Thursday, August 16, 2012

Willoughby Syndrome, Part I

When I was in high school, one of the oft-squealed-over movies my friends and I used to watch was "Sense and Sensibility."  (We loved movies where people could be unfailingly polite and devastatingly rude at the the same time.  And the abundance of gentlemanly men with handsome faces and table manners only added to our love of all things Jane Austen.  Not to mention the swoon-worthy British accents).

But, my friend and I had a disagreement:  I thought the ending of "Sense and Sensibility" was perfection.  (Spoiler alert!  But if you haven't seen this movie or read the book by now, what's wrong with you?)  The impetuous Marianne ends up with the kind and decent Colonel Brandon (who deeply cares for her) rather than the dashing John Willoughby, who fathered a child out of wedlock and then abandoned Marianne for an heiress with a large bank account.

My friend hated the fact that Marianne and Willoughby did not end up together, and nothing would convince her that this was the right ending.  She thought Marianne and Willoughby were meant for each other.  They shared a passion for life.  He was handsome.  He read poetry to her.  He understood her.  Colonel Brandon was too old and too boring.

I saw it much differently.  Yes, Willoughby was handsome and exciting, but Colonel Brandon was humble.  He was kind.  He treated everyone with dignity.  He sought to be of service whenever he could.  His actions showed Marianne that he loved her, while Willoughby's actions showed that Willoughby cared about no one but himself.

Love isn't about passion, it's about kindness.  People think passion must exist for a relationship to survive, but without kindness there is nothing for that relationship to stand on.

I think this is why I don't understand the phenomenon that is "Twilight."  Love isn't something that bites you, puts you in danger, or demands that you give in to every hormonal urge.  While compatibility is important, the thought that constant fireworks are a necessary ingredient for a relationship to succeed is misleading at best and damaging at worst -- passion may fade with time, but kindness is the cement that holds everything together.

After my first date with David, I came home and wrote in my journal that the evening was fun but that there weren't any "sparks."  Imagine if I'd thrown away the opportunity to get to know him better because there wasn't instant, sizzling chemistry.  What a tragedy that would have been!

How many women discard a Colonel Brandon in their search for a John Willoughby, only to find that the John Willoughby isn't the White Knight they were hoping for?  And how many toss aside a "best friend" like Jacob in favor of a mysterious and dangerous Edward?  Is this truly a recipe for happiness?

Passion is great, yes (and the importance of chemistry should not be discounted), but it should not be the foundation of a relationship.

When you focus solely on fire, you're bound to get burned.


MyDonkeySix said...

Brilliant, Holmes! So very true and sad. Bonnie, I wish every woman and teenager would read this and adhere to it! they would be so much wiser and happier for it.

Kris said...

I think I would be nervous if someone introduced me to a young man and the only thing they had to say about him was that he was a "decent shot" and "a bold rider."

If you can't say something nice, make something up that sounds convincing.

Kris said...

The other day we were at Lowes buying crab grass killer when we stopped by a shower door with a lighthouse etched on the front. I jokingly asked Barry if he wanted this in our master bath. And he said, "No, I want that creeper Edward Whatshisname instead."

A shower wouldn't be a good shower without some kind of creeper on the door, now would it?

Sadly, I think there would be a market for them. Specifically in the middle aged house wife demographic.

Chatana said...

Wow...divine intervention, at relief society last Tuesday Stacey Hobbs mentioned how great your blog is, so me being the ward stalker, friended you on FB to get the link, this was the most recent post the day I did and I can't tell you enough how wonderful it is or how much I have shared with my family..we are currently going through a situation with my sister who is giving up her Colonel Brandon (and family) for a John Willougby and we are so saddened by it, you have totally hit it on the head!! You are a great writer and I'm glad to now be a follower of your Blog!! You are wonderful!! Thanks for writing such a wonderful post it was just what my family and I needed
-Chatana Krebs