Sunday, January 6, 2013

Love & Marriage

I still kind of marvel at this fact:  When I first met Shdwkitten, I had recently purchased a slightly used Yamaha FZ6… which turned out to the exact same bike Kitten had been looking at buying.  This means one of two things:
(a)  It was fate that we were to come together as soul-mates, destined to spend the rest of our lives together…
(b)  She married me for my bike.

I know I’m running a little early for Valentine’s Day, but as it happens, last month a couple of our friends got hitched… and next month we have another friend getting married… meanwhile, I read of the engagement of Puppy Stryker, a stranger apart from the world of blogging.  So it all set me to thinking…

When I was in college I had this mentor: an philosophy professor who was this grouchy, crude, funny, off-color, old curmudgeon… and quite brilliant, even wise in his odd and ribald way.  He had written a book on philosophy and romantic love (which, he would joke, made him an expert lover).  In that book, he makes a useful distinction between “being in love” and “loving.”

“Being in love” is a state of emotion – it’s something you feel.  It’s a state of being you experience, in which you are essentially passive – not active – i.e. it’s something that just happens to you… often even overcomes you.  When you say, “I am in love,” you are reporting something that you are experiencing, not something you are doing..

Last month, at the aforementioned wedding, my Owner and I found this verse by Rumi which we both really liked:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”    ―   Rumi

You can’t will yourself to “be in love”… but you can seek out those barriers you’ve built in yourself that prevent you from feeling love.

But there is another side of this.  In some ways I think it’s maybe the even more important side for marriages and long-term commitments… b/c even in the best marriages the feeling of love must ebb and flow.  There are peak moments where you love that person so much you just want to garb on to them and hold them tight forever and ever and ever… and there are also times where you need a break – some personal space, please!  But most of the time you’re somewhere in-between, just existing comfortably together.

So that’s why it’s important to see this other aspect of love, the active aspect, something you actively do: “loving” someone.  This is (to put it in somewhat un-romantic terms) a social contact. And agreement between two (or more) people to treat one-another in a certain way… no matter what… in rich or poor, sickness or health, hell or high water…

When my Owner, the lovely Shdwkitten, and I got married, we had already been together for two years and feeling a lot of “being in love.”  To me, our wedding represented a commitment to “love” one-another in this ongoing, active sense.  The best statement of that commitment I’ve seen is a piece written years ago by our dear friend NCMaster which we used as our wedding vows, speaking them together… which I want to re-post here for you.

Commitment to Our Journey

We each vow to devote ourselves to the success of us.

We each vow to accept the responsibility of making our relationship work.

We vow to live as a synergy… believing that the two united is greater than each alone.

We vow to treat obstacles as stepping-stones to growth.

We vow to dedicate some time each day to us.

We vow that “we” will take precedent over “me” or “you.”

We vow to support each other at all times and in all things.

We vow to be open and truthful w/ each other and w/ ourselves.

We vow to deal w/ issues as they arise and then put them away.

We will become what we practice each day.

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