Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: romance

Can Romance Turn into a Disease?


The pest control guy came over this morning, ready to spray away the carpenter ants. These ants had built a colony in the heating vent, he explained, and survived in what felt to them like summer. When they were hungry, they came out to my kitchen to pick up crumbs.

As he sprayed the edges of the house, he stroke a conversation about the importance of family. He said he had been married for thirty years and had three adult children who were healthy and well educated. He said that other people in his family were not as fortunate, that they had divorced, which had a negative impact on their children when they grew up.

The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that “Probably, 40 or possibly 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.” This once did not apply to the Chaldean (Christian Iraqi) community in America. But nowadays, divorce has become a trend to a people that once were determined to make it work, especially when children were involved.

“People spend a year or two preparing for the wedding,” said the pest control guy. “They pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars going all out. They have the wedding reception, and then the marriage lasts as little as a year.”

In his case, it took thirty days to prepare for his wedding. It was just a matter of calling the priest, calling a local restaurant to make a reservation, inviting the closest people and reserving most of the focus on the marriage, not the wedding.

I remembered something my yoga instructor said last week. She’s a beautiful Asian woman that looks as though she’s 24 years old. But when she said she’d been married for 34 years and has two children, I figured she’s much older than that. As we groaned while holding a position for what felt like forever, she said, “The challenge is learning how to become comfortable in what sometimes feels uncomfortable. That’s how my marriage with my husband has lasted this long.”

Most of the divorces that he and I witnessed were for petty issues that could have been worked out. I thought about something that Stuart Wilde once said, “What makes anything sacred is the fact that we concentrate on it and say, ‘This is sacred.’ You make it important. In fact love is actually concentration. Romance is actually a disease that comes from over concentrating on another person.”

The best article that talks about this is by Axinia, a Russian born blogger and photographer who works and lives in Austria.

Romantic Love vs. True Love and Why Happy Marriages are so Rare in the West

By: Axinia

Romantic love is the single greatest energy system in the Western psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy…We are so accustomed to living with the beliefs and assumptions of romantic love that we think it is the only form of “love” on which marriage or love relationships can be based. We think it is the only “true love”. But there is much that we can learn from the East about this. In Eastern countries, like those of India and Japan, we find that married couples love each other with great warmth, often with a stability and devotion that puts us to shame. But their love is not “romantic love” as we know it. They don’t impose the same ideals on their relationships, nor do they impose such impossible demands and expectations on each other as we do.

Romantic love has existed throughout history in many cultures. We find it in the literature of ancient Greece, the Roman empire, ancient Persia, and feudal Japan. But our modern Western society is the only culture in history that has experienced romantic love as a mass phenomenon. We are the only society that makes romance the basis of our marriages and love relationships and the cultural ideal of “true love”.

One of the greatest paradoxes in romantic love is that it never produces human relationships as long as it stays romantic. It produces drama, daring adventures, wondrous, intense love scenes, jealousies, and betrayal; but people never seem to settle into relationship with each other as flesh-and-blood human beings until they are out of the romantic love stage, until they love each other instead of “being in love”.

Romance, in its purest form, seeks only one thing – passion. It is willing to sacrifice everything else – every duty, obligation, relationship, or commitment  – in order to have passion.

French Food Tasting

French Food

This evening I entered my friend Elisabeth Khan’s house and truly unwound from the family drama that had consumed much of my afternoon. My husband was supposed to join me, but when he saw the absence of other men, he quickly excused himself and said, “I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

I was left in the company of five wonderful women, sitting around a kitchen table filled with French salads, bread, and Paris à Vous food products. Paris à Vous is a new company that wraps up the romance, indulgence and tradition of France, and delivers it to U.S. consumers by way of authentic French packaged goods like cookies, mustards, oils and vinegars, and chocolate.

With French music in the background, we drank natural fruit syrups such as lemonade, mint, and grapefruit. We talked and laughed and tasted French bread with butter spread and cocoa sprinkles. For dessert, we were served a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries with a choice of yogurt or ice cream topping. Then various types of chocolate bars – my favorite being white chocolate with raspberry – were passed around.

In the end, we moved to the cozy living room and were served red wine and coffee, with solid chocolate to dip in the coffee, if one so desired. Given what we ate, I wondered if it is true that French women don’t get fat and hoped that I had somehow adopted those genes if even temporarily while sitting in a French woman’s home.

By the time my husband picked me up, my mind, heart and spirit were rejuvenated. Having been served so well, I was able to come home and serve my own family well.