Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This thing called love

Love is one of those mysterious and fascinating things. Everyone knows what it is or what its about, yet we're all painfully deficient in our understanding of it.

I am trying to put together some scattered thoughts about love (right now, context is relationships). I think that the two key notions in love are commitment and duration. I am not convinced there can be authentic love without duration and commitment.

I don't believe that love can exist apart from a shared history. So two people who've been married for ten years, when they say "I love you" to each other, "love" is articulating their shared history and does not refer to an abstraction. There is no love in abstraction, it has to refer to a past shared history.

My belief is that when people at a young age or at the beginning of a relationship say, "I love you" I think two things are going on there. First it is a promise to commit for a boundless duration. Secondly, and most importantly, for a "novice" to say "I love you," is to anticipate that sentiment in potential shared history. So there is a sense in which it doesn't mean much at the beginning because you can't take that love to the bank.

Which then leads to my idea that the idea of love is overrated in a marriage. I think you can throw out the abstraction of love and focus on three things: friendship, personality, and passion. Friendship is the key. It is not that common to tell friends that you love them, but of course the truth is that that is the case and it is manifest especially after many years. The ideal that marriages have to work towards is that of friendship.

As far as personality goes. I think this is huge. Personality types have the most effect on the outcome of marriages IMHO. Personality is how you are expressed and manifest as a phenomenon in the world and in your relationship. It's your unique way of relating to everything and everyone. This impacts how you give and receive friendship and how succesful your friendship with your spouse will be.

Passion-this is what I think is mistaken for love. I see passion as the favorable physical and psychological disposition to your spouse. This is not necessarily the "hotness factor" or "sexiness" factor. It is related to that but can be accidental to it. Your spouse may not pass the objective societal standards of physical attraction, but s/he absolutely does it for you. Even when you are both much older, the physical presence of that person is still a crucial element of the relationship. There may be times that that physicality expresses itself in sexiness etc, but the draw goes much deeper. Which is why, even if/when physical attraction wanes, there is no danger to the fundamental passion for the spouse.

Scattered thoughts, but the issue has always been of interest to me. Now, I've only been married for five years and yes, I am not an expert on anything so related. But so what? When has that ever stopped me from mouthing off with extreme confidence? :)

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