A Cautionary Valentine for Lovers

Anyone who attempts to define love or advise lovers is a fool. Since I have never claimed to be anything else, I shall try to do both. Invoking Saint Valentine, who for good reason (below) is universally recognized as the patron of lovers, travelers, and happy marriages, I shall try at least to warn you about the enemies of true love.

Let's start, as everyone does nowadays, by Googling love and its rivals. This is always a dubious venture whose results must be regarded with suspicion, but in this case, the conclusion is obvious:

I
7,500,000,000
me
3,230,000,000
love
1,420,000,000
money
827,000,000
war
807,000,000
hate
180,000,000
devil
97,900,000

Love is rather potent stuff. It can easily overcome hatred and the devil, and at its best, it can conquer even war and the love of money. But love can easily be overwhelmed by self-love. The true enemy -- your beloved's perpetual rival -- confronts you in the mirror every morning. Defeat that enemy, and you have a fighting chance of remaining in love for the rest of your life.

Permit me to suggest a rule that may help. If you and your beloved are each willing to surrender your tastes and preferences in favor of the other for fifty percent of the time, you are doomed to failure. This is partly because of a trick of perspective. If you two sit at opposite ends of a room and hold up your hands, yours will look much bigger to you but much smaller to your companion. The same holds true about your tastes and opinions. Moreover, your own tastes and crochets may seem so natural and unquestionable to you that you may be unaware that your beloved dislikes them. Therefore, you must each be willing to defer to the other a minimum of 70% of the time -- or at least that's how it will seem to each of you.

Another rule, which is closely related, comes from Rainer Maria Rilke: "Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."

This is the best definition of love I have ever found -- and also an urgent warning. Whenever anyone talks about love as "two becoming one," the "one" is always one's self. This is absorptive love, whereby one seeks to engulf and absorb the beloved much as an amoeba engulfs and digests its prey. Such "love" is nothing but egotism cunningly disguised. True love requires that the Other remain the Other -- irritatingly but fascinatingly different, so that a lifetime is not long enough to gaze and try to comprehend.

It also requires that you give the other room to grow. As Khalil Gibran put it:

... let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart...

Such love is by its very nature expansive and outreaching. It desires to multiply itself and yearns for more Others to love. Thus, it paves the way for the begetting and nurturing of children. According to theologians, this sort of love is the basis of the Trinity and is the reason why God created universes such as ours and why He so treasures our freedom that He tolerates our rebellions and interferes only when we ask Him to.

This is in stark contrast to the modern view of love, which is based on "liking yourself." It is no wonder that such love is short-lived, childless, and tolerant of abortion as a remedy for "mistakes."

Thus, my lovers, the enemies of your love are selfishness and the world around you. Your weapons against them are mutual reverence, prayer, and above all, willing self-sacrifice. This is why Saint Valentine, although celibate, is the patron of lovers. He was martyred.

Humbly dedicated to the lovely lady who has put up with this stuff for over 43 years. 
Anyone who attempts to define love or advise lovers is a fool. Since I have never claimed to be anything else, I shall try to do both. Invoking Saint Valentine, who for good reason (below) is universally recognized as the patron of lovers, travelers, and happy marriages, I shall try at least to warn you about the enemies of true love.

Let's start, as everyone does nowadays, by Googling love and its rivals. This is always a dubious venture whose results must be regarded with suspicion, but in this case, the conclusion is obvious:

I
7,500,000,000
me
3,230,000,000
love
1,420,000,000
money
827,000,000
war
807,000,000
hate
180,000,000
devil
97,900,000

Love is rather potent stuff. It can easily overcome hatred and the devil, and at its best, it can conquer even war and the love of money. But love can easily be overwhelmed by self-love. The true enemy -- your beloved's perpetual rival -- confronts you in the mirror every morning. Defeat that enemy, and you have a fighting chance of remaining in love for the rest of your life.

Permit me to suggest a rule that may help. If you and your beloved are each willing to surrender your tastes and preferences in favor of the other for fifty percent of the time, you are doomed to failure. This is partly because of a trick of perspective. If you two sit at opposite ends of a room and hold up your hands, yours will look much bigger to you but much smaller to your companion. The same holds true about your tastes and opinions. Moreover, your own tastes and crochets may seem so natural and unquestionable to you that you may be unaware that your beloved dislikes them. Therefore, you must each be willing to defer to the other a minimum of 70% of the time -- or at least that's how it will seem to each of you.

Another rule, which is closely related, comes from Rainer Maria Rilke: "Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."

This is the best definition of love I have ever found -- and also an urgent warning. Whenever anyone talks about love as "two becoming one," the "one" is always one's self. This is absorptive love, whereby one seeks to engulf and absorb the beloved much as an amoeba engulfs and digests its prey. Such "love" is nothing but egotism cunningly disguised. True love requires that the Other remain the Other -- irritatingly but fascinatingly different, so that a lifetime is not long enough to gaze and try to comprehend.

It also requires that you give the other room to grow. As Khalil Gibran put it:

... let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart...

Such love is by its very nature expansive and outreaching. It desires to multiply itself and yearns for more Others to love. Thus, it paves the way for the begetting and nurturing of children. According to theologians, this sort of love is the basis of the Trinity and is the reason why God created universes such as ours and why He so treasures our freedom that He tolerates our rebellions and interferes only when we ask Him to.

This is in stark contrast to the modern view of love, which is based on "liking yourself." It is no wonder that such love is short-lived, childless, and tolerant of abortion as a remedy for "mistakes."

Thus, my lovers, the enemies of your love are selfishness and the world around you. Your weapons against them are mutual reverence, prayer, and above all, willing self-sacrifice. This is why Saint Valentine, although celibate, is the patron of lovers. He was martyred.

Humbly dedicated to the lovely lady who has put up with this stuff for over 43 years. 

RECENT VIDEOS