Love Suffices

It’s hard not to feel positively about love, even if it’s not going how you thought or wanted.

This, I think, is what it’s all about. I won’t give it context, because at least some of the people involved don’t want the exposure, but I think it stands alone pretty well.

It reminds me of a joke I once heard:

What would happen if women could move mountains?
Nothing! Those mountains are fine just the way they are!

And perhaps that’s the attitude to take about love. Look at love as it is, rather than as it could have, should have, would have been.

Love As Object, Not Objective

I know, there’s nothing particularly new to the thought that if you don’t put attachments and expectations on the events in your life you’ll be much happier. That’s old news.

But I don’t think that love gets that kind of treatment too much. We’re socialized to believe several things about love:

  • It’s overpowering.
  • If it’s romantic, you’re looking for “the One”.
  • If it doesn’t last until death, it somehow failed.
  • If it’s not shown in exactly the right way, it must not be true.
  • It alone will be enough to sustain you through any hardship.

All of these put a burden of proof on love. If you’ve said “I love you” in a romantic sense, supposedly you are suddenly on this path of dating, then engagement, then marriage, then family, then dotage (love that word. Not sure what it means, but it sounds fun, and I often feel like I’m almost there).

Love Is All You Need (as Long as You’ve Already Got Everything Else)

That's not to say I don't like a good love story...

Unfortunately, that cultural Disney-and-Romance-Novel-reinforced idea doesn’t really hold up under the realities of the world. With apologies to John, Paul, George and Ringo, love is not all you need.

I remember a Psychology 101 class I took while a single parent,  where the professor went over “stress percentages for marriages.” These were qualities of marriage that increased the likelihood for divorce. Things like poverty, more than one job, interracial marriages, young (teenage) marriage, marriage far from home, military couples, couples with more than one infant, couples with twins, you get the idea. By the time you added up the percentages, I believe my marriage (which at the time was long over) had something like a -270% chance of success.

Which, in a way, is a relief. When the odds are stacked that much against you, you don’t feel so bad when you fail…whups, see, there’s that word again.

I don’t believe love alone is enough to sustain a relationship. You can love someone and have external circumstances keep you apart, or discover that there are core differences that make you incompatible in spite of loving each other. That can really suck, because the love doesn’t care.

But maybe that doesn’t need to matter.

Love Alone

… Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love. – Kahlil Gibran
Much as I hate trotting out the old Prophet, the guy has some pretty pertinent verses. And it echoes what my friend said about “being positive” about love. When you just let love be what it is – regardless and including all the additional emotions – maybe it can be just something lovely to look at, enjoy, or failing that just be glad that it exists.
Something tells me that is not a habit that’s terribly easy to cultivate. Certainly not in the face of all the messages we have telling us that love should be this, that, or the other thing. But on occasion there are epiphanies such as my friend had above, where you realize that while love might not be all we expect of it…it is a pretty neat thing, regardless.
Maybe, with enough practice, that’ll be enough.
But practice…that’s for Mondays.


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