Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fat Tuesdays : The Myth of Love

There was a weird thing that happened...it started before I officially married Adam, but it continues as we stay married...I notice more the representations of love in the media. Like the movie, "P.S. I Love You" with Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank. Before I was in a relationship with Adam, it was one of my favorite movies. I watched it a lot. I watched it when I was sad and I watched it when I was happy and I snuggled up with a blanket and ice cream to watch it because I just liked it. But one night, I told Adam he was going to watch one of my favorite movies because I just wanted to be entertained and not to think and I know it wasn't his thing, but whatever, this is what we were doing.

As I watched it with Adam, I liked the movie a lot less.

The movie starts with the couple fighting. He had said something to her mom and she decided it was awful and she decided there were a ton of hidden meanings and so she didn't speak to him and then they fought and it was a hot mess of just being mean to each other. Prior to my relationship with Adam, I probably didn't like the fighting scene, but I understood it was probably a slightly realistic representation of whatever couples do. Watching it within a loving relationship, I saw it for the bullshit it was.

This is the problem with media. It really, really, really fucks up representations of love and romance and marriage and relationships.

Where I work, there is a sign that says:

Of all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you.

The moment I saw that sign, I wanted to laugh and also burn it. It's such a ridiculous idea of what love is. I told Adam about the sign and told him how it's not true because I've had my hands full with six ducklings and that is still the most awesome thing I've held. I talked to a girl at work about it and she was like, "Yeah, or maybe a puppy." Which is a good point. I like holding Adam's hand, but I really like holding a puppy or a kitten...and seriously, nothing beats having your hands full with ducklings.

I was on Instagram and man, I wish I had saved this, but I saw someone had a card with a watercolor illustration of a few potted cacti and words in script that said something like, "I love you more than all the green things." I showed it to Adam and said, "I love you a lot, but I do not love you more than all the green things or Lake Erie or any part of nature because nature is cooler than any person." He seemed shocked and I thought, "Now I've done it...now I've been like my friend who laughed at his wife when she said he was her soulmate."* But then Adam told me he thinks I'm pretty great but that all the bogs in Ireland are better.

Our society creates these weird, fucked up ideas of what love is and puts them on little signs and sells them on Etsy...and maybe some people get that it's meant to convey a fantastical idea, but I just don't think so.

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But ideas about love don't begin and end with romantic comedies and signs sold on Etsy.

I've been watching, "American Housewife," because I so want to see a fat woman represented in the media. And it is so, so, so awful. It has so many tropes, like the black and Asian best friend with the white lead; or the fat woman who is the butt of all the jokes instead of just in love with herself; or the sorry housewife who never gets a nap and has to defend her right not to work...and worst of all, The Wife Who Never Has Sex.

It hurts my heart and my brain when I see her husband look at her with puppy dog eyes and she refuses sex over and over and over...or they use it as a bargaining chip. It's such a shitty representation of women and of marriage.

The fucked up thing is that all these stupid signs and stupid movies and stupid tv shows and stupid lyrics to stupid love songs and to stupid break up songs and to stupid "I want to be in love" songs is that all of them create this huge myth surrounding love and it totally affects us.

Because what if, like me, you don't love your person more than all the green things? (Or biscuits and gravy or bacon or coffee or football?) How are you supposed to feel when you're like, "Well, I love you. I want to be committed to you. Maybe I want to marry you and have kids with you. But like, can you please go away so I can watch four hours of football and just really enjoy something that I really love?" Are you supposed to feel bad about that? And why do we pretend like one person is suddenly going to replace every relationship you've had (except with God and your mom) and take some spot on this pedestal in life? And like, who wants to be on that pedestal? Or worse yet, what if you think that fighting and being disrespectful is normal so you never check your bullshit and you just constantly take it out on your person?

Y'all, there's a big myth in our society and that myth is LOVE.

Honestly, I'm not even really the most qualified to talk about this anyway because I will be the first to admit that I don't even know what love really is. Sometimes, I tell Adam that. I say, "I honestly don't know what love means but I know I have good feelings for you more than I've ever had for anyone else, and that's just where I am." It disappointed him the first time I said it, but it's true. I say, "I love you," to him and often. I've said, "I love you," to other people as well. But I can't even tell you that I've felt whatever it is...and maybe that's because society has been trying to tell me what it is and I don't agree!

At the end of the day, all those sappy signs seem really stupid to me. Why am I supposed to pretend that this person in my life, this new person, is suddenly going to replace all the other people (and cats) that I have known for much longer? And why should I love a person more than I love nature or food or cats? But also, marriage doesn't mean I don't want to have sex, ever, except when I want money. And love isn't about fighting and taking my bullshit out on someone.

It's about respect and treating him the way I want to be treated and in a manner that ensures we can uphold our vows. If I never have sex with Adam and I pick fights all the time and I act like I can use him as a dumpster for all my bullshit or if I try to create some mythical fantasy of emotions I've never felt...then there is no way he or I will ever be able to sustain this.

Love is a myth. Respect and commitment and dedication and honesty...those are all true, real things.

*Yes, I had a friend who doesn't believe in soulmates and when his wife said they were, he laughed at her. He knew it hurt her feelings but he also couldn't apologize for not feeling something he didn't believe in. When we chatted about it, I agreed with him. They are still married and she probably still thinks they are soulmates and I know he just thinks they are a really great match and he is really happy to have her in his life.

3 comments:

  1. I think that any relationship - be it family, friends or romantic - is built on respect and trust, otherwise it's not going to work. I have had people in my life who were clearly selfish and didn't respect me, so I ended those relationships. And for me, I think that if someone trusts and respects you, then they will completely understand that you may love other things 'more' than them.

    But personally I love things in different ways anyway, so I don't even think the love I have for my family and friends is comparable to my love for chocolate, music, or Doctor Who. Each of those things, just like each important person in my life, makes me feel a certain way, like I'm a jigsaw and they are all helping fill up my missing pieces. And I realise that's probably getting close to a cliché but I think it's probably more apt than some of the crappy ones you mentioned, the kind you see on Etsy.

    I think love is for each of us to learn and discover, find what it means to us - but as you say, the way it's portrayed in movies and on TV is certainly not good, it's not healthy for people to aspire to.

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    1. Sure the things you say make sense...but love, for men, has always been portrayed differently than for women. The expectations are different. But I really like what you said about being a jigsaw. I'm going to ponder on that.

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