In an earlier article we took a look at ‘mutual desire’. Here we’ll focus on what follows after the issue of ‘mutuality’ has been established. During the process of finding a lifelong helpmate we go through certain phases in developing the relationship. Though there are many we’ll just look at those that apply to our topic at hand.
First we begin with what I call the ‘Investigatory’ phase. This is your basic dating, hanging out, observing and interacting to see how you mesh together. That is.. if you mesh together at all. If all goes well someone stands out in the crowd and hopefully that ‘Mutual Desire’ element is present. If not at first, sometimes it comes later. But without it a relationship just isn’t going to happen. After this comes a period I consider the ‘Trial By Fire’ phase. This is where the two of you have decided to “give it a chance” and begin to exclusively build a relationship with one another, yet still without that commitment of marriage binding anything together. This could be also be considered an investigatory phase where you -really- begin to see each other as you are and not just under “date” circumstances.
Making it through the ‘Trial By Fire’ period is pretty much the acid test of the relationship. If you’re going to have some good, healthy arguments (see article; “How To Argue Like Cats & Dogs”), if you’re going to discover those aggravating habits and special little nuances that you love so dear.. now will be the time. Spending time together and speaking honestly are the two best things you can do during this period. Faking one’s behavior or holding back one’s feelings will only provide an unsure foundation for future situations. Once, or if.., the two of you have made it past this phase comes what I term the arrival of “Forsaking All Others”. This is some serious stuff we’re looking at now.
With the investigating, choosing and trial periods behind and two people still facing each other in committed passion for a continuing love, this “Forsakement Of All Others” phase helps to properly shape the future definition of that big “C” word.. commitment. (Often followed by that other big “M” word.. marriage.) Marriage has been defined many ways. Some good, some not so good. In our context here we will put the issue of ‘forsaking’ in the forefront since I believe it is too often neglected.
What does it mean to ‘forsake all others’? Plainly enough it has to do with both an observation of the mind and a decision of the heart. On this planet of ours we have several billion people walking about on it at any given time, give or take a few million I suppose. Generally speaking, roughly half of them are of the opposite sex and theoretically a large percentage of them.. were you to meet them, would be people you could just as well grow to know and fall in love with given the chance. Theoretically speaking of course. What is more likely is that there are roughly another 5,000 to 20,000 people of the opposite sex you may personally encounter during the rest of your life, among whom you could find many that are attractive to you in some way or another. To ‘forsake’ as a conscious yet heartfelt decision is to look at the person whom you love standing before you and say with all your heart, soul and being, “This is the one person I desire. Of all the others on the face of this earth.. I forsake (put away) all others from my heart to desire this one and only person for the rest of my life as my helpmate.” As I mentioned earlier, very serious stuff and often neglected when considering commitment.
While it is one thing to desire each other mutually, and yet another thing to experiment walking in that exclusive relationship for a probationary time.. it is quite the leap to go “Beyond Mutual Desire”. For this is when the relationship moves beyond the immediate gratifications and sets its eyes on the future, thus making the present joys take on a greater sense of Substance. For no matter how enjoyable and carefree the love may be for the moment, if there is no confirmed, long-term mutual direction for the relationship in its exclusiveness and perseverance then the heart is clever enough to recognize it could all be gone by the next daybreak.
Yet we often times not only allow such a near-sighted perspective but actually engineer it so as to avoid the issue of hope. For if our hopes have been crushed in the past we tend to protect ourselves from disappointment by avoiding such hopes altogether. And here is where love requires courage from us. For love hopes all things and in order to hope we must accept risk. The two are inseparable. Yet risk does not mean that we shall surely encounter the worst, only that we are willing to extend ourselves to reach out for more than can be guaranteed by the present. This is why I myself have a fondness for anniversaries, even in relationships. Each anniversary is a milestone that says, “That which we hoped upon for our future together has thus far proven to be worth the risk.”
Loving someone, and being loved, in a lifelong relationship is a joyful, encouraging, difficult, upbuilding experience when known with mutual kindness, respect and gentleness. It is not merely a matter of finding a lifelong playmate with whom we can split the rent. And so it is that we are a bit closer to knowing what we desire when we are made aware of what love will require of us along the way.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.