Thursday, June 01, 2017

Temporary Insanity

In my last post I wrote about love, and I described it as "the condition by which we care for others more than we care for ourselves." I stand behind that 100%. Unfortunately many people these days confuse love with what I (and many others) call "lurve"... as in "... but we're in lurrrrrve."

Lurve is merely romantic infatuation. It has very little to do with Love. Unlike love, lurve is all about you. Talk to someone one who is "in lurve"...
  • "She makes me feel so..."
  • "I feel..."
  • "My heart..."
Lurve is all about me, me, me. It's not love at all. And it's worse than that. People "in lurve" do not make clear decisions. Even Shakespeare knew it: read Romeo and Juliet. People "in lurve" are self-destructive, not because they are caring for someone else, but because of the way the self-destruction makes them feel. It is an insidious, twisted parody of love. It leaves people behaving in this sort of ridiculous fashion so aptly illustrated by Bruno Mars:


[excerpt] 
I'd catch a grenade for ya 
Throw my hand on a blade for ya 
I'd jump in front of a train for ya 
You know I'd do anything for ya 
I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain 
Yes, I would die for you, baby 
But you won't do the same

Note that none of this is to actually defend or care for someone, but purely because it's asked... or worse, simply thrown at the object of infatuation; whereas a clear-headed person knows that love is long-term, and that to care for someone else you must first be equipped and prepared to do so.

I offer that lurve is nothing less than bona-fide temporary insanity.

It is temporary in that it always wears off. And when it does, it often leaves the people so stricken with the realization that they don't even like the person that they would have "died for". Sometimes (as in the song) they know this even as they're still "in lurve". That lurve is temporary is why the present divorce rate in America is 50%.  Put another way, as many as 50% of American marriages have not ended in divorce yet.

Our ancestors knew that this infatuation we now casually call lurve was divorced from common sense. A person could not be trusted to look after his or her own best interests when under its influence. Until well into the 20th century it was still social norm for a man to ask a woman's parents for permission to marry. And it was the social norm for them to reject layabouts, louts, and otherwise unsuitable suitors. The parents were the gatekeepers who kept their daughter's interests in mind, even when their daughter's mind was temporarily incapacitated by luuuurve.

And it worked. Marriages lasted, and divorce was the exception, not the rule.

--==--

In some places, this is still the norm. Today I related a story to my wife. As an IT consultant, a very large percentage of the people I have worked with over the last twenty years have been from India. A few years ago, one of my co-workers (for convenience I'll call him by the pseudonym of "Sandeep") told me he was returning to India. I asked him if his work visa had expired.

"No," he replied. "I'm getting married!"

I told him I thought that was wonderful, and asked him what his fiancée was like. Sandeep responded that he didn't know... he had never met her. His parents had arranged the marriage.

--==--

At this point in the story, my wife looked aghast. "You mean to tell me he didn't even know what she looked like, or whether he would like her or not?" She told me that she couldn't imagine having to "submit" to a "forced" marriage. I asked her what she thought about that, and she said she didn't think much of it. I bet her that she would change her mind when I finished the story...

--==--

Sandeep was born in a culture that reveres their elders for their wisdom and life experience. He loves his parents very much, and he knows that no matter how old he gets, they will love him intensely. He trusts that they would always look after his best interests, and do their very best for him. He knew that in choosing a wife for him, his parents would make the best choice they possibly could, using all of their experience and hopes for his future and that of all of their grandchildren.

I saw Sandeep's face. I heard his voice. He did not reluctantly return in fear and trepidation at being "forced" into an arranged marriage. Rather, he looked forward with excitement and anticipation at the prospect of meeting for himself the perfect woman that his parents had chosen especially for him... the very same excitement and anticipation felt by expecting parents toward a baby who has not yet even been born.

Whether a newborn is thin, fat, ugly, or has all of his fingers and toes has nothing to do with a parent's love; it doesn't depend on anything so superficial. So it was with Sandeep and the perfect wife he had not yet seen.

--==--

My wife stared at me for a full thirty seconds, slack-jawed. I could tell she was thinking of our own children.

"I never thought of it that way. I understand it now. It's different. But it's beautiful."

Yeah. It is.

2 comments:

  1. LOVE that unseen baby analogy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Thanks.

      And yet, I know that you disagree with the "50%" statistic. While it's true that first marriages have a better chance of succeeding than second or third marriages, I'll stick with the statistic because it's marriages and not people that are being counted; and because those that have been divorced before have much less excuse for repeating past mistakes. ;)

      Delete