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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Better Than Romantic Love

Dalrock has a post about how men often have unrealistic expectations of love (and vice versa, I would add). But he makes an interesting observation:
... Romantic love (desire, passion) is to a large degree involuntary, and in its feral (modern) form is inherently fickle. This is a nearly universal misconception of our era, and if you don’t truly understand this you would do well to allow Rollo to thoroughly disabuse you of foolish modern notions of romantic love.

Where Rollo would be mistaken is if he is applying this statement to both romantic and other forms of love. If Rollo is saying that women aren’t capable of loving their husbands beyond their immediate feeling of sexual desire/infatuation, he is wrong.

Sadly this is far more rare than it should be in our present culture, but women loving their husbands on more than a pure opportunistic (romantic) level is still something you can observe. The easiest way to observe this is with older couples, where the wife is fiercely protective of her husband especially in an area where he has a weakness. This is different than a woman being infatuated with a man and being in fundamental denial of the man’s faults; in this case the wife will be both aware of the weakness and fiercely protective of her husband in this regard. While this is tragically not the norm, I see this with some regularity. One example which comes immediately to mind is a woman I spoke with a few months back who was talking about her husband’s recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. They are in the process of building their dream home, and she switched effortlessly from describing how capable her husband is as a designer and builder to her concerns for his health and the need to build the new home to accommodate the possibility of him becoming confined to a wheelchair. Very often when when women speak of a husband’s infirmity there is at least a tinge of disgust or contempt in their tone, but in this case there was nothing but love and protectiveness.

If you haven’t witnessed this and wish to see it for yourself, pay attention when groups of middle aged and older wives are talking amongst themselves. Out of a group of say 10 wives, 8 or 9 of them are likely to be busy discussing the long list of faults they perceive in their husbands. However, look for the one or two who either remain silent or (occasionally) redirect the other women into a discussion of the positive aspects of their husbands. It will take more time, but if you pay attention to the 1 or 2 women not complaining about their husbands you will find that at least some of these women display the kind of fierce protectiveness of their husbands which I describe. If you or anyone else puts down their husband (even subtly), especially in an area where he has some real weakness, you will see a white hot flash of protective anger directed at the person who put her husband down. These same women take great pleasure in small and large acts of kindness aimed at bringing joy and comfort to their husbands. While the average wife sighs in self perceived victimhood while cooking or cleaning for her husband (or children), the loving wife (and mother) does these things with a distinct joy at the opportunity to serve and care for the ones they love.

While the love I’m describing is often (quite pleasantly) mingled with feelings of romantic love, this is more accurately described as familial love. In addition to their feelings of romantic love, these women love their husbands the way a woman should love her parents or her children. To these women marriage isn’t a mercenary vehicle to extract resources from men or a formal certification of her feelings of romantic love; to these women marriage is a declaration that her husband is her man, for better or for worse. Just as a woman who loves her father will be fiercely protective of him especially when his manly strength is failing, a wife who loves her husband as family will retain loving and protective feelings for him even in cases where his lack of strength is at odds with her hypergamy.
I have observed, or had my wife relate to me, both of these in my church. I look around, and it is sometimes easy to see those couples that are most in love--at least from the woman's perspective. The intense and devoted look when they look at their husbands versus other men; the casual and easy way that a woman will begin rubbing or scratching her husband's back or shoulders. I also hear from my wife of the litany of complaints that some women will make when speaking privately to other women. I don't hear the same from the men, but I don't know if it is because they are more satisfied with their marriages, or better at hiding it.

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