How To Fall In Love Again
In the past year or two I’ve gone through a change which I can only describe as “falling in love again”. With Logan. The whole thing has surprised me, actually, because I was feeling nervous about the Seven Year Itch. And then the year came and went and I loved him more than ever. Maybe it’s because he fathered my beautiful daughter. Maybe it’s because he so valiantly provided for me this past year. (One time, because we had budgeted all our money for food, gas, etc., he gave me some of the birthday money he’d been saving for two years so that I could go have coffee with friends.) Maybe it’s because he got a smashing new haircut. But I think it actually has more to do with a broader concept of love.
There are so many decent men and women who think that they’ll find satisfaction in the arms of someone besides their own spouse. And there is so much bewitching hope in that idea. It’s the promise of something new and bold and tantalizing. And the first sweet tingle of sexual attraction. It’s all there. The comfort, the flattery, the unknowing. The naiveté.
When Ulysses was traveling to the island of the Sirens, he knew that he would go mad when he heard the voices of the women on the rocks. He also learned that the insanity would be temporary, lasting until he could get out of earshot. He didn’t want to do something while temporarily insane that would have permanent bad consequences. So he put wax in the ears of his sailors, tied himself to the mast, and told his men to keep him on source no matter what he yelled.
As we observed before, longitudinal studies reveal that two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced. Two-thirds! What can keep marriages together during the rough patches? The vows. A public oath, made to the world, keeps you “tied to the mast” until your mind clears and you begin to understand things better. It keeps you in the relationship when your feelings flag, and flag they will. By contrast, consumer relationships cannot possibly endure these inevitable tests of life, because neither party is “tied to the mast”. **
The truth is that romantic love only works with one. It’s just the way it was made, like the way snow can only fall when it’s cold, or that our earth revolves around the sun. As Keller later says, “Fulfillment is on the far side of sustained unselfish service, not the near side. It is one of the universal principles of life.” We have to decide and commit to one person, and we have such trouble doing this. But once we decide and then work it out, that is where the sweetness resides. The sweetness without the bile.
These ideas have really inspired me. I think that the reason I feel more “in love” with him is because…well, because I have loved him all these years. I love thinking that the very act of being “tied to the mast” gives us the capacity for greater, deeper, more fulfilling love. (Isn’t it crazy what the study found about unhappy marriages becoming happy if they just stay together???) So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting weekly for the next month about love. (Twoo wuv.)
What do you think? How do you feel about being “tied to the mast” or the prospect of being married? Can you imagine finding fulfillment through “sustained unselfish service”? I’m looking for good articles, books, or guest bloggers on the subject, so if any of you have something you’d like to share, or have a book or article that was particularly helpful/inspiring, please let me know!
**All quotes from The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller (New York: Penguin Group, 2011). I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I think I underlined every other paragraph.(Art by Herbert James Draper)