October 19, 2008
I love you. Three powerful words. They change lives. Are they real? Unlikely. Men and women blithely utter these three words as easily as politicians promise tax cuts. Do they mean it? Odds are, no. The test below will tell you for sure.
Half of marriages end in divorce. What is a divorce, really? Besides being a legal process and a destroyer of families, it’s a biopsy on a marriage, a diagnostic evaluation of a failed union. On the alter, bride and groom pledge love as the primary component of their wedlock. As petitioner and respondent in a dissolution, which the wife initiates 70% of the time, they bicker over the loss of assets and children — not love. So, the biopsy reveals no evidence of love. What happened to it? Did it just vanish?
Unlikely. People marry for a variety of ulterior motives — money, lifestyle, loneliness, security, convenient sex, career, appearance, parental pressure, legitimate children, and Green Cards — none of which is love. In fact, in the entire history of marriage, love as a uniting force is a relatively new concept, and a weak one at that.
My contention is that love in a failed marriage or relationship was not real and never existed. To use a scientific analogy: If love is the chief component of marriage, it cannot disappear into thin air, without a trace. Think of love as having a binary property: either it exists or it doesn’t. By the same token, glass is the chief component of windows; it can’t just evaporate one day, defying all laws of physics and chemistry.
There are people who believe they’re marrying for love — but only because they don’t understand its meaning. Almost any dictionary mentions “passionate affection” in its definitions of love. But, most of us have experienced passionate affection, numerous times, with our spouses and paramours. If we’re honest, though, we’ll admit that those encounters weren’t necessarily love. So, a big problem is that, by and large, we don’t know the meaning of love. It’s a nebulous concept. Yet, we recite it, believe others who pledge it to us, and base wealth-depleting decisions on it. Total insanity.