Friday, July 13, 2007

Love Not A Reason To Marry

Often times a couple's lack of love for one another is not the reason that they are seeking a divorce. A lot of times its because the couple is incapable of working together with the nuts and bolts of married life, like splitting of household chores, communication, division of household expenses, etc. Sustaining a long and happy marriage appears to be less and less about loving one another, and more upon the ability to work with your spouse towards a common goal. Obviously love is essential too, but often times loving someone is not enough to sustain a marriage. The following article explores this phenomenon and takes a unique look at love and marriage.

Marriage, divorce and romance
Mike Hendricks
Saturday, July 7, 2007

Many cultures don't use romantic love as a reason for marriage; they opt for more practical considerations like dowries, economics, professions and occupations. But in America, for the most part, we don't do that. We base our entire future on feelings that cannot be measured or quantified. We get married because we've fallen in love.

We don't know how we fall in love or why we fall in love but we know that we do because our lives, our feelings, our emotions, and how we see and live in the world change immediately. We are overwhelmed by the most exciting, thrilling emotion in the world and we expect it to last forever.

Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't but most of us are prepared to risk everything hoping that it will. The question is what do we do when it doesn't? Some people stay in marriages even though the love is gone or worse, was never there to begin with, because of children, economics, family, reputation, status, religious beliefs or, far too often, a simple inability to make changes in their lives. It's amazing how many simply get stuck in the mundane and the routine. They would rather continue in a loveless relationship that's predictable than to challenge the unknown in search of that consuming passion and emotion of romantic love because it is sometimes unpredictable.

And even though divorce has lost almost all of the negative stigma that was attached to it 50 years ago, many people are still so concerned about what others might think or say that they put on a front to the rest of the world while dying just a little every day because they are denying themselves the true life force of being human; loving and being loved.

I don't know what would have happened to my marriage had I not moved to McCook or if my wife and family had moved to McCook with me.
We had been married for 22 years when I accepted a faculty position at the college and Linda stayed behind in Arkansas with our children because she didn't want them to have to change schools when they were in high school.
She and I had been best friends up until then; loyal and true to each other, and choosing to spend time with each other rather than with others. Our lives had literally revolved around each other. Then overnight, I was here and she was there and even though we ran up enormous telephone bills over the next five years and I put tens of thousand of miles on my Celica driving back and forth between Nebraska and Arkansas, it just wasn't the same.
We slowly and inexorably drifted apart emotionally until there was literally nothing left. Whose fault that was is really inconsequential; we both blame each other but it's not the blame that's important.
The end result is that we no longer had the emotions to hold us together through the rough times like we once did and, without those emotions, it's a hopeless cause. So we got a divorce.

Many people who know us are amazed that we remain good friends but those people simply don't understand the dynamics of the friendship we forged from the very beginning of our relationship.
I just spent a week in Arkansas with her and my two boys and we had a wonderful time with each other; reliving our past experiences, going places together, eating out every day, etc.
We know the romantic love we once had for each other is gone and is very unlikely to be rekindled but everything else we had and shared for a quarter century is still there and those are the things we concentrated on and talked about. We spent days talking about the experiences we had had as a family but not even a second talking about love and romance; other than the fact that neither of us currently have it in our lives, at least in terms of a person willing to reciprocate that love.

Are we better off without each other? Should we have stayed married? I suppose the answers to those questions will depend greatly on ones' personal perspective but for us the answer is crystal clear.
We shouldn't have stayed married because that intimate love connection we had for so long was no longer there and without it, there was no hope and no reason. Some people stay married because of fear of the unknown when, if they were truly honest with themselves, the fear of the known (a loveless, lifeless marriage) should be far more daunting, intimidating and just plain scary.

I was channel surfing the other day when I came across a new reality show that has to do with, of all things, why Scott Baio is 45 years old and still unmarried.
Because I teach love and relationships at the college, I had to watch at least part of it and the answer seemed to be he was afraid of commitment. His case is really not exceptional because the world is full of people like that, both male and female.
They like to have their little flings and add some excitement to their lives but when it comes down to actually committing and investing in a relationship, they simply can't do it. In fact, the very thought scares them to death.
So they stay in a situation where they don't have to commit or invest anything and convince themselves that's the best thing for them when, in fact, it's the worst.

Baio said his biggest fear was dying alone. But what many people in marriages and relationships don't fully realize or recognize is that they are also alone if there is no love, intimacy, or passion in their marriage.
So they may not die alone, but they most certainly will die lonely because they have no one to share their lives with at the very deepest level of love and commitment.

Being in love is the life-force that makes everything else bearable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been married 28 years. I can't count the number of times I have thought about how lonely I am. Yet, it is frightening to think about heading off into the unknown alone. I see the risks in staying and the risks in leaving. I applaud your decision to end your marriage. However, I end up in the what if's. What if I didn't give enough. What if . . . I am just not sure I am brave enough.