To Be Trapped in a “Loveless Marriage”

I know a woman who gave her husband four or five chances to renounce his adulterous ways. He could not, so she kicked him to the curb.

My great-grandfather had the same problem. He was fuzzy on the whole “marriage” thing so my great-grandmother sent him packing when my grandfather was six months old. Since this was 1930, she went to mass every day for the rest of her life to atone for her sin and never remarried.

So I understand that divorce is a thing that regrettably, happens, and that there can be good reasons for it happening.

But I don’t know what “being trapped in a loveless marriage” means, a phrase this dissenter of RS McCain’s deconstruction of Sudden Onset Lesbian Syndrome exemplifies the use of:

I know you’re confused with all these changes, but that’s what human freedom looks like. A lack of freedom would have been her staying in a loveless marriage, and bending her will to social norms.

Of course, the woman in question never actually said her marriage was loveless, merely that she discovered her new sexual identity, which grants and automatic get-out-of-marriage-free card. The rest of the commenters talk about the value of keeping one’s promises, and what is a marriage if not a promise?

Still, the notion of denying oneself the romantic and erotic fruit to which one has just “discovered” affinity seems like a hard pill to swallow. I get that. Because I’m married.

All marriages involve the binding of the will and the limitation of desire. That is the point of them. To marry is to say “You and no other, until one of us is dead.” That’s a promise, and a promise is binding by definition. It has no meaning otherwise.

Unfortunately people have a habit of marrying in the heights of an emotional connection and assume that such connection is an effortless norm. When the truth proves otherwise, they name their marriage “loveless”, because they think “love” means that powerful emotional connection. That’s not even close to what love is.

Love is taking a feeding from your exhausted wife because she’s bleary and tired and she’s had the kids all day, even though you’re also tired.

Love is supporting your husband spending his time in thus-far non-profitable writing projects because you know that he needs it.

Love is giving the other a break, taking care of the other’s needs, in lieu of looking out for number one.

Love is patience, kindness, and the host of other fine and essential things that St. Paul delineated in that oft-quote passage from 1 Corinthians that no one absorbs when they hear it at weddings. Love is doing for another, when you’d rather not, when you have a thousand other things to do, because the other needs it, and you have claimed the other’s needs as your own. A marriage that utterly lacks these thousand acts of goodness may fairly be termed “loveless”

Whereas discovering that things that sexually excite you more than your spouse? That’s just boredom. It happens. The comfort and security of marriage diminish the excitement. The manifold labors of building a life together exhaust the body. It doesn’t mean anything other than you need to take a moment to refresh the erotic charge. It doesn’t happen all on it’s own.

If a woman spends her wedding night trying to imagine that her husband is not male, then yes, she’s a lesbian living a lie, and the truth needs to come out, ASAP. But if a woman spends ten years or so contentedly sharing a man’s bed and then let’s a crew of Sisters (who clearly have no stake in the outcome whatsoever) convince her that she’s really part of Team Sappho, despite her years spent otherwise, then she’s just bored and looking for a new bed to jump into without bearing any responsibility for breaking her promise.

Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. But it’s no different from a forty-year-old man discovering that twenty-year-olds have perkier breasts and easier smiles than the woman who’s shared her best years with him. It just has the stamp of societal approval.

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