Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Matt Walsh on Falling In Love

Matt Walsh gets a lot right a lot of the time. Overall, he makes a good point about romantic love in this column provocatively titled "I Didn't Fall In Love With My Wife". He says:
We’re bad at it because we don’t understand it, and we don’t understand it because we don’t understand love. You can’t forge a lasting marriage if all you know about love is what you learned from an Ed Sheeran song.
OK.

But here’s the reality: these were our choices, every step of the way, and that state which we’ve found ourselves falling in and out of is not real love. Real love is an act of will. A decision. A conscious activity. It is something you do and live. Love is chosen, and if it is protected and nurtured, it grows. Love is sacrifice. Love is effort.
Emphasis mine, to point out that marriage sellers themselves say these things over and over again.

He says it again:
Love is dying to the self.
If you don't want to die to yourself, don't marry! I know he says "love" but you can bet your donkey that Walsh would say that requires you marry your romantic interest.

He talks about infatuation, or what we often mean with "falling in love":
The trouble is, in our culture, couples experience that propulsion but they don’t go anywhere with it. They have all of this emotional energy, all of this fuel, but they’re afraid to make the journey into the great beyond.
Afraid?
More commonly, of course, people will stay together only so long as the infatuation lasts.
If they have no children and don't have any qualms with fornication and don't see marriage as sacred, why wouldn't people behave that way?
That’s how you end up with a generation of 20 and 30-somethings who’ve never been married but think they’ve had deep, rich “love” for, like, 19 different people. In truth, they never loved anyone.
That might be true in many cases, but Walsh has no way of being certain that is true for all of them.
That’s the thing about marital love: it’s willful and decisive, but it also requires boldness and courage, because you won’t have it in its realest sense until after you’ve already gotten married. You say at the altar not that you have loved or did love your betrothed, but that you will. You’re choosing love, right then and there, despite not knowing them very well. After all, even if you date for a couple of years before marriage, which I don’t necessarily recommend, you still won’t know your future spouse with even a fraction of the depth and intimacy that you’ll know them after 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years of marriage.
Sounds to me like an argument for having an iron-clad prenup, which can always be amended later.

And why wouldn't Walsh recommend they "date for a couple of years"? Is he afraid they might be burning with lust if they date for more than six months before marrying?
Yet you choose love anyway, and you are bound by that choice forever. This is the great power and mystery of the sacrament.
He's clearly talking about the spiritual aspects, because you're certainly not bound forever in a legal sense. By the way, many conservative Christians believe marriage ends with death; it does not continue in the afterlife.
It’s especially crucial for married couples to keep this in mind because, although my wife and I have not experienced this, many couples who’ve been together far longer than us will tell of emotional dry seasons that lasted for long stretches. During this period, they felt little attraction or affection, yet they still loved. They gained no emotional benefit from being around each other, but they still had their love.
And remember, he's selling people on marriage.
We “love” each other only as long as we get something immediate and pleasurable out of it. Once that goes, we go.
Again, if they have no children and don't have any qualms with fornication and don't see marriage as sacred, why wouldn't people behave that way?

Speaking of kids, here’s a question for anyone who thinks they have fallen, or might fall, “out of love” with their spouse: what about your children? Can you fall out of love with them? And what if you do?
Here's a big difference. After 18 years, if my child is ungrateful or hostile or toxic, I can kick them out of my home and I never have to deal with them again, and I don't have to give up half of my stuff, pay for my child's legal team to attack me, and then pay my child monthly payments for the rest of my life.
Why do we love our kids no matter what, while attaching a series of conditions to the love we have for the very person we publicly pledged to love unconditionally?

Sane people don't love their kids "no matter what". If their kid grows up to be an unrepentant mass murderer, they might hope and pray for their child to repent, but other than that, they shouldn't love their kid.
For my part, I know that I owe my love to my kids and my wife, but nobody is more entitled to it — to me, all of me — than my wife. I am in debt to her.
More than you probably know.
But if those were conditions for my love — if I only intended to love her as long as she can stun me with her grace and beauty — then I would not love her at all. I would be a mercenary, in it just to get mine for as long as it remains profitable. That’s a fine approach to business, but it’s just not how marriage is supposed to work.
But a lot of people think of marriage as business, and sometimes they don't reveal that until it is too late.


I agree with the overall point of Walsh's column. However, Walsh is still fairly young and his marriage sill fairly fresh. Especially since they have children, I sure hope his wife never decides she doesn't need to be a good wife anymore or to divorce him. That might seem impossible to him now, but it seemed impossible to a lot of men who were no less devoted than Walsh.

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