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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Pox on Love

This is another post on marriage. Ready?

Love should have nothing to do with the decision to marry or the decision to divorce, for that matter.
Yep, that right there almost makes me unAmerican. 'Cause everybody knows love is the only reason to marry. Be sure to use the sing-song-y emphasis on that italicized word, like this: luuuuhve.
Do I have to resort to the Greek lesson here? Does anyone want to hear another sermon about the difference between eros and agape?

I don't know when it started. Maybe with movies. Probably before that. We Americans seem to think being in love is a requirement for marriage and falling out of love is a reason to quit.

I flatly disagree. I don't believe in soul mates, or love at first sight, or only having one chance at happiness. Happiness is a choice. Unless you're married to Satan, a marriage can be good. And if the father of lies is willing to make it work, even that might turn out okay. Hmm. Maybe not.

Love isn't blind, it's stupid. People who marry are "stupid in love" not "blinded by love." They are intoxicated by some kind of chemical wash overriding reasonable brain activity and making them determined to forge ahead despite all warning signs to the contrary. My time in therapy only cemented this belief.

This same kind of chemical wash keeps us from smothering crying babies the first night. It has to be God-designed to allow for propagation of the species. So I can't fault people for thinking the presence of this feeling is a reason to marry or the lack of this feeling is a reason to leave. Oh wait, yes I can. We ought to know better.

Dare I offer a Biblical example? Deut 22:13-21. If a bride's virginity is doubted and then proved, the husband has to pay the parents a fee for dishonoring their daughter and keep her as a wife. Can you imagine how much fun that house would be to live in? Yet God commands His people to do it. Why? Because He's serious about the commitment of marriage, and He understands love is a verb, not a noun.

TT: All you Biblical scholars who want to give me grief about misapplying Biblical texts, feel free. It is an example of the importance of solid marriages to society, whether we practice it today or not.

Have you noticed love is the main argument in our current culture war concerning marriage? If love is the only requirement for marriage, why not allow anyone to do it? Oh wait, we are.

I read a story years ago about a Swedish woman who married a dolphin. How does that work? I mean, if she dies first, does the dolphin get everything, including the car? If that dolphin gets caught in a tuna net and drowned, is it murder? What constitutes adultery in that relationship? Where exactly are they supposed to live? Whose parents do they visit on holidays, and who gets custody of any children they might adopt?

Am I making my point here? Love has nothing to do with whether or not to marry.

Love is a symptom of a good marriage, not a precondition. Love grows. As children are produced, as problems are faced, as good time are had, love grows. You should love your spouse more at the end of your life than the beginning, and that only happens when the feeling of love isn't the main goal.

Now, I will acknowledge some kind of mutual attraction is useful. I would not care to enter into a marriage where I did not see the possibility of love growing (hence, "no" to Satan should he ever ask). But it is by no means impossible to have a great marriage even when love is sparse at the beginning.

So, if you possibly can, marry first, fall in love afterward. If it's too late to do it the smart way, don't worry too much. You have the rest of your life to really fall in love with the spouse you have.

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