Tuesday 28 February 2012

Old Fashioned Romance

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was rereading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I was also reading the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery.  Leaving aside that both these series are written for young adults, the portrayal of the relationships in them is significantly different from the modern romance.  There is no love at first sight.  Instead, friendship and compatibility grow and become love.

Anne and Gilbert may be a fictional couple, but Laura and Almanzo were real.  They were married for over sixty years until his death.  From the Little House books, Laura is portrayed as almost asexual.  She doesn’t speak about any physical attraction she has to her future husband.  She doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about marriage.  Her first loyalty is always to her birth family.

Some of that may be cultural.  It wasn’t considered proper for young ladies to acknowledge the physical side of their natures.  But according to the biography I read, Laura said her marriage was based on affection and compatible goals.  She chose her husband according to who she thought she could live with for an extended period.

This is all second hand information, of course.  But it makes you think.  In today’s romance driven culture, half of all marriages fail.  We all know that the wild hormone-driven roses and wine portion of a relationship has a distinct shelf-life.  Humans adapt quickly and after awhile, we adapt to being in love and it isn’t the natural high it once was.  “We can finish each other’s sentences” becomes “Stop interrupting me!” 

Maybe there’s something to the more low key approach.  Some psychologists have said that high levels of chemistry almost always predict a dysfunction.  We are naturally attracted to things which remind us of the destructive patterns of our past.  (Or maybe the high levels of chemistry blind us to warning signs.)  We all know people who seem to constantly fall in love with the wrong person.

It’s an interesting point to think on.  There is definite merit to making sure a relationship has strong compatibility elements if you want it to last past your second anniversary.  Mutual goals and ideals about life make matters smoother.

But it’s not nearly as exciting as the other option.

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