The love=passion fallacy / La falacia de amor = pasión

“The two Fridas” – 1939 by Frida Kahlo, Museo de Arte Moderno, Ciudad de México, Mexico (2019)

In a recent wedding ceremony I attended, the main speaker -a close friend of the family and married man of forty something years old- delivered the following message to the young marrying couple: “love, my friends, is based on passion. I congratulate the bride and the groom because their strong passion shows how deeply in love these two are. Keep your passion alive, guys, and your marriage will continue flourishing in many, many years to come “.

I was about to stand up in outrage, disrupt the whole thing and scream out loud: “what are you talking about, you idiot? You are misleading these young folks! Love does not equate passion, you moron!”. Then I reminded myself that I was only a distant invitee, an insignificant actor in that theatrical play. Moreover, what right did I have to say anything? Absolutely none: after all, I became a recent divorcee and my marriage had come to a sorrowful end. So I bit my tongue and remained silent for the rest of the speech and the rest of the night.

Funny enough, it is quite possible that the message delivered by our well intended (yet superficial) orator actually resonated well with its young target. In fact, I saw the young couple nodding their heads, multiple times. That is exactly what youngsters want to hear: that love feeds on passion and fire, that love strives on desire and outward energy, that love is extroversion and bold moves. The life of 21st century millennials is built around all these principles. But shouldn’t we, older people, warn the younger ones on the real dangers that lie ahead? Shouldn’t we tell them as it is, not as they believe it to be?

Young brides and grooms of the world, this is my blog here and I am free to express my thoughts! Struggling spouses around the planet, you probably know this better than I do. Novice couples, in cities and towns across the country, here I offer my two cents on the subject matter: for love to survive, passion is not needed. Yes, passion may get you started in your journey -no doubt- and that is perfectly okay, but other qualities should kick in as the relationship moves forward. The faster you get over the passion fallacy, the better.

The 20th century author and philosopher Eric Fromm had already explained this dichotomy in his seminal book The Art of Loving (1956). Love is not what you see or what transpires: love is the invisible, the minute, the day to day, the closeness of a hug, the tender intimacy, the cooking together, the forgiveness, the long hours and the less spectacular. Love is the daily struggles, the patience and the overcoming of the unavoidable irritations. Love and passion are not synonyms, while the former is hard work the latter burns as easy as gasoline.

Maybe instead of masters of the illusory, we should let the masters of reality take over in wedding ceremonies. What kind of things would Eric say in a modern wedding ceremony ? Nothing very different from what he had already said in his book because , geez, a truth does not change in time. Hey, maybe we should let divorcees say a thing or two in these occasions: after all, they have already been to hell and back. They will certainly have some good stories to share *

2 Comments

  1. Passion is often the precursor of many long term relationships, and it as often a deceptive element that ruins many romantic associations when the fire supply stops. I agree that those of us with marital experience should counsel the new couples about the dangers of confusing the sensual love of the first stage with the enduring love that makes relationships thrive. However, it seems to me that young people are not now as naive as previous generations. Many millennials are actually marrying not only later but well after their initial passions have burned, and are entering marriage with someone with whom they have much in common in socioeconomic terms, and with whom they can maintain a conversation for years to come. Whether this new approach to marriage will be successful is hard to predict. Perhaps these agreeable arrangements will lead to horrible midlife crises, exarcebate the now trending gray divorce, which in many cases result in new, rejuvenating associations that add much spice to our lives.

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    1. I certainly appreciate your perspective. Yes, I may have been overly simplistic in my qualification of millennials. The key (and difficulty) to long marriages is being able to refresh and rejuvenate the marriage itself. That’s an arduous task. Thanks for your comments, always so sharp.

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