Thursday, January 9, 2014

What is Love?

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
     Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
     Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
     That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
     Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
     Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
     But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
     I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
—Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare 


How can it be that love can morph into something twisted and hateful? That it can erase any ability to feel or express it again? 

I know this is not much of a raayeh, but I have seen numerous Law & Orders ("ripped from the headlines") where terrible crimes are committed in the name of failed love. Love, somehow, became hate, murderous, spiteful hate. A hate where even the love for one's children is swept aside for that fury. 

My theory is that it is not possible that actual love could become hate; if hate can result, it was not love to begin with. How can a couple who conversed, committed, had children, become consumed with anger and vengeance? 

"Love is not love that alters when its alteration finds." It cannot be that actual love could become hate. 

"I don't love you anymore" makes no sense, but it the go-to phrase to break up relationships. It's not that love has died, it never lived. One can cohabit with a potted plant for twenty years and feel some sentimentality; but none for another human being

Love is respect. Love is discipline. Love is kindness. If that is not present in a relationship, then there is no love. 

Biblical love is usually mentioned after the nuptials take place, nor is it a given in every marriage; if it was standard, then they wouldn't bother to make a point of mentioning that the husband loved his wife (ehav). The Torah itself makes no mention of marriage except that if a man hates his wife, he can divorce her. 

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman said on this: Why is marriage not mentioned? Because the journey is more important.
Via Lior Bar Picasa Web Album
In an article written in response to violent sex crimes taking place in India ("The Good Men of India," by Lavanya Sankaran), I was informed as to Indian terms of endearment: 
There is a telling phrase that best captures the Indian man in a relationship — whether as lover, parent or friend: not “I love you” but “Main hoon na.” It translates to “I’m here for you” but is better explained as a hug of commitment — “Never fear, I’m here.” These are men for whom commitment is a joy, a duty and a deep moral anchor.
Indian men are strongly tied to the family unit, probably more so than American men. Love is making another's life easier for her. Love is sharing the burden: 
In most countries, a woman clambering aboard a plane with a fretful infant and turning a crowded row of six into a de facto row of seven is usually met with hostility. Here, every other row seemed larded with these women and their babies. But those stuffy Indian businessmen — men of middle management, dodging bottles and diaper bags and carelessly flung toys — they didn’t grumble. Instead, up and down the plane, I saw them helping. Holding babies so that mothers could eat. Burping infants and entertaining toddlers. Not because they knew these women, but because being concerned and engaged was their normal mode of social behavior. So, I will say this — Indian men can also be among the kindest in the world.  
An "ever fixed mark," doesn't just happen. Love doesn't arise from the spoken word; it becomes firm through the mundane and the messy actions. Main hoon na.  


FrumGeek said...

I disagree. While if someone is truley in love, it may be difficult to turn that into hate, but acts that show said person was never deserving of love, be it unremorsful cheating, murder, or turning one's back on values that matter to you, such things can make love turn to hate. I know a frum girl who loved her father, and one day, I don't know all the details, he killed her mother. Now she hates him and wants nothing to do with him. Does that mean her love for him wasn't real? Of course not. But her hate for him now is just as real, and rightfully so.

Ish Yehudi said...

There is a distinction made in some psychological and sociological literature regarding orientation of societies and cultures. Some cultures are described as individualistic, focusing on the individual, their achievements, happiness, and self-fulfillment. Other cultures are collectivistic, focusing on family and community units with respect to achievement, happiness, and fulfillment.

Many individualistic cultures struggle with focusing on the relationship (or others) over self; being constantly focused on our own wants, needs, and desires requires a difficult shift to think about others.

Princess Lea said...

FG: Er, I don't mean this conversation in the realm of murder (seriously, you know a frum girl whose father killed her mother? Was this in the papers at all?)

Parental love is a tad different. Parents cannot be chosen, and our Biblical mandate is to respect them, love not being a requirement.

When two unconnected people establish a relationship, are they always being so clear-eyed? Was it that he was gorgeous, she was hot? Did they share values? Did they bring their all?

A man who unremorsefully cheats probably wasn't that nice to begin with. Is the person one loves ever really loveable?

And down the rabbit hole we go.

Ish: Yes. And when those who come from a family-based culture are transplanted into the individual-based society, the very noble values of their background are belittled. Everyone in America is searching for love, and they don't even know what love is.