A certain question has been haunting my contemplations of late. It’s one I wouldn’t have asked a year ago – I was too much of a hopeless romantic for such “depressing” thoughts. But these days, I wonder, is love enough? Can love alone sustain a relationship, or are we asking too much of it?
I subscribe to the notion that love isn’t merely a feeling as much as it is choice and a commitment. I’m a big believer in the necessity of logical thought as a complement to emotions. I believe that finding love is an adventure rather than a search for a predetermined road you mustn’t miss.
But loving a person well doesn’t always mean staying with them. Sometimes it means leaving; sometimes it means establishing firm boundaries; sometimes it means making the difficult decision to not be their go-to person. I don’t think that loving someone with your whole heart guarantees the success of your relationship. You can love someone with your whole heart and still wound them terribly. You can love someone with your whole heart and choose not to be a part of their day-to-day life. You can love someone with your whole heart and not like the person they choose to be.
And then there’s the phenomenon known as the arranged marriage. Love is an afterthought, and choice is nonexistent. But somehow, these relationships tend to last a lot longer than the ones where choice is a key factor. Maybe it’s because divorce is still taboo in the cultures where arranged marriages exist, or maybe it’s something else that we haven’t quite figured out. All I know is that I’m doubtful of the ability of this thing called love to hold two people together through the worst and best.
Even within the church, where our model of love is one of selflessness and purity, divorce rates are just as high as in the unchurched demographic. If our so-called godly love can’t keep us together, then what on earth does? Is it forgiveness coupled with a short-term memory? Is it respect? Brutal honesty? Sheer determination to stick with it regardless of the situation? A willingness to set aside your own preferences? Being friends and not just lovers? Humility?
I think I hear the beginnings of a brief interview series with older couples who’ve lived more years together than I’ve been alive. Well, maybe not that old. Also, while I’m fully aware that I’m in no way near the ranks of those super awesome bloggers who get actual responses to their questions, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. So leave a comment if you’re so inclined!