Can Love Grow?

While the source of this quote may surprise you, I think what it says is very true: “Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things.” – Keanu Reeves

I’ve had lots of conversations with people about that elusive “spark.” Do you think it has to be there on the very first date or in that first kiss? Or can that spark develop over time? I’m honestly asking and I hope you’ll share your thoughts, since I don’t know the answer to that question.

All of my relationships that started with an intense spark went down in flames – in one case, somewhat literally. Does that mean it’s better to let love grow and develop, or simply that I haven’t had that spark with the right person yet?

For most of history, marriage existed solely as a business arrangement between two families. In 12th century Europe, almost everyone believed love could only be found through adultery, not marriage, since upper-class parents arranged their children’s marriages before the bride and groom had even met one another. By the 14th century even poor villagers could be forced to marry at the will of their lords. French essayist Montaigne wrote in the 16th century, “Any man in love with his wife must be so dull that no one else could love him.”

Only in 18th century Europe did the concept of married love begin to spread through the salons of Enlightenment thinkers. And even then women were still encouraged to consider their potential partner’s financial means above and beyond their personal feelings towards the man. The Victorian era then ushered in the idea of women as supremely chaste and pure (and the beginning of women wearing white at their weddings to indicate virginity), which led to men feeling more comfortable having sex with prostitutes instead of with their virtuous wives.

Dating developed in the 1920s in the U.S., and for the first time the couple could have some time alone before marriage away from the watchful eyes of their parents or chaperones. Of course in the 50’s the pendulum swung back the other direction with the idea of the perfect nuclear family dominating culture. A survey conducted in 1957 revealed that people who chose to remain single were “sick,” “neurotic,” or “immoral.” Then came the sexual revolution and the first skyrocketing of the divorce rate.

So where does that leave us today? For hundreds of years marriage had nothing to do with love, yet today marriage represents the ultimate union of two people truly in love. The divorce rate, however, remains high, and experts estimate at least 50% of men and women have cheated on their partners. Is there an answer, then, to creating a lasting relationship? Do you need that initial spark so when times get tough you can look back on the blissful passion of the early days? Or is it better to find someone who you know would be good for you whether or not that spark exists?

I look forward to hearing your opinions!

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2 Responses to Can Love Grow?

  1. Ken says:

    Wow. Could you come up with a more difficult question? I’ve been married 16 years and I have to work just as hard on it today as I did with I was dating my wife in college. Yes, there is an answer to creating a lasting relationship. Yes, you need some early spark. And yes, there’s always someone out there better, spark or no. I suppose the answer to all the questions is C. All of the above. It difficult, frustrating; requires more patience and compromise than most are will to give up, sometime to the point where you want to pull your hair out. But at the same time it’s immensely rewarding and you can’t imagine sharing the years with anyone else. Publishing your first novel may indeed be easier than finding the perfect relationship.

  2. Katie says:

    I love this question!!! Let me ruminate.

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