How about redefining the concept of love instead?
There’s this woman. She has been chasing real love for 25 years. I think she still hasn’t found it.
There’s this guy. When his wife was pregnant, he went crazy about another woman. He is still with his wife, but fooling around with somebody else. He’s in love again. Everybody knows this guy.
Love isn’t Princess Aurora’s wedding. And a substantial number of grownups tend to forget that. How do we keep it real with our kids and instill proper expectations so that they don’t live in a parallel universe until 30?
We have to be clear on the concept first. This is how I see it:
Getting married to his/her money
For some people, happiness lies in affluence.
To me, the whole point of money is to get things quicker and easier. The rest of it is just gloating over your fancy properties, having paintings you cannot fully understand, and trying not to get bored or unhappy.
The problem with your rich partner’s wealth is that it always remains theirs, no matter how generous they are. Unless you planned a divorce before you get married, so you just put up with them for several years…
The desire to love and be loved is innate and essential to every human being. We all crave affection. For most of us, having a good relationship equals having a fulfilling life. To decide to deliberately deprive yourself of this quality is shooting yourself in the leg.
Also, money doesn’t make you contented unless you are really poor. Otherwise, it can buy you happiness when you give your money to somebody else. When you help them and make them happy. According to an experiment his team conducted, Michael Norton reveals in his Ted Talk that “spending on other people has a bigger return for you than spending (money) on yourself“.
The happiest person in the world is Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, not Jeff Bezos.
This is an unreasonable obsession with someone who may not even be in love with you. When some people find their “ideal“ partner, they feel they can move mountains. Every little thing around them reminds them of their “love“.
This kind of love isn’t selfless. In fact, it’s very selfish. It is about you, not about true love. Infatuation is an emotional “easy way out“ to make yourself feel better. Your object of desire (the person) is there to make you feel happy and complete. Although very intense, it usually doesn’t last long. Once you get to know the person’s shortcomings, the spark goes away and life is hard and boring again.
Trying to find true love in romance
Romantic love makes you feel nothing is missing thanks to the natural “cocaine” your own body produces. When you are in love, your brain cells release dopamine. It creates feelings of euphoria and bliss. But after 12-18 months, your body stops producing this hormone; so, you feel the passion is gone.
For millennia people have wanted to find their other perfect half. This is one of the dominating myths since the beginning of European civilization. The first written evidence of such belief originates from Plato’s Symposium:
There used to be the third sex (the androgynous race). The gods were afraid of these four-legged creatures, so they cut them in two. This way they could prevent the androgynous race from taking their power away. Eros, the representative of romantic love, makes everybody want to reconnect with their second half again.
In his essay about romantic love, Mark Manson reminds us how the whole story dominated Western civilization for several millennia. In the Middle Ages, knights had platonic relationships with married noblewomen. And in the 19th century with the industrial revolution, people didn’t have to conjoin farms anymore because they could find work in towns. So, everybody’s feelings mattered now. You could get married just for love. With the 20th century feminism, a woman could finally choose her own partner.
Add a little bit of Holywood and Disney, and the sad Little Mermaid doesn’t turn into the foam of seawater to save the Prince’s life. At the end of Andersen’s fable, she has to serve mankind for 300 years to finally get an immortal soul. In Disney, she gets a pair of new legs for good and a rich handsome guy. Isn’t that a good deal or what?
Love as a partnership is hard work.
It is a compromise. To accept someone’s flaws because they are a part of them but they don’t threaten you. To show empathy and be supportive. To take your part of the responsibility. To show respect. To know when to shut up because there’s just no use.
Although far from perfect, Eastern marriages have a great advantage over Western partnerships: they are based on trust, not fleeting emotions. Their foundation is the partners’ similar set of values, patience, and willingness to build something actively.
What do we teach our kids about love then?
Love exists but not in the form of your expectations. A loving relationship is not a present but something that you have to work on.
You just don’t look for it everywhere. Love is not only what you feel towards your partner but also your children, parents and siblings, friends, town, books, music, and your pastime. The more loves you have, the less will you crave for the magic of romance.
Love doesn’t equal getting high or feeling complete. It doesn’t solve all your problems. It is giving as much as it is receiving affection.
Love is practically everywhere:
“No, you can’t eat one more sweet. You need your guts and teeth.”
“Be careful how you drive.“
“You mustn’t skip that medical check.”
A half an hour’s chat on the phone with your friend when your kids give you a break.
Loving your dog.
So, let’s tell our kids:
Love is not just feeling it, love is doing something about the relationship. Being truthful, generous, and kind.
You don’t look for love. You give it and then you receive it.
You give love to the person next to you. But you also give it to yourself.
I wrote a children’s book about a lonely bird searching for love. It is a little blackbird who lives on a farm and grows up into something ordinary and beautiful. Check it out: