Friday, December 14, 2012

On Romantic Love and the Duration Thereof

From my hero, describing the start of her romance with her husband:

"...But that same afternoon after my break-up, he told me he was going to walk to Wawa’s (the New Haven version of QuikTrip) to get a Coke, and did I want to come? I did. We walked to Wawa’s, then back to the law school, and sat on a bench beneath some blooming magnolia trees. He said something completely incoherent, then took my hand; this was the first time we ever touched. At that moment, if he’d asked me to marry him, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised, and I might well have said “Yes.” (We did get engaged several months later.)

Now, so many years later, is it the same? Yes and no. Yes, because I still love him passionately, and more deeply, because I know him so much better. No, because he’s passed through my heart and into my soul, and he pervades my entire life, so now sometimes it’s hard to see him. Married people are so intertwined, so interdependent, so symbiotic, that it’s hard to maintain that sense of wonder and excitement..."

And this:

"When we first met, I honestly wondered whether it would ever be possible for me to read when we were sitting in a room together; I found it so hard to concentrate that I couldn’t make sense of anything more complicated than the newspaper. Now, I find it hard to tear myself away from my work and my email to hold up my end of a marital conversation."

She and her husband love each other very much, I've no doubt, but I believe (from what I can tell of it so far) her description of making an ongoing life with another person is dead on. As always, her writing style is so naked and unashamed that it's like reading my own thoughts, only edited by, say, Sylvia Plath. Or possibly Anais Nin.  There's a great passage describing a sympathetic listener in "My Old Man and The Sea": "It's like going out to dinner with yourself." That's what Ms. Rubin does for me; she takes me out to dinner with myself.

Should your partner be able to do that for you as well? I'm not sure. That seems like a special skill that really a very few people have in this world; which means it may not be a practical requirement that you should look for in a life partner. I do believe strongly that your life partner should make you a better VERSION of yourself, but that's not necessarily the same as being the kind of sympathetic listener that attracts people to them like moths to a flame.

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