Romantic Love is a Myth

I recently read a blog post that had a quote from an article that really resonated with me. It boils down to what the article and blog called Hauerwas’ Law: You always marry the wrong person. My wife, of course, demanded to know just what I meant by that 🙂

Part of my thoughts on the subject have to do with “falling in love” and “falling out of love.” When someone “falls in love” there’s a flurry of emotional and physical processes that result in changes to a person’s biochemical makeup. Feelings of euphoria, happiness, completeness, etc. are common, and it seems as if every waking moment could be happily spent gazing into the other persons eyes.

We first experience that rush of feelings as grade-school children – crushes are common, but fleeting, moments in a child’s life where they develop strong emotional attachments to other kids or adults in their lives. Come middle school and high school, these feelings may be reciprocated and turn into boyfriend/girlfriend relationships (which, for the majority of people, are fleeting as well – statistically, very few people end up marrying their middle or high school sweethearts).

It seems to me that some people end up confusing those moments of infatuation with love. They move from one relationship to another in their adolescent years, always looking for that rush of emotion that comes in the very earliest stages of a relationship. When those feelings start to fade (as they always do – it’s impossible to stay in that “falling in love” emotional state forever!), they decide that they must have “fallen out of love” with the other person, and break off the relationship. They then move on to their next sure thing, positive that this time the emotional rush won’t fade away.

This quest for the ultimate object of our affection can continue into adulthood. Don’t we still see serial monogamists marrying, divorcing, then marrying again, all in an effort to find their elusive soul mate? I propose that what they are looking for – that perpetual feeling of falling in love – will always fade with time, leaving them wanting more. Hence people (celebrities seem quite prone to this!) who are on their fourth, seventh, or tenth marriage and still can’t commit to their partner – what if they “fall out of love” again?

So what do I think people really want out of a relationship? I believe it’s love, but not the starry-eyed, all-consuming passion of love’s first blush. That kind of love has it’s place in every relationship, but it’s not the ultimate end of love. Full, mature love is more than our feelings – it’s a commitment to love the other person by sacrificing for them, by accepting them for who they are, and by challenging them to become better people.

In an adult relationship love does the same thing. We help our spouse become a better person. We challenge them to go beyond themselves and reach for goals they never imagined. We support them in their trials, comfort them in their sorrows, and rejoice in their triumphs. But we do it all speaking the truth to them in love, always at the ready to sacrifice our momentary happiness for the ultimate joy of a life lived together.

So I do think that most people marry the wrong person – people change and grow all the time, and the boy or girl you marry today will sometimes look and believe very differently from the person they turn into five, ten, twenty-five or fifty years down the road. We end up with our soul mate, but that soul-mateness is born out of the shared joys and trials of a marriage lived out with the commitment to stay with them for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part.

So did I marry the wrong person almost sixteen years ago? Probably. 🙂 Is the woman I’m married to now the right person? Yes. 🙂 And both of us are becoming – a little bit more every day – the perfect soul mate for each other.

Blessings & Peace.