Sunday, July 26, 2015

Don't Ever Fall In Love

Don't fall in love, ever.

Trust me on this.  I have been married to the same woman for nearly 34 years now. We dated for three months and were engaged for one month.  Doesn't that sound like falling in love?

Falling in love is like falling into a pit while wandering around the jungle of your life in the middle of the night.  And once you are in that pit, if the fall didn't break your neck, you are not getting out without a lot of effort.  And, while you are in that pit, you are easy pickings for any predator that comes along and targets you as their next meal.

And when the morning comes, and you wake up in this pit of love you have fallen into, you may not really like who you see in the pit with you.  Your new love-pit-partner may not be as physically attractive as they seemed in the dark of the night when you landed in the love-pit with them.  S/he may not be as witty or smart as you thought.  In fact, s/he may seem like the Heart song "White Lightning and Wine" was written about them, "In the morning light you didn't look so fine.  Guess you better hitchhike home."  Or like the premise of the movie "Coyote Ugly", which is based on the notion that sometimes, when you wake up the next morning in bed with an ugly stranger, you feel like a coyote caught in a trap and are willing to chew off your own arm to get out of the trap.

Hollywood movies and romance novelists like to promote wonderful, feel good stories about people falling in love.  In the books and movies, the romance is fast, the attraction is nearly frantic and overwhelming.  The characters are helpless to stop themselves from being caught up in the excitement and romance of the moment and "wham" they fall in love.

Unfortunately in many cases there is one or more spouses involved too.  And then, sometimes, the love story turns into a suspenseful murder story.  Like "Body Heat" where Kathleen Turner and Willliam Hurt fall madly, frantically, passionately in love with one another, but she is married to an older, rich man who refuses to just die off and leave the two lovers to the passion and romance that they so much deserve.  Or, perhaps you prefer "Against All Odds" where Jeff Bridges is the pro football player, Jeff Bridges, is hired to find the runaway girl friend (Rachel Ward) of James Woods.  At least in this movie, Ward and Woods aren't actual husband and wife, instead they are just embedded in a long-term romantic relationship.  Still, the love triangle acts like a black hole, sucking Bridges and Ward into its inescapable pull, and predictably destroying them in the process.

The bottom line of these scenarios is that someone is going to have their life ruined (or ended) because two people believe that falling in love is the greatest thing, and that love must conquer all.

Of course, who can forget "Fatal Attraction" where when Michael Douglas realizes that the passion of his affair is not as good as the steady relationship with his wife, he breaks things off with Glenn Close, only to have her stalk and physically threaten both him and his family.

But those cautionary tales still make the "stolen water" of adultery look sweet.
A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: 
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. 
But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
Proverbs 9:13-18

And again, they promote the notion that love is the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong, because whatever brings together two people who love each other, that cannot be wrong.  Right?

Even Biblical apologists at times try to gloss over the disastrous effects that came from David's taking of Uriah's wife Bathsheeba to his bed.

Falling in love also is a wonderful marketing ploy, not only for books and movies.  It tends to be the main fuel for the whole Valentines Day industry.  How many ads do you hear around then that talk about "falling in love" or "falling in love again?"

Now, after reading this much of my rant against falling in love, and given what I said at the start about my own whirlwind courtship and lengthy subsequent marriage, you may think that I am just a jaded, joyless, old curmudgeon, speaking from the depths of a bitter marriage.  That couldn't be further from the truth.

I am a hopeless romantic and I really, deeply love my wife and am happy to be married to her.  When the work day is over, I always hurry home to be with her and there is no one else I would rather spend time with than her.  But, we didn't fall in love.  We did something much hotter, stronger, more satisfying, and longer lasting than falling in love.  We chose to love each other, and we do it over and over again.

You see, the Hollywood and 5th Avenue marketing geniuses' ideas of love is not love, it is really just passion and sex.

Passion and sex are powerful sales agents. And, they are much more easily conveyed in ads, movie trailers and movies than is love.

Don't get me wrong, there was, and is, plenty of passion involved in the courtship between my wife and me.  But, we never let the passion push us into prematurely, or unthinkingly, deepening our relationship.  We both looked very carefully at each other and decided if we could stand the idea of being with each other every day even after the good looks and youth have faded away.  Fortunately for me, she thought she could still enjoy being with me.

You could say that we followed the dictum that says, "before you get married make sure you have your eyes wide open.  After you get married, keep them half closed."

So, my wife and I were definitely, strongly attracted to each other.  But both of us looked beyond the moment, the attraction and the passion, we looked beyond the whole "falling in love" thing.  And we decided we could love each other even when the heat simmers down and the bloom is off the rose.

Since then, we decide to love each other every day.  Just as when we were courting, I think about her during the day.  Sometimes she texts me or I text her, just because and just to let the other know they are in our thoughts.  We say "I love you" every day, more than once.  And we mean it.

We don't let others come between us, not friends, not in-laws, not any attractive people at work.  Not even our children.

We successfully managed to keep our romance alive through raising five children to adulthood.  During those years, we never forgot that the kids were there because of the marriage, not the other way around.

Now, we are "empty nesters."  And our romance is still burning as hot as it ever was.  We may not be quite as energetic lovers as we once were, but real quality can make up for a lot of low-quality quantity.  And even today, we sometimes find ourselves a bit "frantic" for each other.

I know it isn't the sort of thing to sell movies and romance novels, but it is the sort of thing to build long, happy and fulfilling lives with.  

Don't ever fall in love.  Instead, take control of your life and choose to love.  When two people choose to love each other, they never run the risk of falling out of love.  Because love isn't something that happens to you.  Love is something you choose. to do.

And while we are on the topic, let me say a few remarks about marriage.

The LGBT crowd has recently made quite a bit of noise about marriage.  What I find humorous about their dogged push for legally recognized marriage is that it comes after decades of denigration and dismissal of marriage as anything meaningful among the heterosexual community.  I find that funny because those who should have been champions of marriage have been among its biggest detractors.

Of course that diminution of marriage has largely come from the sector of the heterosexuals community that wants to enjoy all the benefits of sex without being hampered by the obligations that come with it, both naturally and legally.

Linda and Richard Eyre recently published a good article pointing out how the hetero community has largely discarded and denigrated marriage.
"... among the 96 to 98 percent of heterosexuals, most seem to be devaluing or completely disregarding the value of marriageThe largest threat to our society and to our economy is not the way people define marriage, but how enthusiastically and committedly they participate in it."
The LGBT community values marriage primarily because of the legal benefits it affords them.  Some value it because it also represents a level of commitment (legal, financial and otherwise) that goes beyond any heartfelt private or public exchange of vows which is only binding "as long as you both shall love" and the dissolution of which carries no more negative impacts than some heartbreak and some disappointment or disapproval among your friends.

The biggest vocal opponents of marriage are radical feminists.  The biggest silent opponents of marriage are hedonists.  And of course, Lucifer as I have mentioned in earlier posts.

Marriage, legal, binding marriage, provides a framework for the work of a lifetime.

It provides a foundation on which the emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of children can be based to give them the best possible chances of success in this life.  Don't just take my word for it.  See what all the studies have shown about the effects of a nuclear family, or its absence, has on the lives of children.

  • Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to be physically or sexually abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married, are less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as a teenager, and are less likely to be raised in poverty. ("Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences," Bradford Wilcox, Institute for American Values, www.americanvalues.org/html/r-wmm.html)
  • Children receive gender specific support from having a mother and a father. Research shows that particular roles of mothers (e.g., to nurture) and fathers (e.g., to discipline), as well as complex biologically rooted interactions, are important for the development of boys and girls. ("Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles," 2006, www.princetonprinciples.org)
  • A child living with a single mother is 14 times more likely to suffer serious physical abuse than is a child living with married biological parents. A child whose mother cohabits with a man other than the child's father is 33 times more likely to suffer serious physical child abuse. ("The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts," Patrick Fagan, www.heritage.org/Research /Features/Marriage/index.cfm)
  • In married families, about 1/3 of adolescents are sexually active. However, for teenagers in stepfamilies, cohabiting households, divorced families, and those with single unwed parents, the percentage rises above 1/2. ("The Positive Effects...")
  • Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the chance that children themselves will divorce or become unwed parents. ("26 Conclusions..." and "Marriage and the Public Good...") * Children of divorce experience lasting tension as a result of the increasing differences in their parents' values and ideas. At a young age they must make mature decisions regarding their beliefs and values. Children of so called "good divorces" fared worse emotionally than children who grew up in an unhappy but "low-conflict'"marriage. ("Ten Findings from a National Study on the Moral and Spiritual Lives of Children of Divorce," Elizabeth Marquardt, www.betweentwoworlds.org)
Marriage also provides the framework for the physical, social, mental, financial and spiritual health of the spouses.  Together, spouses can better prepare for retirement, both financially, physically, and emotionally.  As they work together, they can divide and conquer the challenges of life.  Together, they can manage to pool resources and build wealth needed for both the fun and responsibilities of life.

And, by the way, married people get more sex than single people.  Just in case you were thinking that wasn't the case.  And, contrary to sitcoms and Hollywood movies, when there is a foundation of years of trust and intimacy, and a commitment to each others' pleasure, the sex can be much, much better and more mind-blowing than the tawdry, shallow stuff that you may be seeing on HBO or pay-per-view.

And those who advocate cohabitation, living together, as a trial run for marriage, don't have a leg to stand on.  One, the statistics show that most cohabitations don't end up in marriage and of those that do, they are as likely to end in divorce as those where cohabitation did not precede marriage.

  • "Couples who lived together before marriage tend to divorce early in their marriage. If their marriage last seven years, then their risk for divorce is the same as couples who didn't cohabit before marriage."

And, those hedonists love to get the advantages of marriage that come through cohabitation, without being tied down with all those pesky legal, social and financial obligations that come with marriage.  In other words, they get to have the milk, without buying the cow.

And, if you are among those who think that premarital sex is okay, stand by for another article in the future.  But in the meantime, consider this.  What happens if you don't measure up to your spouse's former lovers?  Now, you have predisposed your marriage to have difficulties over sex, which could easily result in infidelity and divorce.

Even free sex isn't free.  You are likely to pay a heavy price for it, sometime in the future.

But, to return bring this all back to my main point.  Sex is not love.  Love may be manifested through sex.  Marriage needs sex to reinforce the bond between spouses.  But sex is not the point of marriage either.

Falling in love is really falling in lust.  It is about the powerful urge to have sex with someone else.  That powerful urge is a natural and God-given thing.  But, it is not to be taken lightly.  While it is highly pleasurable, its primary purpose is not pleasure.  Its primary purpose may not even be to produce children - given that most of the time it takes a lot of sex to result in one pregnancy.

Sex is given to help bind us closer together as man and wife.  Love is given to help us channel sex into the ways that build instead of destroy lives.  The only proper channel for sex and love is marriage between a man and a woman, where commitment, both legal, moral and financial, allows us to give our all in the bedroom and beyond to our spouse.

Falling in love is a lie.  It is a pit of destruction.  Choosing to love, and choosing to love only your spouse each and every day, is an elevated highway to profound happiness and success, both mental, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.

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