Is love the most important thing?
Is Love the Most Important Factor When Looking for a Spouse?
The epic tale of Romeo and Juliet conveyed a love that was so strong and emotionally powerful between two young lovers that it has caused generations among generations to read about it. Flash forward to modern day, some people believe that we have walked past our future spouses without even knowing it. With all of the people we walk by each and every day it’s something that could actually happen! The topic of love is not something that has just recently come about. Love has been around since the beginning of time and has always intrigued us. Among all of the commotion that our lives entail, practically everyone can say that they have squeezed in a thought or two about a future husband or wife at least once. But in this day and age what is the most important thing to consider once we meet the person that we think could be the one? This question has been raised by many and some think that in order to make things work you have to have sentimental feelings and a bond to hold a relationship together. However, others have brought a different side to light. Is it actually who can offer the best life style and support, is it love that trumps all, or is it a mixture of both?
This topic, if love is the most important thing when looking for a spouse, is interesting to a wide verity of people because it is a question that so many of us will come across at some point in our lives. Now as a college student, I find myself wondering even more about this matter. Settling down isn’t something that seems so drastically far off in the future any more. Relationships are all around us, in the tabloids, movies, and the lyrics of so many songs on the radio. All of this greatly influences the way we think about things, but what the right thing is, is unclear. Although a stable life with all of the perks would be nice, is it even worth it if there is no love present? What would keep your significant other from walking away once a better mate came along if there isn’t love, connection, and compatibility as a foundation to begin with?
One way to look at this issue is no, love is not the most important thing when it comes to finding a spouse. People that support this claim are those that have grown up in cultures in which arranged marriages are condoned. To those who practice arranged marriages, these types of union are considered an economic and social necessity. The terms that are agreed upon for the wedding and couple are made by the families of the potential bride and groom. Whether the bride and groom are in love is not a priority and is not a question that arises while the arrangements are being made. A main concern is if the marriage is stable, also, if they have something substantial to offer on another. In such a culture, they believe that a partner has to be suitable and worthy, whether or not they have a lot in common or if they will be highly compatible is not taken into consideration.
Pressure on the individual that is supposed to get married can start as early as around their first birthday, like it did for Anita Jain, author of “Is Arranged Marriage Any Worse Than Craigslist?” The pressure only grew from there to encompass ads being placed into immigrant newspapers every couple of years by her father in an attempt to marry her off. Many elders raised in these ways, like Jain’s mother, believe that “love is something that can grow with time…” but that a marriage can work without it. Like I mentioned before, love isn’t a new concept, but neither are arranged marriages as Julie Peakman points out in her essay “Poise and Passion in the Middle Ages”. Peakman states that “courtly love was thought to be a pure love” and “A man was supposed to woo his Lady by acting out noble and brave deeds in order to impress and gain her favours.” Just like today, it was also judged by the parents and scrutinized to see whether or not the man was suitable for the daughter. Similarly, the choice was based on the man’s family, stature in society, and what he had to offer. In the Middle Ages, passion and love were seen as unstable and things that could lead to misfortune. However, the arranged relationships were seen to be at better standings. The soul mate concept is not something that these types of cultures nurture. They would agree with the essay “Is Love a Flimsy Foundation” by Bradfod Wilcox and Jeffrey Drew. Through research they found that while spouses that married under a soul mate concept “of marriage experienced high levels of satisfaction, they also experienced high levels of divergence and divorce.” To these cultures, love isn’t something that is stable. However, by living in a culture that arranges marriages, flirting is essentially removed from the equation. This could be a harmful thing according to Belinda Luscombe’s essay “Why We Flirt”. According to her studies, single people flirt because there is no obligation attached to their actions at first and through this process, they find a mate. On the other hand, married people flirt because, although they may have found a good or superior mate and ensured that their “genes have carried into the next generation”, they feel intrigued and curious. While Luscombe’s article is not specifically directed at arranged marriages, it comes to light that because people in arranged marriages didn’t get the chance to flirt and find a mate for themselves, the urge could be intensified even more so after being married because they didn’t get the chance to go through and select their personal choice.
Another way to look at this issue is Yes, love is the most important thing when it comes to finding a spouse. People that believe this statement to be true are people that have an affirmative outlook on love and who have a choice when it comes to dating. Also, it could encompass those who have successfully put a relationship together based on love. This group believes that love is the key component in a relationship and that it is the glue that holds a relationship together; it is essentially in the foundation needed in order to keep a relationship going. Without love, there is no binding agent to hold the couple together if hard times come about or someone better comes along. To them, arranged marriages are something that they couldn’t bear to have to go through. Steven Pinker paints a picture in his essay, “Crazy Love” that helps the reader visualize what a world based off of these circumstances and relationships could look like, he describes it as“…a world without the involvement of love…”(Pinker) and he compares mate selection to “rational shoppers looking for what is the best in an available mate” (Pinker). To this group, a world like this would be their worst nightmare. Both of the parties involved have to have adequate feelings of love for the other to make something so significant work. The odds are high that someday one of the people involved in the relationship will meet someone who is more desirable and then at that point one would virtually dump their partner (Pinker). In order to find a mate that will not just up and leave when they find a better option, one has to find someone that is emotionally committed to you because of you. If this commitment and love for one another is present then that emotion won’t easily be forgotten. It would have created a bond that would keep one from leaving the other for someone who has something better to offer, they would more likely be willing to fight for what they already have.
After getting feedback from my English 1304 class I found that eleven out of twelve, about ninety-two percent of the class agreed that love was the most important factor when it comes to looking for a spouse. Some of their individual responses included that they “…couldn’t imagine spending the majority of [their] life with someone [they] had no feelings for and barely knew in the first place. Without love it would be almost impossible to stay together.” Another proposed that they thought “…that arranged marriages most of the time proposed problems because it wasn’t their choice. Having an emotional connection [could] really affect everything else, and [could] help overcome issues.” By loving one another, a couple makes a commitment to each other that is not as easily broken like it might be for those who lack it.
Lastly, a moderate perspective in which a marriage has to have a mixture of love and commonalities is what makes up the third position. Like the second position, the people that believe in this are people that have a positive outlook on love and who have a choice when it comes to dating, and those who have successfully put a relationship together based on love. However, it also includes those who have a bit of a logical approach as well. They believe that in order to have a functional, yet long lasting connection, a marriage has to have a balance of both love and compatibilities between the two people involved. Some of these commonalities could include education levels, desire for children, and religious belief. This position is proved in a study that was done by Bradford Wilcox and Jeffery Drew. Wilcox and Drew found that “individuals who embraced norms of marital permanency… and were embedded in social networks and religious institutions enjoyed high-quality stable marriages”(Wilcox). Because the couples that were studied had similarities, they were able to thrive and interact on a greater level with one another. They were able to use their similarities to form a deeper bond. While everyone’s checklist may vary, everyone still has their own version of it. Your significant other does not have to have all of the items on the list in common with you but it could prove to be a quality marriage full of love and interaction if both parties were compatible on more than one level.
It seems that both the far right and the far left sides of the spectrum in response to this question have firm arguments but in the end it comes down to personal belief and preference. While there are many cultures that have made relationships work through arranged marriages, I was not brought up in one. I identify with the third party because I believe that there has to be love present to hold two people together however, the two people have to have at least some common ground in order to be compatible. While love can grow over time, I believe that it has to be there in the first place to make that kind of commitment. If hard times come about, a couple with love as a foundation will most likely be more willing to push through it and work it out in order to stay with the one they love rather than a couple who was forced together. A life with another person without love would simply, at its best, be dull. I want to spend my life with someone I love and cherish and can be happy with, not someone who feels like a roommate I have to live in order to please my family.
Jain, Anita. “Is Arranged Marriage Really Worse Than Craigslist?” Perspectives on Argument, 05. 2012. 487-493. Print
Peakman, Julia. “EBSCOhost.” EBSCO Publishing Service Page. History Today, Aug. 2011. Web. 05. 2012
Pinker, Steven. "Crazy Love." Time. Time, 17 Jan. 2008. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.
Wilcox, W. B. & Dew, J. P. (August 2009). Is love a flimsy foundation? Soulmate versus institutional models of marriage. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Sociological Association. San Fransisco, CA
WriteWork contributors. “Why We Flirt” by Belinda Luscombe. WriteWork.com 12 November, 2009. Web. 02 Feb. 2012