A rant inspired by Soren Kierkegaard’s article Either/Or ; a direct response to the characters’ ideas on love.
To write, to write, but oh, to write. One might easier give birth – or so says the man who will never imagine such a thing. Well, he might imagine it, but not accurately.
To choose or not to choose. The deception is that there is a choice to begin with.
So the married man, says author A, will regret his marriage. Marriage is boring, because it is not romantic; it is not exciting. And boredom, says author A, is the root of all evil. It is like idleness, but worse. It can only be cured by entertainment. Romance is in the passion of an instant. The moment when emotion, sense, and sensuality overcome one’s being and the person springs into action. It is entertaining in the sense that it is all-consuming, bringing pleasure and pain simultaneously and in various, fluctuating magnitudes. What better way to stay entertained than to fall in love? While falling, one is never bored – ask any skydiver.
But, Judge Taylor replies, marriage possesses the greatest love – the truest love – because it endures. And the key is in this word “endures.” To endure is to be longsuffering; to outlast each painstaking moment. Eternity is forever, and that is what marriage (a true marriage, a marriage of the souls where the “two become one,” as they say) is, the individual, loving, in each moment.
Loving, by the way, is an active verb.
Romantic love is the overwhelming feeling – it is the thing that makes your stomach ache and your vision blur; it makes your head light and your footsteps bouncy. It is encapsulated in the instant, or, in a brief span of time.
Emotions do not last.
It is as though the brain gets tired of building the neurochemicals which create romantic feeling. Instinct then gives way to thought; what was once unconscious is now deliberate. Love is an ever-complex, ever-detailed sculpture which the artist refines and chips and sands until death.
And ever after, some say.
Is it, then, an obsession? No. Romantic love is the obsession. The married love (which I will now call companionate love) is, rather, acceptance. But those are not opposites, you might argue. I reply that the world is not shaped into dichotomies – no matter how desperately Western culture tries to think in binaries.
Companionate love is acceptance of the spouse (or, significant other) as an imperfect being, separate from one’s self and beyond one’s control. Part of acceptance is the process of learning to love the imperfections; to love the whole person and not the image constructed and idealized in the romantic mind.
It is reality, or actuality, versus a dream. Although dreams may be based upon reality – and in some instances truer than reality – they are not, in fact, reality. Structuring one’s life and one’s relationship upon a dream is like building a house upon sand during low tide. It is only a matter of time before it is washed away…
So, Judge Taylor says, kudos to the married man, who loves each day, learning, refining, and never reaching the climax that romance literature epitomizes.
Does anyone else, at the end of a romantic movie, ask: so now what? He got the girl… so what? Does he keep her?
I think the Judge is right. Love is more then sensuality, and emotional feeling. As the commandment goes: love your neighbor as yourself. Loving strangers and neighbors – people who don’t necessarily share your interests, or give you orgasms – is a process. Even more so for the spouse after the passage of decades has made faces, sounds, and peculiarities all too familiar.
But this is by no means the final word.