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What if relationships came with an expiration date?

Given that I’ve been married for, like, forever, this idea is going to seem pretty hypocritical. Except it’s not even an idea. Just a thought experiment.

What if from the moment you and your partner made the big commitment to one another—whether it was at a big-ass wedding ceremony or just something you said to one another with wine in the shadow of a lovely bridge—there was a 7-year expiration date on that commitment? At the end of 7 years, everyone in our culture would understand that the commitment no longer held and you were both free as gazelles.

You would, of course, be free to re-commit to one other! But you’d be equally free to move on.

The point of the ending of your commitment—and here’s why this is such an interesting idea—is you have a get-out-of-jail-free card. Hell, you already ARE broken up!

And this is huge because now you can think about why in the world you’d want to be together in the first place. Not making excuses for staying together—“He/she really does try as hard as possible...”—but realizing, for example, “I really am happier and function better with Jo than without them.”

And THIS means you’re forced to ask yourself who you really are 7 years after you first committed to each other and what you really want.

Yeah, you love Jo, but do you really want to sign on for another 7 years of what Jo has to offer? Or another 7 years of how little Jo has to offer? Sweet, sweet Jo, who pretty much always harps on the same things all the time?

And have you thought about how much self-control you have to exert to fit yourself into the exasperation of your relationship? The patience you’ve had to show with the dozens of ways Jo has of somehow not being there? The patience you had to show with Jo’s increasing impatience with you?

The slimming down of your shared life together, just to make it work?

I know, whoa!, this sounds so negative! But it’s only negative if it’s real and true. And if it is real and true, then, hey!, the 7-year expiration date is here to come to the rescue. Imagine if clothing you no longer liked and never wore anymore just...disappeared from your closet after not being worn for 7 years. Automatic decluttering!

So what this exercise is really all about is...fuck habit. Fuck inertia. The hell with being stuck.

Give love a chance; give yourself a chance! Think about what you’d be looking for if you were starting over, and then ask yourself if sticking with your current partner makes sense.

And now you tell me: if you found out that your current commitment had expired, would you re-up? If so, why? If not, why not? I’d love to hear.

Heading towards New Years, this is a time for new beginnings. Or re-beginnings. Whatever works best for you.

Next time we'll talk about just that: how DO you begin again with the same person?


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