Tuesday, January 27, 2009

True Love: Fruit of Eden

The title of chapter 14 in the book, "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart", is True Love Is the Apple of Eden.

That title fascinates me. First, we don't know that the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve was an apple, just a point to clarify.

As I read the chapter I laughingly agreed with what the author, Dr. Gordon Livingston, was saying.

In a nutshell, I interpret what he's saying is that we as human beings have such a desire and longing for true love that we will sacrifice everything in order to get it, even the anger of God by disobeying Him.

The author then proceeds to show how foolish we are. He doesn't say this, but he does ask in a way, "Is there such a thing?"

One of the paragraphs says: When I listen to comments from elderly people who have been married fifty, sixty, or more years answering the inevitable question about "the secret to a successful marriage," it seems to me that a high tolerance for boredom often heads the list. Such bromides as "We never went to bed angry" or "Moderation in all things" convey a philosophy more geared to survival than to pleasure. Where, one wonders, is the idea of endless, renewable love?

I've laughed and laughed at that paragraph. We will celebrate our fifty years of marriage in May. If we were asked that question, we could definitely not say we never went to bed angry or that we have been moderate in all things. We've been very angry many times with each other and sometimes it took days to resolve. These days it takes much less time. Progress. And moderation has rarely been our motto. We tend to go from one extreme to another, but we have fun. Eventually we sometimes come to a moderation type of thinking. Sometimes.

I think I would answer that "inevitable" question if asked on our fiftieth, that it was very, very hard work. We both decided to grow in healthy emotional ways on our own, and from that we hoped to grow healthy in our partnership.

I think either one of us could have probably made a good relationship with someone else. It so happens we chose each other and it's been an adventure. I look back at my early thoughts about finding the "right" person and finding "true love" that would last a lifetime, and chuckle at how silly that type of thinking is. I do think I have the "right" person and that we do have good, true love. However, I do believe that is the result of sticking with it, working hard, and always growing individually without blaming or depending on the other one.

The result of the hard work and staying with it has rewards and benefits too long to list. I highly recommend it. Enjoying a relationship is the result of staying with it and putting some work into it.

Bottomline: As long as one thinks that true love is some elusive thing to hunt for and if you're lucky, found and enjoyed and you'll live happily ever after, it will be to that one the fruit of Eden. Would that we could all learn this lesson early and well.


Cathy H said...

Probably the best book I ever read on "true love" was a book called Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. It is written from a Universalist world-view, but the way it talks about this longing we have, the disconnect we experience, and the utter impossibility of having that filled by humans instead of by God alone is deeply Christian.

It is weird that the Hollywood "true love" myth is repeated in Christian circles with the variant, "Just get saved and you will live happily ever after."

That hasn't been my experience. What has been my experience is that love--be it for my husband, or children, or Jesus himself--is so beautiful and so worthy that it is worth sacrificing for.

And as it turns out, true "love" has been much more amazing, satisfying and solid than "true love" could ever hope to be.

Anonymous said...

Mary: I love your honesty. I was laughing when I read this and thinking yeah, yeah, same here. :) I fall under the category of I wish I knew then what I know now... I would have relaxed and enjoyed our relationship more instead of trying to improve it, which back then meant trying to change my husband.

Mary B. said...

Thanks for your comments. I always look forward to them. I really appreciate how you add depth and meaning. I learn every time you post. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write. I love it!

I so agree with what you say. I've often wondered if I had known then what I know now if I would have grown and learned like I have. I wonder if there isn't a timing involved. It's fun to look forward and hope that all this great experience I've accumulated has benefits. : )

Bobby Brown said...

True love is 1 Cor. 13 which definitely is a series of works rather than a Hollwood, "falling in love" type of love. Makes me wonder then from your post if in those parts of our world where parents select mates for their children if it might not be a better idea than our kids "falling in love" on their own? What do you ladies think?

Mary Burleson said...

Interesting idea. I have some friends from other countries who are in arranged marriages, and it has worked for them. Since parents are also human, meaning they may have ulterior motives when they arrange a marriage for a child, I don't think that might be any better solution. What might be absolutely worth considering is a good parent/child relationship and then the child and parents talking openly and sharing disadvantages and benefits of the proposed union. However, nothing's perfect, as we know. The best solution is making sure I'm a good person and partner and then handling whatever comes. The emphasis being on who I am and what I do, not on the partner's. What do you think? MB

Bobby Brown said...

Being the magnificent person I am it never enterd my mind that a parent might have ulterior motives! I think you are right I just meant by the arranged marriages that since their was no heart throb there was nothing left except to work at being a good partner. I really like your statement about focusing on my actions rather than my partners.