Is lasting love the exception, the norm, or even possible?
A week ago Sunday, I came across an insidious quote on My Voice, My View. (I love this blog, follow it, and recommend it. Septembermom makes me think! And it is... Her Voice!)
The quote was from W. Somerset Maugham, an English playwright, novelist and short story writer who died in 1965 at the age of 91.
Here is the quote:
"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person."
Insidious means "harmful but enticing." It is a lovely quote, written by an accomplished author; however, in the quote I found an untruth that took me decades to identify and disallow. Another way of putting this quote is: "Most people in love, fall out of love, unless they are lucky." Therefore... don't bet on love!
The sentiment behind this quote may be why so many men shy away from saying, "I love you," or commit to a relationship. They've bought Maugham's lie.
Today the leading cause of divorce in America is "Irreconcilable differences!" Or, No happy chance: We grew apart!
"There are many reasons for divorce that lead to the dissolution of a marriage. Reasons for divorce in the past had to show blame for the dissolution of the marriage against one of the spouses. Most states today have “no fault” divorce which means that the reasons for divorce do not have to prove fault by any party. Eighty percent of all divorces are granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences."1
In my mid-twenties I learned to trust God for what the future might hold, even in love. I have learned that lasting love is often the result of nurture, commitment, and compromise. (Lasting love is not a happy chance, but a designed outcome.)
On "My Voice, My View" I offered a comment:
I'll take the role of a contrarian here. It is not by "happy chance" we continue to love a changed person. It is by commitment.
When I was younger, hearing heard such a quote, I was reluctant to love. But I've found that on-going love is a choice, a determination, and a commitment. It is not merely "a chance."
I loved a woman who changed... decayed... and died. Love is... "for better or worse, sickness and in health..." not "if by chance..."
The quote is lovely and even is, perhaps, the majority view. But methinks... it gives too much room for giving up, getting out, and excusing a lack of commitment.
I'm not opposing divorce so much as I am defending love. We all change, and hopefully, we all continue to grow, but in a marriage there is plenty of room for change and growth. In fact, most spouses I know are hoping for that.
I'm not the man I was at 20, 30, 40, or even 50. I've changed. I was "becoming" at 20 what I became at 30, and so on. We fall in love with someone who also is "becoming." Together, we become a "new and improved" couple. We are still in love, not by happy chance, but by a sympathetic, earnest commitment.
Love is possible today and tomorrow. Even with the same person... for decades... for a lifetime... or... until God by death shall separate us.
Just some Monday musings.
PS: Wiki-pedia provides us this paragraph, including another quote, "Maugham's love life was almost never smooth. He once confessed: "I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed... In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel.""
Wiki-pedia also notes that Maugham did have a 30-year-relationship, "Haxton continued as Maugham's constant companion for 30 years, until he died in an alcoholics’ ward in a New York hospital. Maugham later placed the following dedication in his 1949 compilation, A Writer’s Notebook: In Loving Memory of My Friend Frederick Gerald Haxton, 1892 -1944." William and Frederick were friends and lovers.