The weirdness of love
We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird.
And when we find someone whose weirdness
is compatible with ours, we join up with them
and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness —
and call it love — true love.
Robert Fulghum, author (b. 4 Jun 1937)
Most of us fall in love at one time or another. You will, I am sure, agree with the description ‘weird’. We half lose control of our reason. We become obsessed by what we imagine is perfection, almost within our grasp. There’s the sex as well, of course. They tell me that can be pretty weird too but I am from the “We’ll gather lilacs in the spring” generation so more birds & bees than inflated cuties there.
The interesting question about falling in love is why some people do so often, while others seem to hardly experience the sensation at all. The love drive is clearly from within. Is it a search for someone to depend upon? Or for an unquestioning admirer who doesn’t see – or at least doesn’t talk about – our faults and failures? Is it for something we missed in our childhood? Or is it a holy grail of perfection we know we can’t achieve on our own? Whatever the reason for love, the experience is unlike anything we find anywhere else. Such pleasure is bound to bring pain with it. Those who fall in love know about that only too well.
The weirdness of love is that what, at face value, seems to be largely selfish possession turns out to be the opposite. My father’s definition, “Love is the gift of self”, is a good description of how, once the jubilation is over, the business of love must actually work. We may tell young people about this but the love process obliterates most thoughts of giving and concentrates on the taking. So how do those who appear to remain happily married continue to do so?
There was a middle-aged lady with four children who attended the church run by my old friend Fr. Gordon Albion. Her husband was a difficult chap, known for his temper and other not so good attributes. For all that they seemed to get along well and their weekly disagreements were aired quite publicly. One day Gordon asked her “Do you ever think of divorce?” His question was rhetorical because Catholic priests didn’t encourage divorce. She replied “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.” It summed up an attitude that many might have in their married lives. It made light of the difficulties and brought a note of sanity to what was true love.
A cousin-by-marriage, a Squadron Leader who had many sorties over the Ruhr in his bomber during WWII, was married to a lovely lady who died rather young after a debilitating time when he had to care for her in every way. After her death he said, with a sincerity that impressed me so much that I still remember it, “I would have looked after her forever”. Alex Gilbert lived to see his 100th birthday and died soon after that, only a short while ago. You don’t hear love like that too often.
The little Dachshund that accompanied a man who lived to be 104 reacted to his quiet and peaceful death by staying with him for an hour and then going out into the nearby field and sitting there, quite still, watching the sun go down. Then she came into the house and asked for food and carried on naturally for the rest of her life. I have no idea what her love for her owner was, but it appeared to be genuine and totally practical. True love always is, I think.
If we steady the frantic rush we live in for a moment we can see love all around us. Manifest by courage that is not demanded in such a way in any other department of life, it never thinks of itself as brave but may instead be summed up as loyal.
I conclude that you don’t really fall in love at all. Love falls in love with you. You just strap on the parachute and jump.
It is, but for one other, the greatest adventure of all.
If you have a story about love, we’d love to hear it.
firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to send it, please.
We are not marriage guidance counsellors but we do help people who have relationship difficulties – whether love-connected or otherwise.
07 June 2023