So embarrassing. Totally forgot to post this yesterday! No real excuses, but I guess it's better late than never!
Jennifer Roback Morse, an expert on love in the age of "hooking up", quotes 40-year-old Lori Gottlieb who is writing about the phenomenon--and necessity--of "Settling for Mr. Good Enough".
Gottlieb starts out by saying that in our 20s and 30s we're looking for that perfect someone to complete us. But as we age, if we're still single, we realize that to some degree we're going to have to settle. But then she goes on to say that perhaps this isn't a bad thing. That settling, in and of itself, can actually be a more mature kind of love. Here's how she explains it:
Love is a single reality with different dimensions that are needed or emerge at
different times. One dimension is necessary to attract a person to another, but this becomes less necessary over time and especially as one matures. This is eros, or the "madness" that intoxicates, displaces reason and drives a person powerfully toward another. It is the central theme for movie romances and modern sitcoms.
But for all its thrills, this dimension is not enough. In fact, on its own it becomes an obstacle to the maturing of the relationship. We see this played out all the time. Love is reduced to its caricature, to the amount of gratification that each can take from it. Bartering begins: "I'll do this if you do that." "I will stay with you as long as the sparks last." "If you love me you will let me do what I want." "I won't have children with you until I have had my career and spent my youth." "You can have children but I am not going to let this cramp my style". "I will absorb all you can give to me, your good humour, good looks, money, sensuality but I am not prepared to give you anything back." It destroys the relationship or at worst leaves spouses in a permanent adolescent-style union.
The other dimension is the reaching out of one person to the other. It is a love that is, indeed, ecstasy -- not a momentary sensual intoxication but an exodus out of oneself, seeking liberation through giving oneself to the other. It is a journey toward authentic self discovery and happiness. This is played out in different ways: the sharing of hopes, dreams, values, desires, sorrows and disappointments, successes and failures, laughter and tears, and of our sexuality by pleasure giving and childbearing.
I think she has it just right. So often we are expecting our husband to "be" Mr. Right. We are waiting for him to complete us, to sweep us off our feet, to make us feel wonderful.
But what if marriage is really not about that? What if God didn't intend marriage to make us happy as much as He did to make us holy? To teach us how to love, to forgive, to compromise, to think of another human being before we think of ourselves?
This doesn't mean married people won't be happy. Indeed, I think the best happinesses of my life have come from being married. But if I were simply seeking after happiness, always asking, "is he meeting my needs?", I would never be happy. It's only when I'm able to be selfless, to think of Keith first, that the marriage works.
That's what marriage is supposed to be. I think with the world fixated on this fairytale love we forget that it's more about giving than receiving. So if you're feeling distant from your husband today, I know it's tough. I really do. But try, even if it's difficult, to show him love. You just may find that happiness can come your way after all.
What about you? Do you have any advice for marriage? Why not share it with us? Simply go and write your own post on your blog, and then come back here and fill in the Mr. Linky with the link that goes directly to your post. Thanks so much!
Labels: loving, marriage, wifey wednesdays