In my novel, link
, this is a kind of trick question that Nancy asks Wayne in her chapter six exploration of his capacity and maturity for the love she is seeking. It has generated a few questions back to me about whether Wayne's affirmative answer represents the author's position. I've been ducking the question because I didn't feel that my position was well enough developed to hold up to tough follow-up questions. It is a complex issue, one most people take for granted or rely on cultural conditioning to answer, plus it can be dealt with at multiple levels.
For instance, this is a question weighted with moral significance. Many religious systems require lifetime commitment to the marriage relationship. The problem with religious precepts of this type is that they tend to take on an isolated "be all" and "end all" feel to them. By that I mean that they tend to hit us between the eyes as being somewhat arbitrary. I mean, if there is a God, and if He is a loving God, is there a reason He would set this requirement? It's fairly easy to see the societal benefit of a commandment against stealing, but in an era of advanced medical technology and birth control, it's harder to see the benefit of strictures on sexual conduct. Then, beyond even that, is this requirement for lifetime marriage commitment which...is pretty close to our original question of whether the romantic commitment should be for life.
What do you think? Is there a benefit to lifetime commitment? Well, I think there certainly is if you elect to enter a lifetime commitment. Or, viewed another way, if the lifetime commitment is something you've already entered into, then it's clear to see how a lot of damage can result from breaking the agreement. For if I break the agreement, say by dumping my wife for a younger model, and if she is still loving me and relying on my marriage vows, then it's clear that she will be hurt by my actions. And if you factor in the effects on my children and our extended families, the emotional damage can become catastrophic. I guess this is not too surprising. Study after study has confirmed that divorce is just as emotionally devastating as death of a spouse. It is fascinating how films and literature like to portray the reality differently, but...well, maybe we can explore that in another post.
But there is another, higher question. What if we remove the legal framework of marriage altogether as factor in the discussion? I realize that this is somewhat hypothetical. But let's premise a world just like ours except that marriage has not yet been invented. So now I meet the girl of my dreams, the attraction is mutual, and I have to decide how I will love her. Regardless of how she is feeling and how she views our relationship, is there an advantage if I personally commit to loving her for life as opposed to, say, loving her for two years? That will be the subject of part 2 of this post, and it leads us to even more intriguing questions.
R (Rob) Costelloe
Coinage of Commitment was published in June of 2007. In a departure from conventional novels of this genre, this love story describes characters who love at a higher level than the world all around them, a level requiring mental preparation as well as emotional commitment. The lovers face unique challenges in reaching the zenith they seek, and the story examines some of the challenges and pitfalls they face on their journey. The manuscript received multiple contract offers for publication, and Saga Books published it on a fast track basis in less than three months. To learn more, visit Rob's website at www.rcostelloe.com