Watching a 60 year old couple dancing happily or holding hands after many years of marriage is the most conforting thing.
I was watching my great aunts’ favorite tv show and there was this couple who had met 47 years ago at a ball and there they were, on a prime time tv show for retired people, performing together while looking into each others eyes. Normally this could be considered an example for all of us who struggle to just keep the same pace when the song starts.
This couple was nothing like that, they seemed to really enjoy each other and that is more than most couples can say nowadays.
Many couples stick together for the sake of their kids or for their own well being. They base their marriage on patience, mutual respect and understanding that their union, once sealed, must be preserved in spite of their own needs or feelings of boredom and apathy towards one another. They justify their marriage on religious or moral beliefs, whatever works. They enter the universe of marriage after love (by love here I mean infatuation). They find happiness on watching their project (family) grow in a safe environment. Because the truth is that family as a whole does better when the family sticks together pushing and pulling in the same direction.
Perhaps there are couples who are able to put all of this together while keeping the flame alive, those are the really blessed ones. But the large majority settle for the comfort of having someone else calling the same place home. To pick up the mail, to collect the kids, to help pay the bills, to look after the dog, to have lunch on Sundays when the kids are gone, to be better off, to go to dinner parties with other couples who are on the same boat, in short, to grow old more comfortably in a more bourgeois setting. Because there is something worse than being alone and that is to be alone and not have enough to make ends meet, and there is something worse than to grow old and that is to grow old alone.
So is marriage after love a matter of convenience or an act of love by itself?
In many cases we could say both. All human beings are looking for happiness and in many instances, that means personal satisfaction and convenience as well. Convenience sometimes means staying in an otherwise dead end marriage, they experience (as Charles Dickens calls it) the clash between the individual and society. They go with society, so that a mutual project can unfold, children can have the bigger house or take that family trip, to make sure that they go to a good university when they graduate high school and still have a place to call home.
If you are unable to settle for that conventional lifestyle or you don’t feel like doing the family/couple thing because you are more of an individual, or if circumstances force you to live your life differently, do not panic, you can be just as content, if not more.