~~To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part~~
Our agreement was never formalized in that fashion; never solemnized in any sort of legal or spiritual ceremony -- and so we have no vows to fall back on. That is the fact. And still...
As I look back at the path we have traveled in these months, over a year of months strung together with still more months laid out ahead of us, I am reminded of the work that vows (or the intentions that are embodied in vows) do in a relationship. Vows are promises, made in good times, against the coming of hard times. The making of a vow is an acknowledgement (although we almost never notice this) that things cannot always be as good as they seem in those beginning days when love is new and fresh and glorious. A vow says, in short, that we know that things will suck in time, and that we're good for the sucky times. That's it, pretty much.
Our relationship, for all of its alternative features (the poly and the BDSM), is very much the same as one bound by some sort of traditional vows -- we made promises, sometimes implicitly, dedicating our lives to one another. Wrapped up in those promises were all sorts of hopes and assumptions and aspirations -- and, yes, probably illusions. I am certain that most couples, in the beginning flush of love, believe that theirs is somehow a star-crossed, meant to be, nearly perfect connection. We surely did. We felt that way, and we lived in that dream. There were days and years of really good times when we felt as if we were the most perfect, the most passionate, the most compatible lovers EVER!
And ... we knew it couldn't last.
And ... we knew that dreams are a flimsy thing on which to build a life.
And ... we knew that, even as we embraced the possibility of our dream, life was furiously digging away at the foundations.
Life does that; and not just to us -- to everyone. Some people, it is true, get to cruise along for big, long stretches of relatively smooth sailing. If that happens for you, if you and yours have a run of good luck, it is probably easy to convince yourself that the way ahead is likely to be just as easy and gentle with you. And why not believe that? What purpose would be served by wasting sweet and peaceful days with worry about what may be in some yet unseen future? We lived and played in those soft, sunny, happy days with complete abandon, rejoicing in every amazingly heady moment. We were the luckiest people on Earth.
Good times. We felt that our lives were good, and our love strong and powerful, even as we were buffeted by a host of storms: health challenges, deaths of family members, financial setbacks, career struggles. We got knocked down more than once, but we held onto one another, kept the promises -- and soldiered on, living our happy dream in the midst of all the crashing and blowing around us. Foolishness? Maybe, but maybe not. Remember that the traditional vow reminds us to love one another for better and for worse. Remember that our love is to remain sturdy and steadfast through times when we are feeling richer and poorer. Remember that we are admonished to love one another in sickness and in health. For us, a decade of living and loving have proved that we are resilient, determined, and probably even sincerely stubborn.
This last passage? Worst ever. It has been a terrible, scary, miserable, exhausting, frustrating, and lonely time for us. We've battled with each other more than was good, but we've battled beside each other enough of the time that we have made it this far. If you've read right along, you have probably sensed the depth of our struggles more than anything else. We have frequently been too wounded to even talk about it all. Surely the usual stuff of most BDSM/sex blogs has been notably absent here; because, frankly, it has been mostly absent in our lives. We have worked to stay alive, minute by minute -- and we have worked to stay together. We are still here.
We have never, ever done one single thing the "right" way. We didn't, obviously, get "married" in the traditional way. We don't have a "regular" sort of family. We don't subscribe to the mainstream value system, especially as that is manifested in typical religious practices and beliefs. We have never done BDSM, or Master/slave like other people say it should be done -- no contracts, no elaborate negotiations, no safewords, no protocols, no rituals, no maintenance spankings, no fancy titles, no task lists, etc. We aren't perfect, and we don't figure to be gurus to anyone. We are just what we are ... fallible humans in love and willing, in spite of everything, to keep doing it "for better or for worse."