Monday, May 24, 2010

What's Love Got to Do With It?

For this posting it will be you, the readers, who write the bulk of it. Read on. A friend who just loves to ask strange questions of anyone whom he meets posited this one to a group of men: When did you first know that you loved your wife? The question engendered some off the wall comments and some straight answers, as well as raising some additional questions. The wives in question, after hearing the question, also had some comments to make.

Among the comments/questions:

I knew before I asked her to marry me or I wouldn't have asked.

Wasn't sure when I asked her but I knew for sure by the time we went to the chupah.

On our first anniversary when I realized.

You want the answer the wife wants to hear or you want the real answer?

Plenty of marriages where the couple didn't love each other before they got married and maybe don't love each other now but the marriage works.

Not sure if I'm defining love but I guess I loved her when I realized that no one else would do as a partner for marriage.

When I figure out what love is I'll let you know.

Love is a secular marriage idea. It doesn't figure as so important in a frum marriage.

What has love got to do with having a lasting marriage?

Women are more hung up on love being a part of marriage then men are.

You asked a man about love and you expect a serious answer?!

More important to ask when a person first realizes that they respect their wife. The love bit is just Madison Avenue hype to sell perfume and chocolate and flowers.

Sex and kids are why most people get married. I guess love comes when the first two aren't as important any more.

So readers, what say you? If you are single, are you looking for love to be there before you get married or after? Married readers, just how do you put love into the marriage equation?


Mike S. said...

I thought I loved my wife when we got engaged. Looking back after several decades of deepening feelings, I now know what a pale imitation of love that was back then.

tesyaa said...

This reminds me of what Prince Charles said when his engagement was announced, when reporters asked him and Diana if they were in love. "Of course," she said. "Whatever in love means," he added. And we all know how that ended.

Seriously, my friends and I who met our husbands in youth groups or camps or other natural settings were very sure that we (and our fiances) were actually in love. I don't know if it works differently in the shidduch world.

Rich said...

I guess my wife and I must be about your age. Back then we dated for about 8 months before we got engaged and another six months until the wedding. Yes I loved my wife before we got married but then we knew each other for a lot of time and that love had a chance to grow.

I kind of scratch my head when I hear of couples that date for six weeks and maybe see each other half a dozen times. They don't really know each other at all so how could they possibly love each other? maybe they are infatuated with each other but love needs time to grow.

JS said...

Geez. Many of those responses in the post really depressed me. How incredibly sad that supposedly love isn't part of a frum marriage or that love is whatever is left when the kids and sex are gone.

I think a marriage without love is like seeing in black and white. Sure, you can do it - but it's a pale imitation of the vibrancy and majesty of all there is to be seen. A marriage should be more than a man and woman who are housemates and partner in chores, income, children, etc.

I told my wife I loved her within about a month of dating. And while looking back I realize how cute or quaint that thought was given how much more intensely I love my wife now, I meant it then to the extent I understood what love is. The fact is, love is organic and should grow and expand over the years. And like a living thing, it needs to be nourished to grow. My wife is truly my best friend and that fact is an integral part of our love. We share everything and do most things together whether its going for walks on Shabbat or doing chores around the house. I can't imagine not having that level of closeness with my spouse.

I'm just hoping all those cynical responses have to do with an aversion to using the word love for whatever reason and that they have love though they call it by another name or let it go unnamed as in Fiddler on the Roof.

Anonymous said...

"Sex and kids are why most people get married. I guess love comes when the first two aren't as important any more."

I disagree. That is totally inconsistent with the concept of a bashert. Compaionship and love are why most people marry.

I also disagree that love isn't so important to a man. It is. They just don't talk about it.

Anonymous said...

If love is part of the secular idea of marriage, where does the Song of Songs fit, or was that just lust.

hi there said...

I definitely loved him before, but it was different than now. Later on in our dating and during the engagement (as well as a little bit after the wedding), it was love like butterflies and mush in me every time he was around or on the phone. Some people will say that's not love, but I say it is- just an immature kind that matures with, well, marriage.

Now, I don't have that crazy fluttery feeling every time he's around- nor would it be good if I did. If that was still going on, nothing would have gotten done over the last 2 years. But what we do have is much more intense and mature. It's there when we call each other during breaks; when I make him dinner and he washes the dishes for me; it's there when we attend to and play with OUR baby. It's the fact that we're a team, ready to face whatever life throws at us together.

I think (hope, really) that when people say that "it's a secular idea", what they really mean is that it's a secular definition. Love absolutely is important in a marriage! But not every expression of love is mature and lasting. One of my engaged co-interns (a secular Jew, engaged to a non-Jew) often rehashes wedding drama and fights she has with her fiance. From what I've pieced together, it seems that they have similar interests, but very different hashkafahs on both life in general and marriage. Far be it from me to predict anything about other people's lives, but based on what I know, the odds are against them. I realized that my husband and I really don't share very many interests, but it clearly doesn't matter, because we're together on the big things. My husband doesn't need to enjoy baseball for our marriage to work, nor do I need to enjoy Star Trek. What we DO need is to share goals- as Jews, as parents, as a couple. Working together toward those goals, respecting our differences and at times yielding to the other on the way, that is where I believe true love comes from. Although it should be there before marriage, it is definitely in its nascent form at that point and needs to grow.

Miami Al said...

Love and respect are critical to a marriage. It's the caring for them and respecting them that let's you get through problems. It's what makes you a team against the outside world dealing with trouble. And it's that ability to work through decisions together with respect.

Even more important than loving your spouse, remaining "in love" with them. That's much harder to maintain, and it helps keep your marriage fresh.

Taharat Hamishpacha is both a huge blessing and a curse to frum families. It's a huge blessing because it keeps the embers and flame alive. It's a blessing because when your are available, you can take advantage of it, when you are not, you can long for it. It's a curse in that by letting pure physiology govern your sex life, it's easier to not pay attention to your partner's needs, wants, and desires, since the time of coupling is somewhat pre-ordained.

rachel q said...

Very interesting.
We dated also a long time (for frum standards) 7 months + 6 month engagement. We thought we loved each other. Now we look back and see that we were naive. The love we feel now (6 years) is nothing compared to when we got married.

You can have a succesful partnership (raise kids and run a household) without love. But a real marriage that is more than the sum of the parts need real love. I've seen these

OTOH, you can have love and not a succesfull marriage. Wrong priorities, bad personalities, problems that couldn't be solved. I guess I don't believe in eternal love. You can deply love your spouce and for some reasong the marriage falls apart, even after 20+ years of love. I've also seen these marriages

The real question is what's preferable, a marriage that started with real love and went sour (to the point of divorce or worse) or a marriage where the spouces get along but no real love?
I don't have an answer

Anonymous said...

Third date. And I felt the same aboiut her at the wedding and I feel the same about her a decade later. I know more about her, of course, and there's a lot of "annoying habits" that maybe it would have been nice to know about earlier, but there's a lot of great things about her that I didn't know. Be it luck or good judgment, I made the right call.