Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ushy Gushy (or lack there of)

I was reading Another Damn Wedding's post on music and cheesy love songs today (totally agree, Lyn!) and it reminded me (in a back asswards kind of way) of a post I wanted to write. So here goes, kiddos. Beware of tangents and blabbering!

I just recently finished reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert and I would love to do a full book review of that, but I just don't know how. She brought up so many great issues that I fear I'd babble on and on and on and couldn't stop. Also, I flew through that book! So I'd like to read it again and process it a bit more before trying to put together something meaningful to say.

But I do want to touch on one topic: love. (yeah, ok, just the biggest topic EVER!)

Gilbert pretty much says that love is a horrible reason to get married and I am going to go ahead and agree with her. Love is flimsy. Love is changing. Love is an emotion held in a human heart - not the most stable of carriers. In fact, one of the most unstable carriers. Love offers no security, no guarantee. Love is indeed blind.

But I think Gilbert, in this instance, is talking about love in the sense of romantic love. The love that washes over us when we first meet someone, when they fill our brain and consume our thoughts. That love is not stable and can come a go, leaving a broken marriage behind. That kind of love is dangerous to marry for.

Gilbert tells the story of an elderly couple who lived by her while she was growing up. They were married for years and years. In her old age, the lady had alzheimer's and her husband took care of her. He did things that she used to enjoy, trying to provide whatever happiness he could to her now.

Talking to the old man one day, Gilbert asks him how he and his wife fell in love. But to her surprise that’s not how their story went. He was young and trying to start up his own farm. Someone gave him advice, saying that he must have a good wife to build a successful farm. So he choose a bride and they got married.

No love in the beginning of that marriage, but what love evident in the end while he cared for his wife. The moral of that story: love does not a good marriage make, but a good marriage fosters love.

That’s where my head is at right now. Love. What loves means, what love should provide for a marriage, and the different kinds of love. As Helen Fisher, a scientist of love, tells (check out an awesomely interesting 30 minute TED talk by her), there are three kinds of love.

1) Lust
2) Romantic love
3) Attachment

Lust is that basic desire that Fisher describes as evolving to get us out there looking for potential mates. Romantic love is that obsession, that craving to be with someone that Fisher describes as evolving to focus our mating energy. Finally, attachment is that sense of calm and security with your partner that she describes as evolving to “allow you to tolerate another person long enough to raise a child.”

We praise romantic love and that ushy gushy crazy kind of love, but leave out the less glitzy phase of ‘attachment’. (maybe it just needs a new unattractive sounding…) But that's what marriage is. And the mister and I are there. We've been together long enough (5.5+ years) to get past that romantic love stage and into the nitty gritty how-do-we-stand-each-other phase of working out the details. How do we manage money? How do we maintain that spark of romantic love? How do we deal with each other's family? Do our long and short term goals align? How do we make them align? and so on and so forth.

And this is how Lyn's post at Another Damn Wedding got me thinking (see, back asswards). We are not an ushy gushy couple. We don't really like ushy gushy songs. But that's what everyone expects. The honesty of where we are at in our relationship doesn't really sound so good in a song! I'm thinking lyrics along the line of "Merging our accounts and taking on your debt! Fighting over space in our one tiny closet!" Not so great. So how do we choose music for those important and 'significant' moments - like a first dance?

Or how do we write vows? Whenever I start them in my head, it always sounds like such a downer. Because when I think about our marriage honestly, I'm scared. And to get over those nerves, I have to think honestly about the trouble we will face and about why I'm willing to face that trouble with him. Thats what it really comes down to, but again, doesn't really sound the best. "Baby, shits gonna hit the fan, but I want you to be there with me when it does! And darn if we won't clean up that mess together!"

Pass Nana a hankie, folks, cuz this ones a tear jerker!

We will proceed carefully and take time to pick music and write a ceremony fitting for us. It will be romantic in some senses and I'm sure we will jerk a few tears, but I'm guessing that our vibe will be less of an ushy gushy ridiculous love fest and more of a happy, honest, thoughtful ridiculous love fest.

Cheers, all! Hope this made some sort of sense. Next time I'll pick a topic a little less large than 'love'! ;)


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  1. Hey, those lyrics rhyme at least! I really liked this post. Your head is so level you could hang a picture frame on it!

  2. i so feel you on this one. so don't scale it down! it's nice to know we're not alone!

    we've been putting together our ceremony this's also super unmushy...the readings we've picked are all so practical and about how we know that loving someone is a lot of work and doesn't always feel so lovey. it's ridiculously unromantic but it feels more authentic than talking about how every time i see him i fall deeper in love....vomit
    i'm not sure what we're going to do for vows yet, but i'll post the readings we like soon. i'd be interested to see what you guys end up with too.

  3. ugh! i just wrote a long comment and i think i deleted it! annoying!

    ok. let me try again.

    1. I love Helen Fischer. She's so smart and interesting, and very pleasant to listen to.

    2. I think Committed along with Tara Parker-Pope's new books "For Better: Science of a Good Marriage" will be part of my marriage reference shelf. I flew through Committed and would like to revisit now that the wedding is behind us.

    3. Weddings are happy happy moments. Most of real life is mundane day to day, spiked with happy times, and dealing with hard stuff in pockets. And I think ceremonies should reflect that. I laughed at your vows, but you are getting to the point of why we marry... to share a life with someone, no matter what comes their way.

  4. Where do I begin?

    You really nailed it. You've said what I've been trying to wrap my head around and write for weeks now.

    I think the only thing getting me through this wedding planning is knowing that at the end of all that shit, I'll be married. And that's what I want. I want it so bad that I don't care about paper table cloths or mosquito bites or rain anymore or crazy August heat.... this sounds like a great book. I need to read it.

    We're doing traditional both Catholic and Jewish vows at the ceremony. We want to write our own, but we're really not comfortable saying such deep things in front of a bunch of people. I think we'd like to share our own vows with each other during our Yichud.

    And dude, how close is August?! :)

  5. @hitched - aaww, thanks! Thats very reassuring to hear!

    @Davanie - I'm very interested to see what you come up with and will try to share what we come up with as well! We've really been working on it, so hopefully we'll have something to show for it soon.

    @Maura - I'll have to check out that book! Thanks for the suggestion! I'm really excited to switch my energies from wedding planning to marriage planning - including my reading list!

    @Angie - Yes! August is SO close! And I really like your idea of traditional vows in the ceremony and then personal vows in your Yichud. (I wanna do a Yichud! that sounds awesome) I am also kinda uncomfortable saying deep things in front of people. Ok, I'm uncomfortable saying much of anything in front of people. Me = bad public speaker and nervous wreck in front of audiences.

  6. I was directed here from Angie's (awesome) blog and I'm glad I was - this is a lovely post on a complex subject. The conclusions that I draw over and over from my ponderings about love, as well as from reading your post, is that as much as we try to pin down just what exactly love IS - by defining, categorizing, delineating, and such - when it comes down to it, every couple creates their own kind. It always sounds supremely cheesy when I say it like that, but then again, when I think about the type of love I share with my fiancée, I realize that she and I are inventing a way of being in love and making small adjustments every single day we spend together. To me, that's the beauty of it all - just as genes and fingerprints are unique, so is love. We all do it differently, we have varying degrees of success at it, we all place different degrees of importance on certain aspects of it.

    This is not to say it isn't a valuable exercises to try to define love - in fact, I find that process to be rewarding and fascinating.

    Thanks again and I'm excited to start following your blog!

  7. I totally agree with the folks ahead that you've nailed it. Never heard it better than: "Baby, shits gonna hit the fan, but I want you to be there with me when it does! And darn if we won't clean up that mess together!"

    Slight tangent: A close friend of mine was engaged and recently split up with his fiance [it was really messy]. Anyway, his girl called me after and was really upset about them not staying friends...but they weren't friends to begin with? They jumped in head-first and were engaged after two months.

    I get it that not everyone is in the situation where they're close friends with the future-spouse before they started dating...however, becoming best-friends is part of the process.

    My mom has some confusing thoughts about romantic love because of some weird situations...and she asks me why I love Isaiah every once in a while. My answer is always: He's my best friend, there isn't a person in the world I'd rather spend every moment with, we never get tired of each other and every second is better when he's a part of it.

    I loved your post, sorry for the usual long response, but your thoughts are so provoking, can't help it.

  8. Excellent post. We're in the same place right now, trying to write vows that are honest and that don't make us want to gag. We've been together 7 years so the romantic love phase is long gone and to be honest, I don't miss it. I think, at least for me, that phase is so euphoric because you don't know if this person is going to stick around when the shit hits the fan. In fact, you hide as much of the unsavory shit as possible. Speaking as someone who's had to work through abandonment issues, I'll take attachment any day.