LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Valentine's Day: Love's changing numbers are written on water

Posted 2.13.18
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There's a more intricate partnership born in our life-relationships than the exciting passion and romance that launches it off. Life's challenges are easier handled with a partner than all alone, usually. Two becomes more than one-and-one; two becomes a one, a team. Mutual help is essential in extreme and in daily demands. Passion's much less helpful.

A partnership has other mundane benefits - - from paying bills to yarding kids around. Add aging's demands and the benefits of two equalling one are clear. Stats tell us couples' life-spans are longer than singles'. Remember this, when we agonize over the excessive costs of relationships. That agony is the cost of mutual help. Our difficulties with each other equal the costs for mutual aid. Plain arithmetic, isn't it?

Any eventual changing of partners deserves this cost-analysis. Aren't we selling our lives short if we make major decisions on one or two factors, like "romance"? We've all heard the complaint, "the passion's gone!" Really, did we expect passion to last forever, undiminished by familiarity and repetition, by chores and daily abrasions?

I'd suggest (if I was asked) that passion won't get us through even half our adult life. And passion can become a distraction, not a benefit.

This arithmetic of romance is highly emotional and usually calculated in-the-moment, not from an calm moment. Any estimation of costs - - or benefits - - of a relationship is ethereal and shifting; love's changing numbers are written on water.

This arithmetic is more profitably calculated early on, and not held in for a crisis. The qualities we youthfully seek cannot be limited only to the qualities of a lover. Practicality, communication skills, calmness, and so on - - these all grow more important as we age and take on more responsibilities, especially for the lives of others. Practical skills will never replace the intensities of passion, but they grow, they do not decline in importance - - as happens one day when we realize the passion-side has taken a bus, Gus. The best we can hope for is that both partners come to this point at roughly the same time.

This is not to say our passions, as they diminish, leave us with an emptiness, but rather that the partnership - - its mutual respect and support - - grows to become the centre of every day.

Grumble all you want about the loss of passion, but remember this arithmetic. Opposed to passion are the challenges of raising kids, especially the teen years, earning a living and supporting each other, building an old-age war chest to deal with the attacks of ill-health, accidents and bad luck, poor judgement calls, midlife crisis (which rarely cease) - - all that creates every relationship's white-water rapids.

So, look for qualities besides good looks, smooth dancing, lovely bosoms, and so on, look for ambition and self-respect, good judgement, intelligence and curiosity, ability to learn and a willingness to cooperate and help out. Arithmetic, hopefully, means we cease fooling ourselves - - a little.

john@johnmahoney.com




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