The story is well known – male sees female, female sees male; their eyes meet, and soon, junior is produced. A classic tale, steeped in romance? Not quite. This scenario is commonly known in the regnum animalia as the “Mating Season.” It’s the time of year when you hear the throaty “burrup” of the bull frog, the “twit twee” of the birds, the vulgar “wolf whistle” on the street and the long expected “bring” of the telephone. Nature sounds her mating call, and her followers rush to obey.
For humans, mating season is year round. Males and females are forced to play the Jeopardy version of the Dating Game.
“I’ll take ‘brown hair, blue eyes’ for live-in relationship, Alex. The answer is ‘What is the perfect spouse?’”
This is how the modern relationship is played. Partners are chosen according to their face value – literally. Men and women are allured to each other by the attractiveness of their clothes, their hair, or their faces. They “fall in love,” move in with each other, sometimes get married, but that doesn’t last too long. Soon they get a divorce and that sets them free to pursue other interests.
Is it so very different from the animal relationship? Male meets female, they mate, they part. They meet other males and females, they mate, they part – and so on, and so on.
Of course not all creatures of higher intellect act this way. Believe it or not, some actually get married and then mate and, to top it off, they have a life-long relationship with that one person, built up of a mutual respect, love and trust. Crazy, huh? But if it’s so crazy, why does it make so much sense?
The reason is because it isn’t crazy. In fact, this is how marriage is supposed to be – a life-long commitment wit one person with whom you live, love and have children. That’s right- children! That’s what marriage is all about. It’s not just a man and a woman who are “in love” with each other, marriage is about making a family, and a family normally has a few kids in it which is a pretty good reason for commitment.
But some people these days don’t seem to be able to understand this. Instead, they seem to want to ignore or avoid children and commitment. They vow to “love, honour and obey” but under their breath they add “but only as long as I feel like it.” They love children, but when they become pregnant they choose to “get rid of it.”
Why is this? Is it a lack of respect for life? We don’t just live in a “ME” generation, we also live in a disposable one. Disposable marriages, pregnancies, relationships; disposable cups, plates and spoons. What’s the difference? When the party’s over, you toss everything out and walk away.
And when you walk away, don’t look back. If you do, you’re bound to find something distasteful. Who wants to see their children blaming themselves because Mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore? Who wants to feel like the villain, so we make ourselves heroes.
“See how much I love you son? Just look at all the things I’ve bought you. Your mother doesn’t buy you these things.” Or, “It’s my choice, it’s my body, not theirs. Do they think they can control me?” Now someone else is the villain, someone else is to blame and we are once again invincible.
But with invincibility, there always is a weak point. Superman had his kryptonite and Samson had his hair. What weakness am I referring to? It’s the need for love and which causes us to rush towards nature’s mating call and play the dating game. It’s what makes the modern relationship go round in its never ending cycle of matings and partings. It’s love for ourselves which make us the heroes and others the villains. But this is a superficial and selfish type of love which only lasts and satisfies us for so long. When it is gone we become weak, defenceless and alone once more.
What do we have to do in order to avoid feeling unsatisfied and vulnerable? The answer is, of course, that we must find a more lasting love. You can find an example of lasting love in a long-term marriage.
What enables a husband and wife to put up with each others’ quirks and habits throughout the years? It’s a noble love, which is made up of self-giving, respect and trust. This love is far superior to the selfish type. This love understands that even when the first rush of romance is over, when the novelty of the courtship has faded, when Marsha loses her youthful beauty, and John his hair, there will still be respect, trust and understanding.
If we want to remain human and escape from the animal-like modern relationship, our only hope is to learn and cultivate this more noble love.
(Patricia Nonato is entering her first year at the University of Western Ontario.)