Finale: Why We Love

bouquetWhy do we marry? I mean, why do we want to? I think eyeing that green, green grass of marital bliss as singles, we think more of the physical and emotional intimacy and the charming notion of making house. Those who live by convictions of faith or tradition that prescribe sex only within marriage may in particular feel this way, but people the world over copulate outside marriage. So it’s a broader question I’m asking. We are in love with the idea of being in love, wanting to sustain that feeling. We give ourselves away on this point: we root for the lovers on screen and in those pages as they push against every obstacle set before them – culture, race, class, war – and strain to touch fingertips. Elizabeth Gilbert says: It’s all about a desire to feel chosen. [My friend] went on to write that while the concept of building a life together with another adult was appealing, what really pulled at her heart was the desire for a wedding, a public event ‘that will unequivocally prove to everyone, especially to myself, that I am precious enough to have been selected by somebody forever.’ Although still retroactively tired from the rigors of my own lovely wedding and wishing I could’ve traded that satin shoe for an elopement, I think this woman gets close. We want to be marked.

Wanting to get married looks different for men and women. Though I won’t name the bloggers who’ve disagreed with me (aren’t you glad, Curt, Brad?), I think men are wired to pursue, their pleasure to be found in moving toward the woman. And women want to feel desired. In wanting to find someone to settle down with, men don’t think, “Oh, I want to be wooed.” I’ve said in the past that our very biology suggests this dynamic at play. And yes, I’m on shifty ground because in this feminist day many women in fact do the chasing. But descriptive behavior is not what I have in mind. I have yet to see a successful, lasting nuptial where the woman had insisted herself on the man and overpowered him (or manipulated him into it). Whether or not you agree, you see the majority of us wants to lay claim to someone and be claimed. Not be out here floating, forever available.

Love limits, almost by definition. Love narrows. The great expansion we feel in our hearts when we fall in love is matched only by the great restrictions that will necessarily follow. F and I have one of the most easygoing relationships you could possibly imagine, but please do not be fooled: I have utterly claimed this man as my own, and I have therefore fenced him off from the rest of the herd. His energies (sexual, emotional, creative) belong in large part to me, not to anybody else – not even entirely to himself anymore. He owes me things like information, explanations, fidelity, constancy, and details about the most mundane little aspects of his life. It’s not like I keep the man in a radio collar, but make no mistake about it – he belongs to me now. And I belong to him, in exactly the same measure. Gilbert in Committed.

Single people can stake out a community, especially in this age of options with meetups and interest groups of every hue in the rainbow. But this doesn’t quite mute the loneliness for most. It is an exclusive belonging we seek, one that is both horizontal in the emotional connection as well as vertical in the building of a home, the roots we want to lay. Even animals mark their place in the world. Communal affinities don’t require the private intimacy that Gilbert reminds us comes in a committed relationship. We want to desire and be desired, and in the heady throes of romance declare and hear the longing. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. CS Lewis (who else?)

In The Signature of All Things by Gilbert, scientist Alma Whitaker had been quietly following the work of Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace into her waning years. The men had no idea who she was or that she too had actually come up with the theory of evolution that had propelled them to fame. Darwin never publicly spoke an ill word about Wallace, nor Wallace about Darwin, but Alma always wondered what the two men – so brilliant, and yet so opposite in disposition and style – truly thought of each other. Her question was answered…when Charles Darwin died and Alfred Wallace, per Darwin’s written instructions, served as a pallbearer at the great man’s funeral. They loved each other, she realized. They loved each other, because they knew each other. With that thought, Alma felt deeply lonely, for the first time in dozens of years.

Described to be unattractive, Alma had been hungry for the love of a man all her long life. Like her, we want to be known and cherished through our utmost faults, and be shown our own possibility of beauty. We discover the fuller breadth of this gift when we step over the threshold of matrimony. Marriage is one place this marvel of being known and (still) loved unfolds as you bump against each other’s offenses and annoyances and realize it’s forgive or bust. This knowing goes beyond the acceptance in the schoolyard, the affirmation that we’re all right and likeable. It goes even beyond the assurance from parents that our loveability remains in sure standing. Which is why when we feel our spouse doesn’t really see us it cuts deeply. And so love is hard. It not only demands expression and attention but exacts its greatest testimony, sacrifice.

Even as a girl, my wanting to get married someday was bound up in my yearning to be a mother. In truth, what I wanted more than anything was to hold my baby to my heart someday. (Sorry, honey. I got the trash tonight.) Taking care of my latchkey cousins on my visits, I also wished I could raise them myself – literally, as a teenager at the time. If I were assured in my single days the recognition of Gilbert as a writer and her place on the TED stage for a trade-in on my hopes of marriage and motherhood, I would have chosen this life unblinkingly. (Okay, so I lingered on that stage a few minutes.) Remember, this from a woman for whom every minute writing is a drop of rain on a parched tongue. No, I didn’t see boyfriends only or primarily as potential fathers and I made sure to enjoy the romance with my husband. Well aware that nothing this side of heaven could ever fully satisfy, that I would always want more, I would still have felt palpably, if not achingly, incomplete without a child of my own. Well, one day, I fell in love with the baby in my arms before I went on to follow the miracle of his growing.

TPotSo why would I surrender the chance at unimpeded devotion to my art and intoxicating acclaim (presuming I had Gilbert’s talent in that alternate universe) for the daily sacrifice of my body, time, and energy in the obscurity of motherhood? Turn my back on the opportunity to be known by millions around the world in order to wash cloth diapers by hand and pour over a stove? The question is its own answer. A childhood friend realized when she had her first child that her mother had always been looking at her. It is the sacrifice that is our delight, the unique experience of giving wholeheartedly and relentlessly to a life that delights as much in the taking. Babies and young children have nothing to give back, at least intentionally. They don’t see you because they can’t the way you do them. It’s not their job. The art of parenthood is the art of knowing. The keener your observations, the better you decode the cries, the shyness, the explosion of energy, the ways they cope with fear. This correlation holds with friends and spouses also but at least in adult relationships we can expect some return of pleasure and appreciation on the investment of our emotional resources. Parenthood is a one-way street, especially in the early years.

The sweetness of a man’s attention is the reason it might not have drawn me as compellingly as motherhood. (Masochist, remember?) Because where sacrifice is the measure of love, you don’t get more pain out of the business of forging a family than you do in childbirth. It’s not that one must give birth to experience love in its fullness. Love is too rich, has too many dimensions. I personally know fathers who make the better parent, and we have need in the world for foster parents and caregivers which many, many step up to fill. There are women who can’t or don’t want children who give in many other ways out of a bottomless storehouse of love. This simply happens to be my narrative. I would make a better birth mother than an adoptive one. And there is something organic and visceral – downright bloody – about birthing that it discloses its own mystery on love. The pain is so mind-blowing it is a foretaste of death. You will permit me to speak because I felt every bit of it when I brought my boy into this world unanesthetized. And I’m not putting a higher premium on parenthood over the privilege of being a spouse, either. All I am saying is we want to love so much to the point of giving up something, to the point of hurting, and women happen to find this generous opportunity in the physical and emotional capacity of the womb that is part of our design. Ironically, the high calling of sacrifice is the very reason so many marriages fail. Negotiating the give and take day in, day out into decades can get tiresome in the least under the selfishness of human nature.

So whether we become a parent or remain single, we want to mark not only our place in this world but upon other lives. Where we inscribe our sacrifice at great cost, we know we have really loved.

194 thoughts on “Finale: Why We Love

  1. I want to comment here; but need to first compose my thoughts so I can better convey them to the world. Why We Love seems so simple in my mind but so hard to put in words.

  2. I agree with usabaker. This is a lot to digest Diana. It’s a very deep and thoughtful post that I hope to come back to and respond more. Thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom. B

    I haven’t pondered or experienced marriage, childbirth and the bonds and restrictions that you have, so I may not really have much to contribute. I admire that you probe these deep questions, take a stance and pen your heart with a gift for words and insight. Now off to dreamland for me.

    • Hope dreamland was sweet. =) Thanks for making it a point to pipe in under the gong of bedtime, B. I always try to offer relevance to anyone and everyone in their unique situation, no matter the topic. Hence my closing lines. If anything, I thought some might come to understand why it is they have nOt married or have struggled in relationships (not to say you’ve struggled or that the married don’t). A good friend of mine never found appeal in the idea of motherhood, always said it drained her just to think about it. At 40, she managed a high-risk birth and has poured everything into her baby…under chronic depression. She has everything. A sterling resume, a man who loves her very much, all the money in the world, the baby of her sort-of dreams. But for one thing, she is plumb exhausted and misses her freedom. The things we want and don’t want out of life and ourselves. Quite the question.

  3. Hmmm this is pretty much balanced. I can relate with ‘Claim’ and ‘Knowing’ to a significant extent, and mildly with ‘Sacrifice’.

    I’ve often had discussions with my friends where they’re all angst if a man describes his woman as his ‘property’. I think it’s funny. I mean, what else are they to each other, if not a sole claim of each other? (confused here). So whether it’s called property, mine, our, err whatever, we still end up describing the same thing: We want to be owned or marked by someone else.

    And that ‘Knowing’ (sighs…) to actually have someone who sees you? I once once told a guy that’s my reason for rejecting his proposal. Who wants to live with someone who couldn’t see beyond the physical? *shrug*

    Love this a lot. Has to be the most honest reasons for marriage I’ve read 🙂

    P.S And I want a baby too some day. I admit I can’t love an adopted baby as much as I would one I birthed.

    • Right. “Property” is being owned but we don’t want to be dehumanized. =) Uju, I harbor the biggest suspicion you will find someone who will delight to look at you in every way. Thanks for keeping up with all you’ve had going on.


  4. As someone who got into marriage early and full of naivety, and then became a mother after I became a lot more “world- wise”, this post really struck a chord. Marriage and procreation is an almost unavoidable social obligation in our part of the world (either you find your own, or it will be “arranged” for you!). And contrary to popular belief, marriage provided more space and freedom than I thought possible. It turned out to be a boon (marrying early) rather than a bane (which my friends predicted). My spouse demanded no sacrifices and let me forge my own path in life (I am now a surgeon). We have withstood long periods of separation and have faced many “demons” from the past. It was not a whirlwind romance, flowers, candle- lit dates and lust that kept us going. It was (still is) easy friendship, unconditional support, measured understanding and the ability to forgive that kept us going.

    Claim, belonging, knowing- I can relate to it all.

    Sacrifice and motherhood is synonymous in my book – I realized it only last year; after the birth of my daughter.

    Lovely post. Good day!

    • Love your feedback. Yes, Gilbert (in Committed, her book on marriage) actually traces the sociological underpinnings of marriage (which for the most part included arranged matrimony). I think your relationship with your spouse is the type that carries us through the decades. The preachers I most respect have spoken on the necessity of friendship in marriage, and how it is the backbone. Romance does not last, at least not with its initial igniting power. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m so glad I got to know you better and that’s awesome you were able to pursue your own dreams and identity with the support of your husband. I imagine juggling baby, work, and home is not easy. Thanks so much for being here.


  5. Gee whiz, lady. You must have slaved away on this post. This is profound and compelling and I believe your words sum up love and marriage very well. This is much like a thesis for the pros of why, almost all women, want a stake in marriage. Of course, there are still those individuals who marry for all the wrong reasons and generally those marriages do not last.

    I hope you get some rest now. Please!

    ~Yvonne x

  6. Love limits almost by definition 👍😀…….wanna comment more but almost at work!!! Awwww…..but I love journeying through your mind! It has a lot of interesting thoughts😊

  7. This is a most profound piece. I agree with your thoughts, but have to say that this man is not one who finds the chase more attractive than the lifetime’s sharing. Actually, as a young man in the ’50s and ’60s I dreaded the responsibility for making the first move. For me, the essence is wanting to give of oneself to the chosen other, and ultimately to put her needs before mine, which, of course, I do not forget.

  8. Thank you so much, Diana. This has been the question on my lips for the past few days after a dear friend said she won’t be happy until I’m married. My response was…OMG what a thought! Why DO people get married? You have given me much food for thought here. To agree with an earlier comment, it’s a rich and compelling work of art here. Outstanding!

  9. I can relate to so much of this! I always wanted to be a Mum and it has and will continue to bring me love, happiness and joy every day. My husband does not always agree when I say that sometimes parenthood is a one way street, but I guess we all think differently. And he and I have made comments about ‘owning’ the other 😉 Thank you for this great post.

  10. Brilliant piece.  You inject so much into your writing that it surprises me.  The sacrifices in love, maternity, and the ‘wishing.’  (I sure wish I could reflect on this post better in my comment!)  And with those little hooks of humor, you really nailed it.

  11. Procreation is instinctive, monogamy is not. Love is a primary driver, it rules us completely when we are at the height of our potency. The desire to create new life is in every way a natural urge. Marriage is a device of society to afford protection for our issue during their vulnerable years, and to control the spread of moral depravity and physical disease. But one woman can produce a number of children, and it is natural, too, for her to seek the most eligible partner each time, again an instinct shared by both sexes; so I guess the most challenging time when it comes to staying in a marriage is when the first child is mature enough to be more easily protected. This is when bonding or deep friendship between partners can influence decisions and may avert the disintegration of the old relationship in favor of a newer pairing. In my submission, the initial drive which draws sexual partners together is just that – natural selection in operation. It is the bonding, the deep friendship which develops from it – sometimes – that is best described as love.

    • My worldview differs from yours but I find enough common threads in your articulate input, FA. CS Lewis said we first fall in love, then begin to love. Loved this. Thank you. *pockets the two gold cents*

  12. Great post! But maybe there’s a another concept you didn’t explore. The idea of marriage is that it will last for ever, thus the sacrifice, the belonging, etc. Maybe there should be a well written contract -stating clearly what are the needs and obligations of both – established before the wedding and that contract would be a renewable one, maybe every year or so. If the desire is not there anymore, or whatever the reason, you just shake hands and off you go. You still get the wedding party, the sense of having been chosen, you still can have kids (and they too will leave eventually one day), etc. but without the feeling to be fastened to someone for ever. Moreover, if the man and the woman KNOW that this contract has a definite deadline, close (one year goes fast), and that all could be lost from one day to the next without recourse, then maybe both will make much more efforts to keep the relashionship going in a way that satisfies both parties. Then you still have the claim, the belonging, the knowing but NOT the sacrifice.

    • That would be like a relational lease (akin to a rental), not a marriage. It’s the very design, the fact that there’s no (that is, not supposed to be an) out that encourages – if not forces – perseverance and dedication. If it were that easy to bail, I disagree that folks would make more of an effort. They would just jump ship. Thanks for your two cents, EW. =)

  13. I’ve been thinking about this post all day, and it took me a while to comment, because ‘no words’ may not have said enough. I was so moved by your love for your son, and the desire to be a mother. I too wanted to mother more than any career or goal, and it was a choice that I was lucky to make. But the way that you wrote it and expressed it brought back the feeling of holding my new born baby and knowing that this was what my life was all about.

    There is such a dismissal of what it means to be a mother. But I’m so grateful for posts like this one, which share a different perspective.

    • Thanks, Nicci. I think the dismissal is relatively new in human history, with the rise of feminism. Sure, there have been plenty of women upon whom marriage and childbirth were foisted or imposed (via arranged marriages and the need to marry for economic stability of their extended family, etc). But enough women have embraced the call over the millenia to have brought us to the year 2015. Thanks for sharing how this piece resonated with you.


  14. Love truly has too many dimensions, which is why it is what it is ~ both bitter and sweet. I thought I had throughout reading your post was the question & process of the quest to get married…or not. This is a very well thought out and written post, and it looks at this complicated decisions at so many levels.

    The one truth that captured my attention is: “Love limits, almost by definition. Love narrows.” And I believe the one type of love that can makes this ‘narrowing’ worthwhile is the love involved in having children. Children is where marriage shows its true value.

    This is a very general assumption on my part, and there are always outliers that prove otherwise, but I have always looked at marriage as essential if children are involved and somewhat dangerous if not. Children bring a depth and dimension of love that is special in the sense it creates ‘new love.’ How the parents handle this ‘new love’ and how it will affect a marriage is impossible to gauge.

    In today’s society, I do not think there is enough patience in anything we do and that is perhaps even more the case in marriages. Too many activities, connectivity with a techno-TV-world that we really begin to have warp expectations and misunderstandings. We develop a hypersensitivity which destroys the patience needed for love (and for relationships such as marriage). In a sense, how we have ‘evolved’ has made long term relationships so very difficult…and that is the danger.

    Those who can make a marriage real, make it work (with or without kids) are incredible…and it is the possibility of tasting such incredulity that makes the idea of marriage so wonderful. The magic of love is of course a vital part of marriage, but patience perhaps even more so… Of course, no one will ever figure out what the secret is for great love and great marriages, but like my chicken scratch above we all have theories 🙂 Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • That is remarkable of you in your (male) shoes to see the potency of children in the building of marriage and their ability to bring a new love. I love your insight into the need for patience (over pretty much anything else!) in a successful marriage.

      • Nieces and nephews also help a lot with the insight in one area/concept of love, complementing that deep love two share when they do get married (or share a life). As I see how love remains love with or without marriage, so the quest to be married may be in part just mythical.

      • AH — *The Randall Puzzle comes together*

        Mmm. Interesting take on the quest for marriage. I think I’ll respectfully disagree (no other way I’d disagree with RC), as it’s a particular kind of love that marriage ignites and grows to endure (at least offers the potential to). I will be shedding all dignity and hopping if you marry again. I mAy even do a dance video for you (which would likely be my second, as I’d hoped to do one soon to celebrate stat milestones). =)

  15. I find love a irresistible desire for intimacy:, to have a place to understand and be understood, within safe bonds of love, affection, and commitment. Of all things it is at the same times safest and most dangerous place, to be so intimate!

  16. Dear Diana,
    As always, you find beautiful and remarkable ways to make me think. I’m so eager to dig into your entire series (leave it up to me to read the finale first!!)
    This piece deserves a reread and further introspection on my part. I’m such a simple woman and absolutely love the layers of nuances and perspectives you add to my own thinking.
    Your words couldn’t have been more timely as I find myself in a week of extra-wonderful marital love and partnership. This is worth a revisit for when a week surfaces in a much opposite manner.
    I’m rambling here, but I SO agree with the elopement piece – at least for me. After we had our daughter, the wedding itself seemed so much less than the importance I’d put on it before. As we enter our 27th year together, I’m so happy to say I’d marry him all over again.
    I’ll be back 😉

    • “As we enter our 27th year together, I’m so happy to say I’d marry him all over again.” Rocks! Your (plural) love (not to mention the attraction) zings and sings on your blog, woman. As to your starting with the finale, the greatest minds did everything backward, didn’t they? =)

      Thanks for tackling the series of posts I strewed all over the place.

      • I’m so glad you can see that from your vantage point. As you know, I don’t throw the mush on my husband like I do my kiddos. But, I’m pretty sure he’d run the other direction if I started spewing sonnets 😉

        As for “tackling” the posts….my pleasure! I’m hoping to come back on Sunday and read some more. Have a fantastic weekend, Diana!! xoxoxo

  17. This is a very thoughtful and well written article. I agree with most of it, but I look for root causes. So, my own view of why we love is based in genetics. Sounds cold, but the evolutionary incubation of “love,” I think, is grounded in the survival imperative–security. Loneliness (aloneness) is basically a feeling of insecurity. The more approving and personal attention one receives from another becomes added security in both selfness (identity) and confidence–a security of Being.

    On my view, it is the same sort of insecurity that led/leads to religion, especially religions that offer salvation and a personal god–In Christianity, for example, a possibly faux security that one will not “wink out of existence in total insignificance,” but will continue, even after death, to “rest in the bosom of an eternal master who recognizes the self and cares for him.”

    I know this is far from poetic (words that comfort), but the “love” a chimp has for his mother and the “love” the mother has for her chimp, has been recorded on film depicting their reactions when one or the other dies. Same with elephants, and I suspect, many other species.

    I discovered my own evidence for this argument in the reactions of some readers of my novel, especially in referencing the comment of one of the characters:

    “The greatest fear of mankind is not an eternal Hell, but an indifferent universe. We fear that we are truly alone in a cosmos that cares not a whit for us. We fear that on a scale of cosmological time, we may be little more than a momentary growth of lichen on an outcrop of stone deep in the cold northern regions, and that all of our prayers, tears, bobbing heads, and lamentations will not entice the universe to say, ‘I am here, and I love you.'”

    Still, believing that I understand the origin and nature of love, I agree that I love to love, but I love receiving love even more. I think these two aspects of love are symbiotic. To this point, I refer to a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”:

    “The disappointed man speaks.— ‘I listened for an echo and I heard only praise—.'”

    • Maxx, I appreciate and welcome your feedback, though our worldviews differ. Apart from the fact that I don’t know why my Christianity would offer a “possibly FAUX security,” (no need to go there, a whole other post), I agree the giving and receiving is a symbiosis. Thanks so much for the thoughtful response.


  18. I looked for security, it was not false, It has lasted through 37 years. I looked for what I had left in my family of origin, which I am still close with. In the words of an old song, I wanted a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad! I found her

  19. Interesting meditation: love is restrictions to others but can lift those higher within the inner circle if both partners dance together and find their steps together. Those dance steps do change and sometimes, the partner trips abit over your foot because you have changed several steps. Then later, you stumble abit because s/he changes abit. Finding that right dance without causing terrible, willful falls on a loved one takes focus, delight in making mistakes.

  20. So, you’ve finished Commitment then 🙂 It’s obviously got you thinking! Being in a committed relationship is such an individual narrative, you’re right. When I thought about marriage when I was younger, I just wanted a ring, no wedding. As it turned out, I got neither, although if it was important to me, we could be married. My partner doesn’t see the point, especially seeing as I have no interest in changing my name to his; and I question the point too. I’d still like that ring :). Marriage aside though – why do we want to be committed to somebody else? Acceptance and a feeling that there are two people making decisions instead of one…my partner is my rock. He provides that safe space for me to return to, and I’m grateful for that. But my dear, I never want to be owned.

    • I swear I drew you here. Was thinking of you, Sara. =) It was all I could do to swallow the grating ball of irritation at her skewed and flawed presentation of the Christian position on matrimony (she lumps Catholics with Protestants with Fundamentalists, yikes. Where the hec was her fact chkr? She also makes the GRAND mistake of declaring America the most stressed, overworked country in the world, in Eat, Pray, Love. OMG – that’s S Korea. Even the president of the Huffington Post cited Korea no. 1 on the list of mad nations). Aside from the small bit of misinformation, the book was timely for V’s Day. I’m wondering why he wouldn’t at least get you the ring, though you are not obligated to respond here. Being owned…that’s a whole post right there, isn’t it? I mean, no one wants to be property, be humanized. But claimed, fierce, tender side of ownership? =)

  21. Ok so I read every comment when I come into one of your posts ! No wonder I came in on a time change for me!
    I absolutely adore my husband and now that he is retired he is my housekeeper , cook, laundry guy ect… I laugh on how I used to view love, as someone or something outside of my own heart… I honestly feel so full inside that love is just a natural way of being that is not about whether I am married or not! We tease and say when I tell people ” I married my husband for his flight passes” and he tells people ” I thought she had money” ! We got married more for my idea of not living with him when my daughter was at the vulnerable age if 11. He has no desire to run with the pack, although he goes into the woods with his friends to camp and fish.

    Maybe it’s my age now after raising my daughter, that it’s great that we support each other and have commitment, yet we have even said, “being funny of course” maybe we should divorce if you needed cheap healthcare!!” We got married when I was 49 and had no plans to have additional children unless I wanted to go on Oprah ( at my Age) .

    I have always raised my daughter and my step girls to go after their dreams, having their relationships enhance their pursuit of independence, and to mutually share in the rearing of the (little chickens). (So far one is married with 2 dogs, (Both professors) the middle says I am to young for marriage, has a committed relationship, travels the world and lives alone, ( environmental safety inspector) ,and the Youngest lives with her boyfriend, has him cook and clean for her, both engineers, and has a dog.

    Being happiness and love for oneself is the most happy a marriage can be, so married or not, I say find love in your heart so big that all of life reflects love and marriage is a divine union that will not make or break the joy and happiness that can inspire the world. ( I know many have their religious beliefs to consider, so whatever works for both.)

    Married or not, all people ( including my single stepdaughter and daughter) are such an inspiration of loving energy, even if they decide never to marry. Our world is shifting my friend to have people feel complete without traditional marriage, as they feel complete inside without the contract. One of my best friends just agreed to have and raise a child with her partner without either of them feeling the need for marriage. So I would like my girls to follow their hearts in whatever capacity they choose, as they would be the best at choosing their path, maybe traditional or not.

    ( just a side note and another topic about professional women like my oldest professor step- daughter having absolutely no support ( in the male dominated profession ) in having or raising a child and keeping her position! I actually was shocked at the comments from her male peers!

    Oh I do go on and on , maybe good it has been awhile! much love to you my dear! Robyn

    • The love you share with your husband – not to mention your girls – spills through this page, Robyn. I so appreciate

      “I laugh on how I used to view love, as someone or something outside of my own heart… I honestly feel so full inside that love is just a natural way of being ”

      I got every word. Thank you for the blessing.


  22. I very much appreciate all of your comments, all different perspectives on how we people see lives from our perspectives. Yet we need remember that there is a reason we marry, that God ordained this relationship. In marriage we are in a relationship with another that mirrors the relationship that we are intended to be in with our Lord; one of selfless devotion, one that is not based upon myself but upon the one that I love and long to be there for. In such a union the relationship isn’t about me and what I can get, but about the “you” and who I can be for that person. We need recall that it is within that sphere that we find total commitment to another, that we find the blessing of being a mother and father, and where we can find a exhibit a small reflection of the God who loves us completely. He gave himself selflessly…on the cross, for you. I hope you can see that love today…

    • You “preached” to the choir. =) Pastor Tim Keller goes beyond that to discuss the (almost shocking) meaning of sex, His intent to show just how intimate He wants to be with us. Elucidated most rationally with due respect, of course. I appreciate the gem you left us. Blessings,


  23. I whole agree with so many comments! This is an awesome piece. I want to send this to so many. WELL SAID! Beautifully written, plumbing the depths of real relationship. Thank you!

  24. “We are in love with the idea of being in love and want to sustain that feeling, enjoy our beloved as long as possible.”

    If this is true then why get married? I have a friend who was quite a womanizer in his younger days and was well known for “creaming”, a term he used to describe carrying on a relationship with a woman just until that point when he sensed she was beginning to get ‘serious’. At this point he would abruptly end the relationship maximizing the feeling of being in love, and move on to the next one. This went on until he actually fell head-over-heels in love with someone, but unfortunately, this time his reputation had preceded him, and she, sensing that they were reaching the point where he normally made his move, decided to unilaterally end the relationship. He was so hurt by the experience that he vowed (and kept his vow) never to do this again.

    • I think the context and the rest of my post qualify the kind of loving feeling and binding commitment I was referring to. No disrespect intended, but it sounds like your friend was almost using women (you did say womanizer) to keep himself on a narcotic high. Obviously he doesn’t (or didn’t, while he did that) fit the bill where selfless knowing and sacrifice come into play. We increasingly are seeing committed or “committed” relationships (depending on the couple) that spurn the marriage ceremony. Gilbert, a die-hard representative of this group who found herself getting married, discovered, “marriage is not merely a vow made to another individual; that’s the easy part. Marriage is also a vow made to a vow (she italicizes).” Incidentally, I’m not a Gilbert devotee, though I’m a huge fan of The Signature of All Things. She just happens to be whom I’ve been reading. =)

  25. I like that you start with the question “why love?” and end with musings on parenting. The wedding we witnessed in India was clearly a wedding of families as much as of two young adults. Romantic love is one way to insure that family continues, but there are others. I think at the end of the day, you are right: we love because we have been loved.

    • Gilbert goes on to (finally) admit in Committed, “While the intimate terms of our relationship would always belong solely to F and me, it was important to remember that a small share of our marriage would always belong to our families as well – to all those people who would be most seriously affected by our success or our failure. They needed to be present on that day, then, in order to emphasize this point.” This collective participation in one couple’s union is grander outside the U.S. Thanks, A.

  26. This feels implied in some of the reasons you provided, Diana, but I think a lot of people subconsciously marry (which as other readers commented, is different from ‘love’) because it’s a status symbol.

    They do it to prove a point to others, or to have a day, a moment, when the world revolves around them (the wedding).

    Just looking around on Pinterest – and not having any sort of inclination myself toward decorating or event planning – I can’t help but think that for many women, in particular, getting married is all about having a ring to show off and a fairy tale wedding.

    As for me, I will be the first to admit that it was my own preconceived notions and prejudices that led me to marry when I did… although I won’t go into what those were.

    Unlike other little girls, I never had that maternal instinct you describe so beautifully, but I sure am glad now I got hitched and had my boy anyway. He makes all my decisions feel just right, preconceived notions or not.

    By the way, I haven’t read Committed, but I love Liz Gilbert and can’t get enough of Eat, Pray, Love (not surprising, what with my yogic leanings and all). I’ll have to pick up the latest book (The Signature of All Things) – it sounds like a great one.

    • I love this: “He makes all my decisions feel just right.” And am so glad you had him, too! =) Thanks for sharing what you did of the way you happened to have stepped over the marriage threshold. Yeah, you’re right. That is really sad but women have taken the wedding ceremony to a whole other crazy level.

      I could totally see why you loved Eat, P, L. Actually, I’m not too impressed with it. I had only seen her once on the TED stage and then picked up Signature knowing nothing of it – and once past the short preface, completely lost myself in it. It’s not a book for the masses. It’s a book for a particular appetite. I happened to have gone to Univ of PA, which she names in the novel, and the opening chapters take us to a distant land in search of the cinchona plant (Peruvian Bark, which I take! and which I knew of. The father of homeopathy “discovered” and explored in Europe). The book is vast and rich on so many levels. I can’t say enough about it – except two places where I found the writing weak. But though Eat..Love is not so brilliant, I can see its mass appeal. I think Signature deserves the honor the other one got but hey, E..L SPEAKS to people in the everyday.

  27. Beautiful post Diana.

    There was a time in my life when I wanted to claim and to be claimed more than anything. As I’ve evolved and life’s circumstances changed I’m in a place of comfort in being single. There are times of loneliness but not because I desire to be married, I think these times are more out of boredom. Unfortunately being set in my ways (never thought I’d be this way), just wouldn’t mesh with a marriage or I dare say, even a relationship. I suppose this is selfish to a degree and a small (very small) part of me wishes I could be different but then I remember what I’ve been through, how far I’ve come and where I think I want to go.

    I’ve loved, been loved, and still love my first love (if that makes sense) but I don’t think I’m capable of loving this way again. From time to time I do miss the excitement of being in love but realizing this is no substitute for the genuine love of a relationship that has been built over time it’s not what I desire. Plus the thought of going through all the stages to get to the point of a long-lasting relationship exhausts me.

    Following my passions, doing what I love, and spending time with my grandson are so much more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed possible. I didn’t think anything could surpass the birth of my own children, but when I became a ‘gigi’ (grandma), I couldn’t, and still can’t, find the words to express how deeply I fell in love with my grandson.

    • Wow, I love and so appreciate this glimpse into your journey, S. ” I remember what I’ve been through, how far I’ve come and where I think I want to go.” Wonderful. Somehow most of us don’t give much thought to where it is we want to go. I find interesting how just the thought of building a relationship exhausts you. A good friend of mine didn’t want children bc the thought alone drained her. She felt this most keenly while caring for her dying parents (whom she lost back-to-back in one year). She went on to go through with a high-risk pregnancy but for all her devotion to her son, has suffered depression.

      I’ve known grandparents love their grandkids to itty bits but you are the first I have heard articulate that special love so clearly. Strikes me because you “didn’t think anything could surpass the birth of [your] own children.” Thanks so much for the honest sharing.


  28. Well, I thought I could ignore your post but something is propelling me to answer and until this morning at exactly 8:30 AM, I didn’t know what to write, so here goes.

    I was married for 13 years and have 2 wonderful kids by that marriage. It ended mostly from growing apart. I tried marriage again and had various other relationships, but nothing ever worked out. I’m not sure how to put this, I love being single and this is from someone who use to think you were lost if you didn’t have a significant other. But it’s a different kind of single, in many ways I’m still married. My ex. and I are good friends. We talk once a week on the phone and I stay at her house for the holidays. So I have this family made up of two kids and an ex. wife, all to whom I am totally committed. The bonds of a marriage with kids are a never ending commitment and I would go through it all again to have this family that I love deeply, the good and bad. Maybe it’s as Alma realized, it’s because we know each other. You can’t throw that away though we see so many try to. This quote from Jim Elliot says it best for my situation, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he could not lose.”

    And since you quoted C.S.Lewis, here’s another little gem…”To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket– safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable.
    -C.S. Lewis (from The Four Loves)

    Thank you for this soul searching post!.

    • “I thought I could ignore your post” Ha ha ha why did you want to ignore this post? =) Rhetorical question. The set-up and dynamic you and your ex happily settled on reminds me of Vivien Leigh’s (Scarlett O’Hara) in some ways. She left her husband (who loved her) for Laurence Olivier with whom she had an infamous, ardent relationship for over 20 yrs. But throughout and beyond, she stayed friends with her ex, even to holiday with him and their daughter later while still married to L. She was bipolar and her first husband was one of the few who maintained a calming influence on her, so that L would seek his company for V when her attacks got bad. Jim E (and the famous quote of his) was my beacon in college. And it was just last wk that I sent someone that quote from Lewis. =) I’m so glad you decided to join us at the roundtable.


  29. Oh, Diana… it is Sunday morning (barely) and with fourth cup of coffee in hand, I am trying to get caught up for the week on all the blogs I follow. And you throw this my way!

    I’d need forever to consider and answer this question. You make me feel intellectually lazy, my friend.

    Why do we marry? I can’t speak for others, but in my case it was a desire to love and be loved, to have an enduring friendship (very important in a successful marriage) that would last the years. There is something to be said for sitting on the front porch with someone with whom you share so much history.

    It is also for the sense of commitment that marriage should (notice I said ‘should’) require of two people. It is notification to the world that we, two, are one, and pledge to stay together and create something good, regardless of whim or circumstance. It is also a desire to have a union blessed by the Creator.

    My brain wishes to be flabby this cold and windy Sunday morning, Diana. Blast it, woman – why are you demanding that I actually THINK? ❤

    Kate xx

    • FouRth cup?!! Well, you didn’t sound lazy in this feedback. =) Yes, pastor Dr. Timothy Keller has put friendship at the center of marriage (as opposed to romance which in and of itself does not endure, at least not in the form in which it ushers in the marriage). I love this, Kate: the “pledge to stay together and create something good, regardless of whim or circumstance.” I’ll be sharing that with Mr. Wayfarer. As to the union blessed by Him, marriage was actually His template for His union with us – a living window into how intimate He wants to be with us.

      Lovely to hear from you on this. Thanks.
      Stay warm!


  30. My wife is not only my soul mate, but my best friend. We’ve been married 42 years now, mainly because we share the more important elements in our philosophy of life. (I’ve never agreed with “Opposites attract.”) She is the one person I could be with (though ideal circumstances don’t make it fully possible) 24 hours a day. But I’m sure it’s different for everyone. But whatever works for one’s happiness… Nice post.

  31. Diana I never wanted to get married, or have children. I did not need a man to make me complete, as some people feel the need. I met a man who sent me roses, poetry and chocolates but mostly someone who I could be my authentic self around. Now married …..Im happy I tried it, its not as bad as I thought it would be. Now having the children, thats something no one can prepare you for.

  32. I loved being a stay-at-home mom. I have two college degrees, but didn’t blink to quit my job to raise two boys. One day as my older son (probably 6 or 7 at the time) and I relaxed on the couch, he asked me what he should do when he grows up. I replied that he could do anything. He looked at me and I kid you not, said with a straight face that only a kid that age could, “But you didn’t grow up to be anything!” The rewards of motherhood are not always tangible while we are in the midst of it. Regardless, I wouldn’t change a thing. All this to say that I understood your draw to motherhood. (I never thought I would be that way, but as I held my son close to my heart while I was pregnant and then in my arms, everything changed!)

  33. That’s a wonderful post Diana, so thoughtful. I can’t say it was a maternal instinct which persuaded me to marry my man, as we never did have children. He is my soul-mate though, and we’ve survived and sometimes thrived almost 40 years married to each other. Life’s ups and downs have not defeated us and some things now seem unimportant when I look back, although they may have been more serious when they occurred. It’s different for everyone but thank you for making me think once again.

  34. Wonderful, and powerful. Piercing. The quote from C.S. Lewis is one of several quotes you’ve brought into this here-and-now, “It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” (CS Lewis) For a number of years I have increasingly embraced one challenge in my writing and my counseling practice: Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. “Why do we marry? I mean, why do we want to?”

  35. Sorry I didn’t get here sooner D. I’ve been wrapped up in book details. This is a beautifully written piece. Certainly I understand from my own experience that a mother’s love for her child is different than her love for her husband. Women are biologically wired that way, and it is a good thing. We need to be needed and who has a greater need than a baby? And while I will never know personally the bonding that takes place from birth, everything suggests that is powerful. When it doesn’t happen, an unhappy childhood, and I suspect, an unhappy adulthood is likely.

    The connection between men and women is different. I thnk a healthy and happy relationship is based upon a careful balance between dependence and independence. Peggy and I share a great deal but part of my responsibility is to help her achieve whoever she wants to be, and vice versa.


  36. One tiny but perhaps significant aspect that I rarely think about when it comes to love is that, no matter how unnaturally idyllic one’s relationship(s) is/are (and I know I’ve got it ridiculously easy in my marriage), the *potential* for unbearable pain is a sharp reminder of the depth of commitment—in fact, the better and easier the relationship seems to be, the higher the potential contrasting agony if something should ever go awry. So I suspect that while it’s in no way comparable to the pain of childbirth or complicated love, there’s a measure of a different sort of *emotional* risk that intensifies the challenge to commitment anyhow.


My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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