Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reflections on Love and Marriage

I've continued to watch HBO's amazing dramatic series Tell Me You Love Me and to be struck by just how true-to-life it appears to be about intimate relationships. It seems to me that many couples, like those depicted in the series, are compelled more by their lustful attraction than by genuine love to rush into marriage, and before they know it, they're pregnant or have screaming kids running around, the thrill is gone, and little else remains to keep them together.

Each may finally see the other not through a hormonal haze but with enough objective clarity to realize that not only do they not really love each other, but they also don't really even like each other. Or perhaps one (or both) of the spouses changes so much over the years, for better or worse, that s/he no longer has the qualities that drew the other to her/him in the first place. And so some of these disenchanted couples simply get a divorce while others go to marriage counselors and try to patch things up and often end up divorcing anyway after all of the "therapeutic" revelations that dissolve what was left of any pretense of physical attraction or romantic love between them.

I'm grateful that I married as late in life as I did, without being heated to feverish folly by the flames of youthful passion that burned and scarred me in my more naive past, and that I didn't enter into my marriage with a rose-colored perception of my wife and with quixotic expectations that our marriage would ensconce us in a Utopian paradise that forever and completely fulfilled all of our personal needs and desires and deliver unflagging security and bliss while the world around us raged on. As silly as this sounds, I think many people do enter into marriage with these conscious or subconscious expectations and place so many demands on their spouses and their marriages that resistance to failure is futile.

I, on the other hand, believe that, rather than initially placing my wife on a pedestal from which she can't help but fall over time, the better I come to know her, the higher she rises in my esteem, the more I appreciate and love her, the more grateful I am to have her in my life, and the more I want to provide for her and please her in every way. It's not always easy, and I suspect that it's harder for her than it is for me, but I don't expect it to be easy, and, paradoxical though it may seem, that probably makes it a lot easier than it would be otherwise.

It may well be true, as has often been observed, that it takes hard work to keep a good marriage going, but it has to be some of the best kind of work there is.


Tom said...

I neither have HBO nor am I married, so why I am commenting I'm not sure, but it occurs to me that drama depends on conflict -- thus, the fiction we see about life is skewed to being unreal, even when the effort is an honest one to be true-to-life.

Nagarjuna said...

Your point is well-taken, Tom. Yet, it seems to me, perhaps mistakenly, that this series may well be unprecedented in just how realistically it DOES succeed in portraying a huge number of intimate relationships and in how masterfully it accounts for how and why so many of these relationships go sour.