we feel that we most hold on to till death. The art of successful and amicable separation was rarely sold with the fairy tale.

As someone who believes deeply in the vocation of marriage, it is my hope that all happily married couples will be cruising along till they’re old and grey, however, if they do not, I am slowly learning that a breakdown of values, and commitment somewhere along the martial journey does not take away any of the joy and the success shared in the marriage prior. This cultural shift in what successful marriages should be, moving away from longevity as the only success meter is potentially a key factor to creating healthier, stronger bonds within marriages.

How is that possible, you’re thinking… It requires vulnerability and deep honest conversations with yourself and your partner often to understand what your needs are in this season of life and how best they can be met. This openness can only come from a place of security and trust to be a true version of yourself with your partner.

Often, we get lost in the role of Wife/husband mommy/dad that when we begin to peel back the layers and understand what who we really are, the awakening arises. This spurs the conversations of ‘does this relationship serve me and the person I am evolving into’. These brutally honest conversations with ourselves and our partners can ultimately decide the happiness and longevity of the partnership.

If we are cultured from the onset, that we don’t need to force forever till death, in marriages, friendships, business the probability of us making better decisions as it relates to these matters would increase while simultaneously reducing the stigma and sense of failure that accompanies a divorce/separation. We ought to re-frame our definition of successful marriages, so we can learn the skill of letting go when things no longer serve our wellbeing. That we don’t need to commit till death in unhealthy situations to show success. Slowly, we can change the narrative of successful marriages to show, how joyful it is, how nourishing it is, and whatever other success metrics are of value to you and your partner and not just longevity.

Let us change the mindset to fulfilment, contentment and other indicators of success which are personal to us as the goal, when these are achieved, we can toot our horns for longevity.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on what is considered a successful marriage…is separation ok?


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