Romantic love is a modern myth. It is a human invention. Love is the name we give to the inexorable urge two people feel to propagate the species, to defy death, to live on through their scion. Love and its alter-ego, sex, provide a gateway to the immortal. But this is an illusion. Your body will die. It is your spirit that is eternal. There is a reason that all necessary functions feel as good as they do. That we find eating, drinking, sleeping, even excreting enjoyable activities which provide pleasure ensures we do them regularly, in order to adequately maintain the body. By fulfilling our basic needs we prolong our individual lives for the ultimate pleasure, and the ultimate necessity, not of the individual but of the species: propagation. And culture has evolved specific strategies, not the least of which is matrimony, to ensure we stay together for the interest of the next generation. Though these strategies often fail.
But nature doesn't care whether lovers are together for a night or for an eternity. All that matters is that the products of said union grow up to reproduce themselves, which is achieved whether the child is born to a broken home or whether his parents remain harmoniously intertwined until death them parts, an increasingly infrequent phenomenon. And even two-parent homes can be broken as in dysfunctional. We seek what we lack in another person, whose strengths erase or at least compensate for our deficiencies; we become enamored of those whose inadequacies are strengthened by our own abilities. And how good it feels to be right. The child is the product of this love. The species continues. Evolution is at work.
A friend told me she never wanted to have kids until she met the man she would later marry. And after they were married she saw her maternal instinct awaken and gain such force as to become undeniable. The man in question had proved to be a good provider who made her feel secure and confident, and his strengths rounded out her own and bolstered her own weaknesses, as hers did his. In essence, they completed each other. His dark skin and hair complemented her fair complexion and blonde locks. A professional man, his education rounded out the lack of an education that her circumstances (at 17 her parents' divorce had forced her out of the classroom and into the working world) had caused. The disparity of six inches in height made dancing and hugging, not to mention coitus, comfortable and would ensure kids who were not too tall, nor too short. His hot body kept hers, with its tendency to catch cold, warm throughout the night.
And so our lovebirds had their children. Three of them, all boys. For decades they remained more or less harmoniously hitched - despite the man's black moods and flatulent temperament and the woman's extravagance driven by the belief that it was her spouse's business to earn money, and hers to spend it, which made him feel like a beast of burden. And the marriage ended once the boys were either of age or had died, more of the former, praise God. Their union was a force of nature. Society calls it love. Children are the force of nature, for their creation represents nature at work. This is not to downplay romantic union. It is necessary and none of us would be here without the sexual act. It is only to call it what it is. As with food. We eat because we are hungry, not because we are in love with carrots. But because we require the vitamins they provide. And we drink water not because we are infatuated with it; it is rather that water flows in our veins and is lost in our pores and breath and urine and so must be replenished. We sleep not because were are smitten with shut-eye but because only when unconscious can the body fulfill necessary housekeeping functions, without which we would go crazy and die. And we defecate...well, you get the idea. It feels heavenly to evacuate the bowels and constipation is one of life's cruelest punishments (imposed for lack of fiber or too much Vicodin, or both).
Buddha once said that had there been a stronger sense pleasure than sex he wouldn't have attained nirvana, that he'd have been too rooted in the senses to give attention to the spirit. And he was married with a child. It is well-established that sex drive wanes in a monogamous relationship. Imagine had Buddha discovered porn. I think one of the biggest tests of willpower in life is to forego the animal act, to avoid conceiving a child and the life of sweat and toil that raising a child entails. To do this not merely because you can't get laid or because you're in a same sex pairing where conception is an impossibility, but by choice. All too often the sexual act is so all-consuming, the union it provides so over-powering that circumspection, thought of the future, goes out the window. A stiff dick has no conscience. This is thinking with the little head not the big one. Yes, perpetuating the species is necessary, but with the earth's population swelling to a projected 10 billion souls by 2050 we clearly are enjoying too much of a good thing. Keep it in your pants, boys. Masturbate to porn. Practice celibacy. Even coitus interruptus, or the withdrawal/pull-out method can be used if you're not interested in wearing condoms.
Now birth control may be contrary to the teachings of the Church. But follow Christ, not the institution formed in his name. There is a good reason that the Old Testament gave way to the New. In Genesis the small group of people on earth were instructed to "be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." This message was modified in the Gospels, when Christ told his disciples: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." And: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Denying yourself does not mean churning out several mini-Mes in the form of children. It means loving all people as children of God. Christ himself was childless. His love was universal, self-less, all-embracing. A love that includes neighbor, friend and enemy, not just the person who makes your dinner and washes your underwear, is what really deserves to be called love. This love is unconditional, flowing as it does from the individual like breath or life-blood in the veins. This love is your very nature.
Forget the expensive ceremonies and the "I dos" and "I'm comings" and the bitter break-ups or at best the undercurrent of tension that often follows, when one or both parties says "we're through." Instead say yes to universal love. Work on yourself. Increase your capacity to love. Become more tender and sympathetic of others.
"What one human being can be to another is not a very great deal; in the end everyone stands alone; and the important thing is, who it is that stands alone." (Schopenhauer). The philosopher also said: "Let men recognize the snare that lies in women's beauty, and the absurd comedy of reproduction will end." I am still grateful for the female form. There is no greater work of art in all of nature. That's not objectifying; it's just plain truth. And I am grateful to our couple for calling the dictates of instinct "true love" and succumbing to it by giving birth to children. As the fruit of this union I otherwise wouldn't be around. And life on this swelling earth is swell. Most of the time.