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Marriage and Family in America



            “Off into the sunset they rode, and they lived happily ever after.” These words are a dream that everyone has thought of once in their lifetime. The feeling of connection with someone else, knowing that they care is great dream to have, (having that “significant other”). But having all these warm-hearted feelings, does it mean that is love?  What is love? Could love be an equation Love=A+B=C+D, and if you are missing something of that equation you can’t call it love? Does it mean you have to be married to be in love? Marriage seems to always be the typical saying “two people love each other, want to spend the rest of their lives with each other.” Love is so hard to describe. Is it an emotional feeling towards someone else, or is it a physical attraction? Of course one must have a different feeling when they say they are “in love.” Psychologist Robert Sternberg said that love is a triangular theory. Each point develops the different reactions people have had towards “love.” The components of the triangle consist of intimacy, commitment, and passion. Intimacy means having a connection with someone and having the ability to choose to be close, love, and be vulnerable. Commitment is when two people (in a marriage or relationship) make a promise to each other to stay true to each other. Passion is a strong emotion to someone else, usually referring to a wanted desire.

So, it seems that love must be a strong physical and mental attraction to someone else. It could be to someone of the same sex, opposite sex, mother, father, sibling, grandparent. Love is so strong that it can’t even be defined. Is love always a positive thing? So we would hope. Love, an everlasting feeling.

            Though it can never be tested, love seems to go all the way back to Adam and Eve. (How else would we all be here? Religious terms.) For example, in the musical “Children of Eden,” Adam and Eve were not first married. Love has its levels. They were first strangers, were thought of as brother and sister first, started getting that stronger feeling for each other, and seemed to just have that connection. They grew old to have children, who had children, who had children etc. In a marriage, love always seems to be the first slice in the pie. After the family starts to form it seems more a “parental love.” Who is going to take the kids to school? Who is making dinner? Where are you going tonight? Never been in a marriage, it is interesting to observe marriages. Of course they the man and woman love each other, love to hold hands, kiss, have children to share their happiness with. But I still there is more. I don’t think love is just “that feeling” There has to be more. Each person has to have some trust for the other person. Day to day in the United States the divorce rate keeps going up. In The State of Our Union, by David Popenoe and Barbara Whitehead both state that since the 1970’s, in a survey taken by couples, only a small percentage claim the marriage to be a “very happy” one. Interesting, don’t people marry for love? No. I think many people see a successful life to be part of a marriage. Many teens have started marrying early since the 1980’s. Teenage pregnancy, abandoned children, dropouts is increasing. That “love at first sight” seems to really grab people into a dream of rainbows and unicorns. But is it really that? I mean, it’s more a physical attraction. If people started marrying the first time they would see “love at first sight,” a wedding would be happening every hour of every day. No, but people really get caught up in the their feelings. I think this is why so many marriages don’t work. (Now I don’t know the cause of all ends of marriages,) but it seems that more people want to get married at younger ages and they have no clue what they are doing. In some cultures it is seen that the younger you marry the earlier kids come. Some parents can even control marriages. The Hindu tradition is that “first you marry, then fall in love.” Seems smart way to look at marriage. I mean, you learn to love a person, instead of thinking you love a person. Also there are so many other factors that play into a “successful” marriage. Many a things aren’t important but you do consider all your options. Is that other person really going to be there? Do they have a good job, or education that will help pay bills? So many things factor into a marriage. Many people though, want to find the one who will be there and love you. You want that person to swear that they will remain true to you, love you in good times and bad times. Stephanie Coontz said in her article The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love, that when people stand up at the altar to say their vows they are promising the other one that “they will remain in that same excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition contentiously until death do them part.” Funny, it’s what people promise to do when they get married. You are promising something you really can’t say you are going to keep. I mean, one could always say, “Love is strong to conquer all.” That’s how it should be.

            Though I personally have never gone through a marriage, divorce, or a longer lasting relationship over two years, I have thought of love. High School relationships may sound funny. I mean they are only kids who think they are in love, a crush, something that won’t mean anything, a short relationship. I disagree with this “theory.” Though many people go through numerous relationships in high school, there are some that last.  I had a friend who is still with her boyfriend and they really fought their “love” out. By this I mean, in high school there is drama, and they were right in the middle. The thing that many people see is that the man has to be older. No, he doesn’t have to be older, but it does seem to be a big percentage in many relationships. She had to deal with people asking her why she was dating such a younger guy. “He’s not mature.” “You can do so much better than him.” “I am so disappointed in you.” Yes, this all goes back to high school drama, but she really stuck it out. She would break down and cry and times because she thought she would break, but she truly cared about her boyfriend that she toughed it out. I don’t know if I could call it love, but I think for a relationship there has to be bad times where two people in the relationship have to work together to over come the problem. I have seen many a times fights that have almost ruined a marriage. The little things may be end up being the biggest fights. Being in love isn’t always having things goes the right way. There are always going to be obstacles, and to over come them to get to “love” we need someone else to help us cross it together.

            Over time, love has become a big star in the lights. Everyone wants to be just like love. In the movie Titanic, two complete strangers meet and than fall in love. The song My Heart Will Go On, the lyrics are very interesting. “Love can touch us one time, and last for a lifetime, and never let go till we’re gone.” So is love just a feeling that can never go away? Is it always with us? I think for certain cases this is true. Love my siblings. I will never stop loving them. Though we may fight, they will always be part of me. I will always love them. Love. That word again! But it is true; I do love them. How do I know? Because I could never stop talking to them, dump them, give back the ring, or leave them at the altar. It reminds me of the book, Mama, Do You Love Me, by Barbara M. Joosse.  It is about a little girl who asks her mother if she would burn her shoes, would she still love her. I love how the Barbara expressed her view of love. What the relationship between the mother and daughter was. Even though not everyone is perfect, love will still overpower the bad. It was interesting how the mother explained her love for her child, and how she said, “I would be upset, but I would still love you.” So is love just an intimate feeling? Do people need to be married to be in love? Is it is just an equation?