October 1, 2004
October 1, 2004

Marriage: What's Love Got to do With It?

Whatís love anyway? A chemical reaction the experts say: norepinephrine, dopamine, vasopressin, and oxytocin. And when the highs from those natural elevations wear off, is love gone? Our divorce rate states, yes.

A very wise twelve year old, who I wonít name, but still lives on L.I. and is a father now, once wrote an essay for his teacher. In it, his Mother read to me, such wise words as the love that existed in his family. I donít remember the details, but it went something like this: A bratty sister stole and ate his Halloween candy. His brother gave him a bloody nose and the other brothers ganged up on him and pushed him down the hill as a prank. His parents argued into the night, but were there in the morning to get them off to school. His last statement was profoundly moving. All of this is love.

I donít see any of the romantic love chemicals at work here. In fact, instead, he saw the secret of loving and living. Unconditional Love. Accepting people and situations as they are. Recognizing that annoying, irritating behaviors can be a form of love. Certainly, when we live closely with someone, their quirks and opposing personalities can get on our nerves. It is not easy to live with them. Today, when the cupboard door swung itself open for the umpteenth millionth time since my husband passed, I thought of the many times that my deceased husbandís actions, or rather in most cases, his eternal procrastination had exasperated me, and I smiled. Iíll miss the continually swinging wide cabinet, when I install new cabinets. There will be nothing to provoke me. Just as my husband is no longer here to rankle my patience. Our marriage was better than most. In 32 years we only had five disagreements which lasted quietly until the early hours until they were finally resolved. As a counselor, I had evaluated our long term marriage. I was, and am, an extrovert, gregarious, spontaneous, love to travel, need change to keep me fresh and young and like to help people. He was an introvert, a planner, a plodder, disliked the thought of any change including any activity. Although when I actually motivated him to travel or attend a play, he liked it. He didnít particularly want to or feel the need to help anyone. You get the idea. We were different. Yet, how had we managed our lives to overcome all these hurdles? One way, was an unspoken agreement that should the other person feel strongly about something, that the partner would concede, taking turns on the major differences. On the daily ones I had just decided that they were of no great consequence so Iíd go along. I remember one time when my daughter said, ďMom means when she says, ĎWhatever you want Dear,í that she does not want to do that, but she will because you want it.Ē Again children see the truths before us.

Lastly, the most important manner of solving a disagreement, is with the creative solution where everyone wins. I went back to college full time with three children at home. My husband and I had concurred that it was a traditional marriage with me a stay at home Mom. Therefore, I put my three kids on the school bus, then left for college and attended my classes in time to meet the bus again when they got home. I continued all the duties of housewife, mother, and wife and obtained my degrees.

One can begin anew by each listing interests, desires, goals, and values and then find common ground amongst them. Then follow through with similar actions. Along these same concepts remind yourself and your spouse frequently of his/her good qualities and the reasons for your union.

A more realistic view of marital love needs to come into our culture. If it has gotten dull, liven it up with something novel and exciting.

You chose.