Amanda (of Britannia) came over last night and we got on the topic of love. Specifically “True Love” and “Soul Mates.” I have a complicated opinion on the topic of soul mates that provided good fodder for our conversation. Too soon we noticed it was midnight and had to say goodnight to our friend. As we were falling asleep I wondered aloud*:
I’m not sure how to reconcile the seemingly antithetical views I have on what makes a relationship work. On the one hand I believe that an awesome relationship demands that both partners periodically choose to remain in the relationship. On the other hand I know that it is essential to believe, with the completeness of your being, that your love is immutable. The latter, I believe, amounts to a sacred commitment to the relationship (spoken or not).
Somehow I’ve subscribed to both of these views simultaneously and non-exclusively for years, though clearly half of the possible ‘choices’ would defeat the immutability of love requirement.
Laying there in our cozy berth, the answer came so fast it surprised me. There is a paradox, but it’s soluble, but only if both partners subscribe.
In our case, both Victoria and I recognize that our love is conditional and therefore a choice. We also both believe that we have made a lifelong commitment to each other. The solution, as I see it, comes in the specific nature of that commitment.
If the commitment is to stay together no matter what, we have a chance of success (depending on how stubborn we are about it). But if our commitment is to strive to make the other continually choose to renew the relationship, then we have set up a paradox that will work for us. In practice it works like this:
I recognize that Victoria has an innate right to choose to be with me (or not). My commitment to her is to always be the man that she would choose to be with. If she reciprocates that commitment, we will naturally and effortlessly grow together.
I am always won over by simple, elegant solutions. That this solution also seems to encapsulate the selfless nature of true love clinches it for me.
* Victoria quickly pointed out that I didn’t say this exactly as quoted. I’m invoking creative license, as what I actually said probably didn’t make as much sense.