November 26, 2008

I LOVE HIM FOR

I keep having these conversations with people, and then a few days later I read something in Atlas Shrugged and think, "Aw nuts, that's how I should've answered."

Right now I am at the part where Cherryl Taggart realizes that Jim isn't who she thought he was.

"Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?"
"What a cheap shopkeeper's attitude!"
She did not speak; she looked at him, her eyes stretched by a silent question."
"To be loved for!" he said, his voice grating with mockery and righteousness. "So you think that love is a matter of mathematics, of exchange, of weighing and measuring, like a pound of butter on a grocery counter? I don't want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself -- not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself -- not for my body or mind or words or works or actions."
"But then...what is yourself?"
"If you loved me, you wouldn't ask it."

Last week, I met a neighbor, one of those people who likes to psychoanalyze everyone. I made a joke in the group about how my husband has never been described as "nice," which is true: my husband has many wonderful qualities, but "nice" doesn't really suit him. The neighbor asked me what quality first drew me to my husband. I sat for a moment, deciding between his intellect and his integrity. As I thought on, I realized I ought to indicate his intellect, since his integrity is something that I have grown to see over the years and not necessarily something I knew right from the beginning.

The neighbor interrupted my thoughts, saying that I was taking too long, that a real answer would come from the gut and not require so much deliberation.

I said, "His intellect." The neighbor looked at me like that was a cheap thing to be loved for.

What I wish I'd answered, what I thought of later that night, is that my love for my husband doesn't come from my gut; it comes from my brain. I love him with my mind, not with my heart. A quick response to that question would be false, because the response has to come from my thought process.

My husband and I were in the same friend group for about six months before we began dating. I remember vividly at one point telling a mutual friend that I could see myself marrying someone like Mr. Grok. I was reminded of that today when I saw who Cherryl thought she was marrying. And I realized that the love that developed for my husband was similar to what Dagny feels for John Galt: she loved him even before she knew he existed. I loved my husband's qualities before I ever had any inkling he would become my husband. In fact, he had declined my suggestion that we date. Weeks later, he came to me with his mind and said that he had made a mistake and we should be together. We figuratively shook on it, and that was that.

Effectively, our love was transacted like a pound of butter on a grocery counter.

My husband earned my love. I too had to earn it from him, and it took him two weeks longer than I to weigh the merits of it. And the moments when I feel the most love for my husband, the moments when it feels like my heart is swelling, it is really my brain swelling. It happens when he has excelled at a task, when he has become frustrated with himself because he didn't live up to his potential, or when he has displayed his sharp wit or keen intellect.

I don't think my neighbor would've understood that.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:47 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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1 I totally get what you are saying here: I could have married my husband after knowing him for 2 days. I wasn't "in love" yet...but I knew that he was someone I could grow to love and get attached to. I already loved his character, because that was the character I was looking for in a man...now I just had to get attached to this person.

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at November 26, 2008 05:08 AM (irIko)

2 I decided to marry Deltasierra in 3rd grade. She was a) nice to me and b) pretty. She smiled a lot. Over time, I came up with some other good reasons, but I have never had cause to doubt the initial reaction. =) Sig

Posted by: Sig at November 26, 2008 07:36 AM (exefa)

3 "Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties." Jules Renard

Posted by: tim at November 26, 2008 10:01 AM (nno0f)

4 There seems to be a whole lot of Atlas Shrugged reading going on lately.

Posted by: Tom at November 26, 2008 10:18 AM (lgq5k)

5 I knew I would marry DH when I was 15, I even made the pronouncement... funny, smart, handsome, and unique perspective, that always made me see something different.. We were friends, but did not date romantically, until I was 19. I have asked him what his trepidation was, all of that time alone we spent, me WAITING for a kiss, or some indication of "boy lurves girl"... he answered..."I cared about you too much, I really respected you." Huh....??? Who knew 17 year old boys had sooo much restraint?

Posted by: AWTM at November 26, 2008 12:07 PM (3Q/t2)

6 I had a list of traits and qualities I wantted in a husband. I even told my mom I wouldn'y get married unless 'he' fit the bill. Then 'he' just happened to be in the same platoon during basic training. We met in March, started dating in July, engaged by October, married in January. He was just what I had knew I wanted.

Posted by: Jen at November 26, 2008 08:29 PM (59GjO)

7 I had two lists. The list of "must-haves" (honesty and integrity, intelligence, shared values, sense of humor, etc.), and the list of "deal-breakers" (smoking or other serious addictions, complacency/lack of ambition, anger management issues, dishonesty; those kinds of things). I met my husband online, and so I got to know his personality before I ever met him in person. By the time we met IRL, I knew that (as long as he hadn't lied to me) he had all the qualities I was looking for, as well as a few that I considered to be bonuses, and none of the problems that I had hoped to avoid. I knew before I met him that he was someone who (as long as he was honest) I could at least be great friends with, even if we had no chemistry. When I met him in person after talking to him for a month online, I was pleased to find out that he was exactly the same person I had gotten to know; he wasn't some "internet weirdo" who pretended to be someone else to pick up chicks. I had been pretty sure that he was for real, but it takes meeting a person face to face before you really know. I also found out that first date that I was definitely attracted to him, so more than friends was definitely an option. The things I love most about my husband: his intelligence, his eagerness to learn, his sense of humor, his cuddliness, his integrity, and his determination. He exemplifies these qualities daily in everything he does and thinks and says and believes.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 01, 2008 10:25 AM (jAos7)

8 Doesn't matter what you love him for, all that matters is you love him.

Posted by: bx19 at February 15, 2010 05:56 PM (bWGnc)

9 I sometimes wonder if I think too much, when it comes to love, not that I've had too many opportunies to give falling in love a try.  "Letting go" of the brain doesn't seem to be an option for me.  Does that make me a "pound of butter" kind of person?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 15, 2010 10:44 PM (vqKnu)

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