Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Comment on post, "Thoughts on Marriage"

The original post can be found here:

The following is my (rather longwinded, I apologize) comment on it:

You make some excellent points about what marriage IS and IS NOT.

"The love that makes marriage work is not a feeling of love. If it was, then feelings come and go and so would marriage. Marriage love is a DECISION to value the other person as highly as yourself...."

You later talk about 'true love,' and that, to me, is an ideal--and not the element of the type of love a marriage demands, in spite of the often evanescent feeling, as you were describing it.

"BUT that is not true love. Love is self-giving. That is, when it does not benefit yourself and only the other person you still do it."

The love you were describing is more accurately defined as "unconditional love," I'd think, though. The connotation that the term "true love" holds is a bit more idealistically sappy and romantic--a love that does incorporate that feeling and transcends that agreement involved in maintaining a marriage. Within that ideal, that feeling of love does persist forever, it never does fade. Who am I to be bold and declare it unnattainable? I won't do that here, although I've been guilty of it before. (Sometimes I can be a bit extreme.) But to be more accurate, it'd probably suffice to say it is rare, if not impossible. So even in its absence, a married party is obligated by the vows they took to make it work anyway. That's only part of why this marriage thing is risky business.

I do admire that, and I respect it. But I don't want it. I want to be free to abide by my whims, acknowledge a situation for what it is, and act in accordance with that as I go, aware that at any moment, it could all change. A marriage, however, demands the dismissal of such whims in the name of mutual agreement to forever, no matter what. And that "no matter what" business is quite a bit of pressure--far too much for me. Some call that commitment-phobic. I don't mind.

That said, I do believe there's something to be said for the validity of other types of love aside from unconditional. That missing element does not necessarily make love less true, (to me, that is--I understand that idea could seem ridiculous and take a bit of arguing, but I'll leave it at that anyway.) It just makes the love unsuitable for the sustenance of a marriage. The quest for true love and the pursuit of a successful marriage are quite arguably drastically different things, as you insinuated:

"People think you get married just because you are in love."

And I love the summing up of marriage as a vow "... to never give up on each other."
This is a big dang deal. This is nothing to be taken lightly. Many in our society have forgotten that, and the problem lies in that we as a society continually fail to make that distinction as our fascination with falling in love grows.

Don't get me wrong--as I was getting at before, there's definitely something to be said for the feeling of love and allowing relationships to grow out of that. But, as you emphasis, this is not what a marriage depends on, and should thus not be used as the basis of its survival.

There's even something to be said for being selfish, I believe. It's been a personal declaration of mine for years that I never want to get married because I very consciously want the freedom to remain selfish. I'm a self-proclaimed serial monogamist who sincerely believes that "it" works as long as "it" works and who has no desire to push anything any further than that. Enjoy it for what it is while it is, and for what it was when it's gone, but when it's gone, move on. This is inaccordance with the feeling of love. I'm a fan of it, fickle as it may be.

Many people take this serial-monogamist approach, but are not so honest or self-aware to acknowledge that they're doing so. That is, many enter into a union based on little more than the feeling of love, in the hopes that this ideal will be sustained for all eternity and that it is this that will make thier marriage work. But no feeling can accomplish that--just as you stated--only a significant amount of work and drastic level of dedication and committment can. But out society has become one who gives up and parts ways when that feeling does not suffice, and this is where we've gone wrong in calling this union and that a marriage, all willy-nilly: When we consider that a defining component of marriage is that all-important "forever" requirement, a marriage that ends was never a marriage to begin with. Is that fair to conclude?


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