The question of why love is important can be answered by anyone of any age. From a young child to an enterprising woman in her 20s and even a divorced father in his 50s, the importance of love is known to people at every stage of life. In fact, they don’t even need to have love in their life to know how essential it truly is.
Something as wide and encompassing as ‘love’ means different things to different people. That initial rush when you see them walking toward you might be love for you. But the commitment, honesty, and effort sustained over a lifetime might be the definition of love for someone else.
We talk to Neeru Kanwar, one of the founding members of the Indian Association of Family Therapy, a psychotherapist and counselor for family issues such as couples’ conflict and parental difficulties, with an interest in childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and communal conflict. She dissects some of the cases she has dealt with to share some powerful insights around why love is important and how it shapes marriages that might even be on the brink of divorce. Despite friction and infidelity and breakdown in communication, most couples do want their marriages to work because there is a certain kind of love that still lingers there. Read an excerpt from her interview with Raksha Bharadia.
The Importance Of Love In Marriage
Falling in love is not just what you read about in the books or watch in the movies. It’s not necessarily unique grand gestures or outdoor proposals on romantic mountaintops. Some days, it’s just sipping a cup of tea in the backyard in utter silence. Other days, it’s washing the dishes together as the dogs run amok and that’s pretty much it for your Sunday afternoon plans. Sounds a little bit like love, sounds a little bit like marriage. Let’s see what our expert, Neeru Kanwar, has to say about the same.
Clients, who usually come to you with an extramarital affair, do they really want their marriage or original relationship to work?
Surprisingly, the concept of marriage still triumphs in the face of extramarital affairs. Infidelity is on the rise and as common as it is now, couples still do not want a divorce. It feels like such a loss overall or perhaps they just can’t face the reality of it. Children also do not want to go through that pain and parents are trying to be sensitive to that. But as far as possible, most couples want their marriage to be restored.
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Would you say love is impermanent whereas marriage is more permanent? And love is always over-hyped? What do you see love in marriage as?
Love in marriage or why love is important in marriage depends on one’s perception of it. I feel that love is just a state of being. One just feels that one is falling in love. It’s like a thrill, a novelty, suspense, an erotic or sexual feeling but it varies from person to person. To some, love means security and emotional safety. To others, love means passion and romance and poetry. Then there are those who see love as finding somebody whom they have been searching for throughout their lives.
What role does love play in a marriage? Is love necessary?
Think about it long and hard. Why do we need love in our lives? I think it is important to have those feelings when you get into a marriage because they motivate you to gravitate toward that person when you see mutual attraction signs. And if you are feeling intensely for a person and you feel that you are in love, then there is a strong need to form a relationship with them. But soon after a couple starts living together (not just in marriages but also in live-in relationships) that’s when the ideas of commitment and negotiation take over.
Especially in a marriage, when you have the in-laws telling you this and that and you have additional responsibilities. So always keep the door of communication and negotiation open rather than walking away, thinking that it is not working. One must keep hope and commitment alive, and that is why love is important.
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If one person has given up, walked away or has closed his or her mind to the possibility of the relationship working out, and is more interested in something else – may have found someone else or may have taken the spiritual path – they want to walk away and there is no coming back. In those situations, for me, the guiding fact is to see what will help the person’s well-being.
There was this case, in which the couple had known each other for quite many years before they got married but soon after marriage, there were so many stress points and even relationship deal breakers, including very active rejection from the family. This gets aggravated because you can’t completely sever ties with your parents.
Then some other communication problems started. And naturally, one partner is not likely to change at all. What makes it worse is that there is hardly any sex in the equation. In such cases, I’m quite okay with the fact that they should move away. But for some reason, they aren’t moving away from one another. They have decided not to have a child. And both of them have had extramarital flings. But I think it is partly related to the old association that they have been together for so long. Why is love so powerful? This was the answer to that.
Most couples come to me after one partner’s extramarital affair has been exposed. Most times, it is discovered through email or phone. At times, people come to me when they haven’t been caught cheating. They are stressed from leading a dual life, hiding, carrying on with two people, etc. And when they have such major conflict within themselves, they begin having panic attacks, sleeplessness, lack of concentration at work, and might even enter a state of depression after cheating on someone.
Very often I find myself making the point that right now you feel you are in love but give it another two years and you will go through similar stresses that you have gone through earlier – expectations, insecurity, etc. Whatever you have gone through with your partner, you will go through all that again with the new lover. It is only natural.
Related Reading: 7 Things You Should Know About Having A Discreet Affair
Do you think we need to redraw our understanding of marriages? Do you think we should make space for infidelity in a marriage?
It is realistic to assume that it might happen, but when one feels that one is in love, that is a very primal state of innocence that you are looking for – that state when one is trying to create that purest state of being; when we are like one soul, two bodies – that kind of experience, then you don’t bring this to your mind. You don’t think of it realistically.
I think education per se will not help. Books, movies, and stories can reinforce this concept, society starts changing, even then, at least I know, that there will definitely be pain when you feel that your partner who was exclusively there for you is interested in someone else. There will certainly be the pain of great disappointment and all that. But at least there will not be that kind of rage as an entitlement.
- Neeru Kanwar, in this interview, talks about how love sustains marriages, even the ones on the verge of collapse
- She says that love evolves and means different things for different people. Decide what kind of love you want in your marriage
- Infidelity is on a rise, and we need to accept that as a possibility in our relationship. Discuss if that’s a deal breaker for you
- Even though divorces are becoming more commonplace, couples don’t actually want the situation to come to that for the sake of family, children, companionship, and love
For some, love means physical intimacy while for some it means an emotional companion or a confidant. Love is different things to different people. And the understanding of why love is important in your marriage changes according to that.
To draw us to someone else and to help us in choosing a life partner, are the main reasons why love is important.
Love is quite a feeling. It gives one a sense of purpose and even accomplishment. You start to show somebody how much you care and you want to devote your whole life to them.
Endearment and care are extremely important in a relationship. But commitment also matters very much.
Yes. Why is love important in society? Because it not only makes life better, but it also makes people better.