Saturday, June 17, 2006

Khalil on marriage..

Then Almitra spoke again and said... "And what of Marriage, master?" And he answered saying: You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But 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 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, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Now this is just wonderful isn't it? I've been pondering on marriage and relationships lately as I am not the best example in making them work. I believe there is a big difference between unconditional love for a child and love in a mutual relationship. I think - and don't get me wrong, I don't rationalize everything- that an adult relationship has got more economics in it. What's the return on investment? Is the relationship balanced? In a relationship 1 and 1 should add up to 3, not 3/4. I say unconditional love doesn't exist in human relationships (besides the parental). There's always the "what's in it for me issue too". And that's ok..or is it?


madcapmum said...

Well, I'm sticking my neck out here, but I'm going to go ahead and say I don't believe in unconditional love. Period. Not in any relationship. I'd say that the love of parents for children has a fair bit of self-interest (or biological interest if you like) in it, mine included.

I think there are times when you go more than halfway, and sometimes more than that, but to me the phrase "unconditional love" is a euphemism for "I'm going to be nice to you and rub your nose in it, in order to gain power in the relationship." Or sometimes, "I'm going to prove what an extra-ordinarily spiritual individual I am by loving one so extremely unloveable as this." Do I want to be loved "unconditionally", or would I like to feel that I live up to some basic human expectations?

Taking it to extremes, what does it mean to extend "unconditional love" to a serial killer? I feel "love" for him/her? Why? Does that make the world a better place? Does that make the world a safer place? So then I bring it back to the domestic sphere - if I extend "unconditional love" to a monstrously self-centred or destructive spouse, how is anyone's world improved? What does it MEAN?

Sorry. I've been thinking about this term a lot lately, and I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't mean anything useful. It's a favourite catch-phrase in our local church-communities, but it doesn't seem to play out in any practical way.

Should I run for cover now? ;-)

Lindsay Lobe said...

The idea of unconditional love is fine, but its execution is fleeting as adult’s relationships I suspect will always seek out certain conditions to be satisfied!

Unconditional love as an expectation is an impossible dream.

Instead may I leave with the reflection from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Barmier
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because that is what love is.

Love is not breathless; it is not excitement; it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love ‘which any of us convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches were found that we were one tree and not two.

Best wishes

Callooh said...

my favourite, from The Prophet, has always been the one on Children (have it on my fridge actually) and I think it sums up the love of and for our children -

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

I am also very fond of the speech in "Guess Who's Coming for Dinner" that Sidney Poitier gives his father when his father tells him that he "owes" him for all the sacrifies his parents made to raise him. It reminds me as much as I love my children they are free to do with their lives as they wish and I will always love them (but perhaps not always their choices) - that to me anyway - is unconditional love. It isn't something I grew up with, but it is something I give my own children.

as for marriage, I am NOT qualified to comment....

abhay k said...

I do not agree that parental love is unconditional as love is a means to secure our existence and existence of our species. Nothing in this universe is unconditional.
I wonder sometimes if we are just pawns in the big game of life and life uses us to the fullest!As Gibran writes on Children..

""Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself."

Kathleen Callon said...

I'll start by saying that I've been married for twelve years and don't have any plans on changing this anytime soon, but I think disposition is more important than love when it comes to whether a relationship will last. My relationship will last because of the way I was raised. I view my spouse and my other relatives' spouses as family... we're all imperfect, but we will always love each other anyway.

Khalil's words are good in that we need "spaces" in relationships. I also like the moments when I don't have space, too. I like drinking from one cup while snuggled up. I like dancing close like we are one. I love having someone I can share myself and my secrets with... who also loves the same, but we are individual souls with "a sea between" our shores.

My husband is on a business trip and won't be back for up to two weeks, and I've been thinking about relationships, too. I miss him, but I'm so enjoying my freedom and space. When he's back, I'll enjoy him, too. Space is good in a loving relationship, but being one when you're together is important, too.

Sometimes I think that because my husband comes from an opposite background where they often attack each other and their weaknesses and just resent and shut out each other (for months or years or forever) over arguments dooms us, but so far so good.

Every relationship is as different as the people in it, though. Relationships are like pendulums set in different motions by the dispositions of those in them. Some are slow and rhythmic... others fast and erratic, but they're always changing.

Endorendil said...

From experience I know that parental love is not necessarily unconditional. And I do not believe it has to be. Most of us have our limits. When those are breached by those we loved, love may cease to be. What remains is a difficult hodgepodge of habits, traditions and turmoil. Love, in the end, does not conquer all.

That said, unconditional love is possible, as a pathological condition. If you love someone who is bad for you and continues to be bad for you, you have a serious dependency issue or a martyr complex. This happens more often than one would like.

Marriage is a tough road. I don't think anyone should walk it lightly - they'll fall and break a leg within the first mile. But I also don't think you have lived life to the fullest without taking this responsibility.

Last but not least, I do believe that there is no "give or take" to marriage. There is no simple thing like 1+1=3. There are no simple economics at stake. It is a life choice, like moving to a different country, buying a house and having a child. As with all human accounts, this one is determined mainly by emotion. There is no objective balance in a lifelong partnership, be it between voluntary partners, or involuntary ones, such as natural family.

Gary said...

Dimitri - you do post the good ones! I believe in unconditional love - but it comes and goes... (conditionally of course). Confused yet?

Actually, I think the true unconditional love is the compassion that we can feel to other humans (even other living things). It's a gift to feel it and it doesn't require a return. In fact, I think that's the gist of Gibran's work - that love or energy that is making each of us breathe in and out. As Madcap says, it's not practical...but it's beautiful.

As for relationships - yikes! There's a lot of evolution packed into that issue. Sometimes I feel like a caveman, sometimes a monk and sometimes like John Travolta in his white suit... dancing for the ladies (well, metahporically at least).

Anonymous said...

I was passing through and reading your responses I felt compelled to share some thoughts with you. Most of you draw the conclusion that love is in fact unconditional.

In this discussion I challenge you to shift your focus.
I believe the question you should be asking is not whether love is unconditional or not, but rather why you feel love can only be unconditional.

Our continuous expectation of love and attention from others often results in dissapointment and subsequently dissatisfaction in frienships/relationships. Soon enough a relationship becomes a battle where every form of love of affection should be equally rewarded.

From early age we grow to seek love and affection of others. Good behaviour gave us hugs and candy, bad behaviour was punished. We have learned how to behave in ordr to receive the attention we desire or require. Half of the time we don't even realise it. When we give, we receive. And more importantly: we expect to receive.

In this proces we have made ourselves dependant on others. Are we really as selffulfilling as we could or should be?

True happiness lies within. Your partner does not GIVE you love, your partner has found a way into your heart for you to FEEL the love you have inside you. The love was always there. A subtle difference.

Ever read Byron Katies book: I need your love, is this true? I conclude my thoughts to you with an example from her book which challenged me to take a different look at my own life.

Katie describes a young girl in a playground making loops. She is doing very well and extatic doing it. Her eyes shine with excitement and happiness. After a while she becomes aware of the children in the playground cheering her on. She now proceeds with her loops, hoping to receive the support and cheers. She must do well, otherwise she might not be cheered on. The children were in fact no longer cheering, distrought doing other things. The little girl went home sad...

Where was her happiness?? Her happiness lies within, still, but she made her happiness depandant on others...And now it was gone...

So I challenge you to shift your focus...Where is your love?

DA said...

Thank you all for your profound (anonymous) thoughts, this has turned out to be a very interesting blogpost thanx to your input.

Might I add two cents myself? I see a distinction between love and relationship and not only in a semantic way. In a mutual relationship there are prerequisites for establishing that relationship and maintaining it. If a boundary is crossed, the relationship fails, falls apart and people separate. With or without unconditional love. I do feel a difference in my love for my son however. Perhaps it is just biological/genetical or a weakhearted feeling -I don't care- but the love for a child at least seems more unconditional to me than any other love. Again, you could also define pure unconditional love as something divine or spiritual that is universal and "whole" and reflects your inner self. But that wisdom seems more theoretical than practical given the fact that from out of 16 million Dutch people 1 million is single (again) and not too happy about it.

But, I too think that the real love lies within ourselves and in the end our quest for love and approval is merely a quest for self-acceptance and has in fact nothing to do with relationships. And if love is what we ARE we could never lose it anyway. However, seeing and dissolving our own blind spots, finding the love that had never left in the first place and becoming emotionally "whole" might just be the most difficult thing to do and takes some of us a lifetime. It took me at least 37 years until now and I'm not there yet I guess :-)

Take care,

Angela said...

Wow, powerful thoughts and words... I feel that love is giving, and that it is constantly in flux. I try to avoid terms such as "unconditional" because of the expectations and pressures it adds.

Thanks for posting such a thought provoking post.

Nova said...

I also am not qualified to comment as I have failed miserably in all my past relationships, and am still working out the "kinks" in my marriage and being somewhat of a newlywed. But, I can say that there are too many factors and issues thrown into the equation of love and relationships (of any kind, even with your own children) for anyone to ever truly say they "unconditionally" love somebody. I think there is an inherent, basic need for a human to know that they will get something in return for loving someone.

Shaneena said...

Aaah... this theme is right on the spot at this moment in time. The subject of "love". Me and my boyfriend of eight months broke up two days ago. Perhaps one main reasons was unbalance in our relationship. Unbalance in giving love.

We are all kings on our small molehills, and when we meet someone we want to share our lives with, we actually have to risk leaving our little molehill to build a new one with our beloved one. That is the building of a relationship, where one is king and one is queen. Equal as beings, different as individuals, both with the gift of giving out love in the fashion of what is needed, and what is wanted. To make balance happen, each have to adjust to the other. Trying to give what he or she needs. Is this love you ask? Yes, it is! You see the need in the one you have love for, and you try to comply to those needs even if it doesn't fall natural to you, but because you want to see your loved one happy and in balance. But of course, it has to go both ways!

To love unconditionally, I believe, you don't need this balance. You give freely, as to your child, without expecting this child to balance you out. My previous boyfriend has a daughter. She is 14 years old, and he loves her above everything on this earth. Perhaps even more than he loves himself. I could see he has the ability to give out love in the fashion that I too needs, but he was not willing to give it to me. (Amongs many other things that didn't fit between us).

Khalil makes me feel that I crave to much though. That I want to much out of a relationship. ... I don't know. All I know at the moment, is that it hurts a lot when having invested so much time , energy and feelings into something that ends so abruptly... (no matter how bad a relationships go, the end still comes abruptly...!)