My wife sent me this article (Romantic love–overrated and hyped-up) around or perhaps on Valentine’s Day. What can I saw? We have a robust relationship. :-)
In any case, I had it saved as tab for the last 2 months until I finally read it this past week. And it was actually very, very good. It also–unexpectedly–had something interesting to say about the gay marriage debate. Here’s an excerpt:
Amid all the violent homoerotic imagery in the same-sex marriage debate what I found strange about the whole argument was the idea that marriage was necessarily just about love, and that – even more bizarrely – people wished their love to be recognised by the state. But marriage isn’t the official recognition of love, rather a social contract.
In fact the link between romantic love and marriage is a fairly recent one, and is, in the wider human picture, an unusual though increasingly common one. Now even a premature reactionary such as I would not suggest the society-wide return to arranged marriages, but in terms of actual outcomes the modern model has been a failure. There has not only been a 50 per cent rise in people living alone in a decade and a half, but the percentage of university-educated women (those who would have once been considered a good match) staying childless is approaching 40 per cent, and the failure rate for marriages based on romantic love is high.
I still hope to write up my thoughts on gay marriage, although at this rate the Supreme Court will rule before I have my say (can you believe it?), but a short preview is that this article’s contention that romantic love is often selfish and a poor basis for marriage resonates with me.
I’m a huge fan of romantic love, and I love my wife dearly, but love is for marriage. Marriage is not for love. What I mean by this is simply that the feeling of romantic love that come from sacrifice, dedication, and fidelity are deeper and more meaningful than the chemical high of infatuation. You can build romantic love with hard work, empathy, and compassion. You can fill your marriage with love. But you can’t control infatuation, and if you build your marriage on that both the infatuation and your marriage will fail.