Love and Marriage

This will be the last post for the week – rehearsal dinner, people in town, and the wedding, I won’t have time to write again. But I will report when everything wraps up. I thought I would try to bring a measured assessment or some perspective to the notion of love and marriage.

I have been attending weddings since I was very young, always a “ring boy” never a groom (that photo is me in the back at mom's second wedding.) Even in the single digit years of being a cute addition to the wedding party, love was a notion of family and instant acceptance. There was no question it was there, or around, or near by.

The idea of “true love” began to perplex me the first time I watched The Princess Bride. It was a moment of epiphany going home from the theater that there was a different type of love other than True Love (TL). If you have to be specific about TL, this means there are unstable definitions of love, or an untrue love, floating around somewhere degrading what I thought love would be.

I am reminded of this moment after another wonderful and insightful discussion from Undercover Celebrity, Common Wombat, and Kiki of Revolving Girl (all blog writers I read daily and enjoy tremendously.)

The English language is limiting. Our friend the Common Wombat reminds us that there are dozens of names for the anatomy and the act of making love (or the dirty kind “the old hibbity dibbity.”) However for Love, not the act, we have Love, or the more elementary “Like,” as in I “Like” you. Which I will now reveal a true third grade conversation I had with a very cute girl named Rosy.

Rosy – I like you Paul.
P2 – I like you too Rosy.
Rosy – No, I mean I like you.
P2 – I like you too Rosy.
Rosy – You’re not getting this, I LIKE you.
P2 – I like you too Rosy.
Rosy – I LIKE you, kind of LIKE you.
P2 – Yeah, I like you too.
Rosy – I don’t like you. You just don’t get it.
P2 – Hey, look, something shiny on the ground. Sorry, what did you say?

Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed the blue print for every relationship I have ever had.

There are of course other languages to barrow from:
Hebrew: Ahab – impulsive love, Hesed – deliberate choice of affection, Raham - brotherly love
Greek: Eros – naughty or love of an object, Philia – friend or family, Agape – Gods love
French: Amour
German: Liebe
Italian: Amore
Spanish: Amor
Russian: Влюбленность
Japanese: 愛

But to define Love is like trapping it in a box to keep for your own observation and dissection. TL seems the least likely thing you would want to trap in a box – that’s why we have restraining orders and police. Often people over analyze things because they just can’t admit they don’t know what it is. So trying to understand TL in these terms was abandoned a while ago. This realization brought me to another level of understanding.

TL for the longest time was a great Nat King Cole song, a moment caught indoors on a rainy Sunday listening to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. At times it was captured in the lament of love by The Smiths or The Cure, maybe Kean or Cold Play.

I know what it is to not have it in my life. This point driven home in Forrest Gump: “Jenny, why won’t you marry me? I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” Even the most simple of minds know what it is when it’s not fully there.

But as I grew older, I became conscious of the disconnect between love and marriage. People get married for all kinds of reasons: companionship, similar experiences, fear of loneliness, lack of self identity, cows, or just to prove a point (like in The Graduate or being mad at your parents.) Marriage, the government, church and society, recognizing a legal obligation you hold to another person, is not love. But it certainly isn’t something I would enter in to with out TL.

True Love and a Marriage based on it, are both old fashion ideas in this fast paced, slam bang, live life “on the razors edge” world of mail order brides, drive through wedding chapels, and five minute match ups. Yes, I am an old fashion kind of guy who still believes in True Love and Marriage, and I am happy for others who find it. But it’s evasive, an enigma, and at times illusive. I can tell you all about lust, crushes, obsession, flirtation, the human condition, or the science of pheromones, I have been there – but when it comes to True Love and Marriage I can only tell amusing yarns on my adventure trying to find it. In the mean time I’ll refer you to Frank, Ella, and Nat.