Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Love in Action

I've had love on the brain lately, and not just because it was Valentine's Day last week.  Mostly because I jumped from watching the "Twilight" series (and you know how romantic I think those are) to watching old Disney movies with my kids.  And what have I learned?

Cinderella taught me that all it takes to fall in love is one dance.

Sleeping Beauty one-upped the dance = insta-love equation with the added bonus of teaching parents it is better to withhold information and hide their children from the world than to tell their kids what dangerous things are out there and how they can avoid them.

Last, but not least, The Little Mermaid taught me that adolescent crushes are worth giving up one's soul in order to pursue.  Also, being disobedient to your parents is cool and always works out in the end.  (Plus, if I ever become Queen of the Universe, I know it is better to sacrifice everyone in my entire kingdom than to let my daughter suffer the consequences of her stupidity).

Hmmm...

Don't get me wrong, I like fairy tales as much as the next girl, but how is that that "Happily Ever After" always consists of meet, greet, and ride off into the sunset together?  (Or in Ariel's case, see cute boy, lose your ever-lovin' mind, and sign away your soul for a chance to play Chase the Prince).

Why is love consistently portrayed as something that just happens instead of something that is the result of careful and consistent cultivation?

In a world of confusing ideas about love, I think this is one of the most damaging; that love exists independent of personal responsibility and action; that it's just a lightning bolt that strikes and once the fire has gone out, it's over, without chance of recovery.  How many people have divorced their spouses because they are no longer "in love" without realizing love is something you do, not something you feel?

This is why I love the example laid out in "Fiddler on the Roof."  After 25 years in an arranged marriage, Tevye wants to know if his wife, Golde, loves him.  At first she tries to avoid his questioning by listing all the things she has done for him over the years.  But, as he persists, she allows herself to internalize the question, again being brought back to all the things she has done for him:  "For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him.  Twenty-five years my bed is his.  If that's not love, what is?"

What is love if not action?  If not service and kindness and working together?

Once you do, you feel.

So if you are not "in love" with your spouse, get back in love.

Go.  And do.

4 comments:

MyDonkeySix said...

Well said!

Katie--the amazing one, not your other friend named Katie. She's amazing, too, but not the same Katie as me-- said...

Agreed.

I "fall in love" so easily and find comments like "you can't help who you love" quite annoying. You can help it. I am a firm believer that you choose to love. Sure, there is an initial chemical/hormonal reaction that might happen more readily with one person than another, but those kinds of feelings are short-term. (Research suggests that that kind of attraction only lasts about a year.) What is lasting is the true love that comes from service and action and commitment and considering the other person's needs and appreciating and recognizing delightful qualities and complimenting and embracing and smiling and cherishing and listening and talking and forgiving and learning and so many other verbs (action words).

Parents don't ever "fall out of love" with their children. "Sorry, 9 year-old daughter, I don't love you anymore." The difference? Parents are constantly serving and doing things for their children and forgiving their shortcomings as they are still learning. Your spouse is also still learning.

When you stop serving and doing things for your spouse, then you stop cultivating the love that has brought you so much happiness and feelings of completeness throughout the times you've shared. What a pity to give up something so great, because you stopped working for it. Anything worth having is worth working toward.

Bonnie said...

Katie, you may enjoy this post I wrote a few years ago that pretty much summarizes what you are saying:
http://overlys.blogspot.com/2009/07/oh-yes-you-can-help-it.html

Thanks for commenting! I love it when you stop by!

Tiffany said...

LOVE this!! MISS you!!