Recently I’ve had some very interesting, though very saddening, conversations. I don’t know what it is about me, maybe I’m just a good listener, but people tend to open up and tell me things that they most likely would rather just not talk about. It’s an interesting position, and one that I at times regret. These days, almost always.
In any case, I’ve noticed now personally something that I’ve only previously been anecdotally aware of: the confusion of love as passionate attraction, and the definition of a properly working marriage or relationship as one in which that passion is alive. I suppose that it’s so ingrained in us by our typical cultural intake (by which I mean the vileness and intellectual vapidity that is entertainment-industrial escapism) that I doubt there’s any way to rescue people who have already been deeply immured in this quagmire but by the grace of God. But there is likewise a kind of recalcitrant clinging to unreality lying behind this, a denial of one’s own changing through time, that may be the root rather than the tree of the whole situation.
There seems to be no understanding that love has phases in a relationship, and that the very active passion of youth will give way to a more sedate relationship as time goes on. Heaven forfend that these people actually realize and admit to themselves and others that they’re aging, and that neither their minds nor their bodies are the same as they were when they were twenty-two years of age! At forty-four, one’s perspective had better be different, as one’s body certainly will be, as at sixty-six and at eighty-eight. To deny such is unrealistic to the point of ridicule, yet is is so very common. In the autumn of life, it should be understood that the comfort of a long-present partner, when all else around one will have been changing ceaselessly and frenetically, will be one of the greatest comforts of all–a stable and constant companion, one who’s weathered all the storms of life at one’s side. What a thing to look forward to! It is the unchanging, after all, that we ought to appreciate most in our lives. Yet, again, our culture teaches us that change is unequivocally good by default, and yet that paradoxically the retention of unrealistic youth is somehow a good thing. This is tied to the image of progress in the secularist gospel of social evolution, and in what one might call the socialist gospel of religious liberals which both seek to establish the Kingdom of God here and now through legislative means (though neither would necessarily name their goal thus or admit to this goal). All of this shows willful ignorance, a recalcitrant self-blinding of one’s eyes to aging, to change, to entropy, all the while proclaiming a paradoxical freedom to retain their youthfulness and not have their will thwarted. It is the mentality of a herd of two-year-old children. They would like to ignore their mortality, which is nevertheless always present, and their dissatisfaction in being reminded of changing bodies and relationships is unacceptable in the extreme. Their discomfort with this situation then expresses itself in dissatisfaction with the marriage that reminds them every day of this change, with the idea that out of it, somehow they’ll be younger, freer, happier, when in reality they will be starting from scratch, old and half-worn, deprived of the long-lasting stability and comfort later in life of one constant companion through thick and thin, through joys and sorrows, agreements and arguments, successes and failures, lives and deaths. It’s so selfish and so sad.
They ignore the possibility of letting love, real love, grow and change in their growing and changing lives with someone else. I find this deeply saddening.