By TOM MAY
How long will love last? Whether this weekend will see the fifth date or the 25th anniversary, the question haunts nearly every relationship at one time or another.
Will you still love me tomorrow? And most of the world answers, “Probably not.” Reports tell us that nearly 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce. Although technically it isn’t true because of the time distribution of marriages, it still probably best represents the real numbers.
In 2012 census information showed that 3.4 out of 1,000 American people are divorced, a drop of 0.2 over the decade. It is important to note that there are fewer people married also — down to 6.2 from about 8 out of 1,000.
We don’t get any better at love and marriage. The divorce rate for first marriage is 41 percent; second marriages 60 percent; and third marriages 73 percent. The 20 to 24 year old age group divorces most often at a 37 percent clip.
Will you still love me tomorrow? Carol Klein asked that question musically when she was 17. She learned to play the piano at age 4. When she was 8, she performed on a New York television station’s local Sunday morning children’s program.
In junior high, she was cutting demo albums with her friend Paul Simon in a recording studio owned by Don Kirshner. In high school she dated another singer/songwriter, Neil Sedaka, and she began writing songs.
And write she did. Joel Whitburn of Billboard Magazine would later call her the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century, having written 118 hits on Billboard’s pop charts. Some of her hits included “Chains,” covered by the Beatles, “The Loco-Motion,” performed first by Little Eva and later by Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue, “Up on the Roof” by the Drifters, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees, and “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin.
She would one day win four Grammies, be inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and become the first woman to be awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
One of her 25 solo albums would hold the record for most weeks at No. 1 by a female artist for more than 20 years, finally bumped from that pedestal by Whitney Houston’s soundtrack for the movie “The Bodyguard.”
Just before high school graduation, Miss Klein changed her name to Carole King. And while Neil was writing, “Oh Carol I am but a fool; Darling I love you, though you treat me cruel,” Carole was penning “Will you still love me tomorrow?” to her new beau, somehow knowing that the answer would eventually be “No.”
Can the answer to that question ever be “Yes?” According to an article in Psychology Today, author and counselor John Gottman says it can if the couple learn how to resolve the inevitable conflicts.
“Many couples believe the claim ‘we never fight’ is a sign of marital health. But I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences.”
Although there are other aspects of good marriages, Gottman says the four warning signs of a crumbling marriage are more important: undo criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling — completely shutting down communication. Gottman claims that the positives in a relationship have to outweigh the negatives by five to one or the marriage is doomed.
Does the religious belief of a couple impact the marriage? Although being a person of faith is not essential for making a marriage work, it may be the glue that holds the marriage together during difficult times.
Author and pastor Tim Stafford, in an article in Christianity Today, said that in times of trouble “you don’t ask whether you want to live with this person forever, you ask how.” The “whether” was settled when you offered your vows before God.
John and Stasi Eldredge, in an incredible book titled “Love and War,” describe marriage as the perfect storm that brings together the basic differences between men and women. Marriage, with the help of God, blends individual styles of relating, past habits and tendencies, and our own brokenness. “We live in a great love story, set in the midst of a war. Marriage is fabulously hard.”
“So tell me now and I won’t ask again. Will you still love me tomorrow?” I may not want to. It won’t be easy. But if I want to be right, I’ll answer “Yes.”
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast. Reach him at email@example.com