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How Romanticism Ruins Marriages

 

How is Romanticism ruining marriages?  The reason is:

“Romanticism by its very essence and its very definition is made of illusions, of whims, of uncontrolled passions, and hypothetical affections for people who could exist only in dream worlds.”

In others words, because of Romanticism, people build their marriages on illusions. Soon, the romantic feelings that were the only “glue” of their marriages start to dissolve.

And many couples sit there and wonder:

“What went wrong?”

First, let us recall some of the kinds of “heroes” and “heroines” of romanticism.

There is the “sensitive” type of hero. He can be imagined as a youth (there is nothing less romantic than fifty years of age) with fine, clean features. His large melancholic eyes are lost in the empty horizon. His hair and clothes are disheveled. His chest heaves with burning aspirations, undefined, torturing, seeking the complete happiness of true love.

But no-one understands him. In the deep recesses of his soul are awesome horizons. There are indescribable desires that need, seek, and beg to be understood by a “sister soul". There must exist in the vastness of this world a being created to understand him. He is searching for her, for only in finding her will he have happiness... And so he wanders sadly through life until he meets her.

Then there is the romantic hero of the “terrible” type. He is morally identical to the previous type, though somewhat different in appearance. He exudes manliness, has an athletic physique, and a rather dark attractiveness, like a character from one of Wagner’s operas. He commands a great fortune, high social status, immense influence, everything, in short, that life can offer... But (and here is the “romance” of the scenario) there is a deep wound in his heart: a burning love, a tremendous disappointment, a weight as heavy and as cold as a tombstone, that will never find on the face of the earth a love that matches his heart’s desires.

Symmetrical to this is the figure of the “heroine". It would not be difficult to find a couple of typical examples.

Black and white photo. Young man in white-tie attire is on one knee before a young woman sitting on a chair in an old fashioned formal gown or wedding dress, with a long skirt fanned around her, large puffy sleeves, and a crown, with hair down. They are holding hands, and both are looking upwards with a dreamy expression. The first is the “delicate” type. She is charming, delicate of soul and body. Any pain and she begins to cry, any abrasion of her soul makes her suffer. Simple as a child, she carries in her heart an immense desire to dedicate herself to someone and to be wanted by someone. She needs to be protected because of her complete fragility, a fragility that is reflected in the meekness of her gaze, in the sweet inflections of her voice, in the refinement of her features, in the delicacy of her complexion.

The other example would be the heroine of the “grandiose” type. A dazzling beauty with the stature and bearing of a queen. She is the natural center of attention, esteem, and dedication. A dominating and fatal presence! But of course, deep in her heart is a hidden trembling, a profound sorrow, a great and hidden pain. It is the bitterness of a past disillusionment, the anxious and hopeless search for someone who truly understands her.

At her feet, poets, dukes, millionaires uselessly groan and plead. She is uninterested. With a gaze that is haughty, yet profound and very sad, she searches far and wide throughout her life for that which she will never find. And what is it that she seeks? It is the happiness of a great love, as she understands love, according to her most “noble” and tormenting aspirations. She carries all this in her heart like a secret and unending flow of blood.

The reader will perhaps smile. Doesn’t all this seem outdated? Could anyone who sees a young man or a young woman passing by in a cheerfully colored car, in this age of levity, recreation, and fitness, doubt that we are light-years away from romanticism? The young man is practical, strong, joyful, seems well set in life, and is full of the desire to succeed.

The young woman is also practical, independent, enterprising, and often avid for action. She is happy with life and wants to live it to the full. So what has she in common with the romantic heroine that moved our grandmothers to tears?

We agree that modern utilitarianism has created a climate of tolerance for marriages that are inspired by cynically financial motives. Nor do we deny that calculations based on careers and social standing influence marriages nowadays much more than before. But if the numerous examples of such marriages today lead us to conclude that this is the general rule, we would be greatly mistaken.

“Sentiment” remains very influential despite all the utilitarianism. And if we analyze this sentiment we will see that it is simply a very superficial up-dating of the old romantic themes.

In our democratic age, distinguished and exceptional characters are no longer acceptable. Today’s “hero”  is the popular guy, and the damsel is the “glamour girl". These popular guys and glamour girls are all exactly the same as so many others. The mechanization of modern life forces them to be less outstanding than the “heroes” of yesteryear, and with fewer of those endless wanderings of the mind.

All this somewhat restricts the effusions of imagination and sentimentality. But these restrictions notwithstanding, when it comes to matters of love it is always the same sugary sentimentalism, the same vague desires. It is the same misunderstandings, the same search for affinities, the same crises, the same desires for affectionate and unending happiness, and the same and chronic precariousness of all these “happinesses.”

To prove this we don’t need a psychological study of second-rate literary and film fare that abounds today and that truly forms the spirit of the masses. I think it sufficient that the reader have just a little bit of common sense to see how just our observations are. In fact, the great majority of marriages today that result from "falling in love" are based on ideas thoroughly imbued with romantic sentimentalism.

And this is the problem. We have some marriages based on mercenary self-interest and others on affection. And those that are based on affection are generally influenced by romanticism. This being so, the stability of a marriage will depend in large measure on how long self-interest or romanticism will enable the spouses to endure one another.

There is no reason to dwell on self-interest; I think it is clear enough. Let us concentrate instead on the influence of romanticism.

Above all, we need to emphasize that romanticism is essentially frivolous. It eagerly presupposes the greatest virtues in the “heroine” or the “hero", but in the final analysis these virtues count for very little in the survival of mutual affection. Sentimentalism is generally very forgiving of real moral defects, ingratitudes, injustices, and even outright betrayals. But it does not forgive trivialities!

So for example (and let’s take our examples from the flesh and blood of real life), it will be a ridiculous way of snoring at night, it will be bad breath, or it will be any other small human misery that can kill romantic sentiments without any right of appeal. Romantic sentiments which, it must be remembered, have turned a blind eye to the most grave reasons for complaint.

Now, daily life is a fabric woven of trifles. And there is no one who does not have some that are rather difficult to bear. Because of this it has already become commonplace to talk about the disillusionments that come after the honeymoon. “After this period", someone once told me, “my wife didn't deceive me, but filled me with disillusionment.”

Painting of Romeo and Juliet kissing on the balcony. Romanticism by its very essence and its very definition is made of illusions, of whims, of uncontrolled passions, and hypothetical affections for people who could exist only in dream worlds. Consequently, in a short time the feelings that were the only psychological basis of marital stability begin to dissolve.

Naturally, persons in this state do not go to the bottom of things. They do not understand how totally unattainable their desires were, and purely and simply assume that they made a mistake. They thus conclude that they can yet find in someone the happiness that this marriage did not give. Accustomed to living only and exclusively for their own happiness, accustomed to seeing happiness exclusively as the gratification of sentimental diversions, such persons will judge their life incurably ruined -- unless, of course, they are able to satisfy these illusions in another way.

Moreover, they will judge equally ruined the lives of all the many other people who fell into the same “mistake", so divorce will become as absolutely necessary as the air they breath.

What impression will a serious argumentation against divorce, reinforced by the cold language of statistics, possibly have on a person in this state of mind?

Accustomed to mental wanderings, but not to thinking, this person detests any form of argumentation, above all when it is serious. The mere language of numbers seems ridiculous to such a person. And to talk to this person of the sociology of marriage and love will seem to him about as shocking as speaking of the most technical aspects of botany to a poet who is entertaining himself by admiring the beauty of a flower.

Thus one can see that those who uphold the Church’s traditional teachings concerning the indissolubility of marriage would strike the wrong target by trying to use argumentation based on morality or on the common good with people who are only interested in their own individual happiness in a world of dreams and fantasy.

And here we approach the end.

In the final analysis, romanticism is sheer egoism.

The romantic does not seek anything but his own happiness. He can only think of love in the sense that the other is an instrument for his happiness. He desires this emotional happiness so much that if free rein is given to his sentiments, they will jump all barriers of morality, will ignore all considerations of the common good, and he will brutally satisfy his instincts. And nothing is built on egoism... especially the family.

It is necessary, therefore, to begin a tremendous anti-romantic offensive. It is necessary to explain the fundamental difference between Christian love (charity) and the romantic sentimentalism still in fashion. It is necessary to explain that Christian love is something imbued with the supernatural, full of common sense and balance; profoundly pious, authentic and generous. It triumphs over all wild wanderings of the imagination and the rebellious senses, and over the sensual, egotistical love of unrestrained passions.

It is false to imagine that true Christian spouses are the heroes of a romance who by a happy coincidence build an authentic marriage, according to Canon Law, as a preliminary step to the mere satisfaction of their passions.

As long as sentimentalist-romantic concepts influence the outlook of engaged couples, every marriage will be precarious, because it will be built on the soft, shifting, volcanic ground of human egoism.

It is commonly said that the family is the basis of society. But, as Saint Augustine teaches, there are two societies: the City of the Devil is built on the love of self to the exclusion of God; the City of God is built on the love of God and neighbor to the exclusion of self.

Marriages based on romantic sentiments and egoism are not the foundations of the City of God.

 


 

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 25, 2019

When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord all your pains,...

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August 25

 

When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord
all your pains, suffering, and your languor, and beseech Him
to unite them to those He bore for you.

St. Francis de Sales


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Louis IX of France

He built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beau...

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St. Louis IX of France

In Louis IX of France were united the qualities of a just and upright sovereign, a fearless warrior, and a saint. This crusader king was a living embodiment of the medieval noble: he lived for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of God.

Born on April 25, 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, Louis never forgot the piety of his upbringing as it had been instilled in him by his mother, Queen Blanche of Castille. At his coronation in Rheims at the age of twelve, Louis asked of God courage, light, and strength to use his authority well, to uphold the divine honor, defend the Church, and serve the good of his people. In May, 1234 the young King married Marguerite, the eldest daughter of the Count of Provence, who bore him eleven children.

Louis did all he could to promote and inspire of a Christian culture. He gave encouragement and aid to the religious orders and often assisted in settling and housing them. Deeply religious, he loved to listen to sermons, heard two Masses daily, and often joined in singing the Divine Office. But, although he sought the company of the wise and experienced among the clergy and other ranks, he did not hesitate to oppose its members when they proved unworthy.

Ambitious to make France foremost among Christian nations, Louis was overjoyed at the opportunity to acquire the Crown of Thorns and other holy relics from the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. He sent two Dominican friars to bring these sacred objects to France, and, attended by an impressive entourage, he met them at Sens upon their return. To house the relics, he built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in existence.

After recovering from a violent fever in 1244, Louis announced his long-cherished intention of undertaking a crusade to the East and set out from Paris on his first crusade on June 12, 1248. However, plagued with trouble after a seemingly promising start, Louis himself, weakened by dysentery, was taken prisoner in April, 1250, and his army routed.
After six years in captivity, he was released and returned to France to resume his sovereign role. He was involved intimately in the lives of his people. He had a passion for justice, and changed the "King's court" of his ancestors into a popular court, where, seated in his palace or under a spreading oak in the forest of Vincennes, he listened to any of his subjects who came with grievances and gave to them wise and impartial judgments.

In 1267, Louis once more determined to go on another crusade. His people objected, fearing they would lose their excellent and revered ruler, who, though only fifty-two years old, was worn with toil, illness, and austerities. Louis was determined though, and set sail on July 1, 1270, heading for Tunis. The crusade was a dismal failure. Dysentery and other diseases broke out among the crusaders, and Louis soon contracted the disease to which he succumbed on August 15. His bones and heart were taken back to France and kept enshrined in the abbey-church of St. Denis, until they were scattered at the time of the French Revolution.

He was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story abo...

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A Timely Response to Our Lady’s Request

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary, making a fifteen minute meditation and receiving Communion. Our Lady promised that she would “…assist them at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation.”   

The family, of good practicing Catholics, decided to take up the devotion. However, as it often happens when one sets out to do God’s will, all kinds of obstacles run into our path. On the Friday preceding the first Saturday they had a car accident. On the Saturday some were called to their jobs and some children fell ill. However, all still managed to fulfill Our Lady’s devotion requests, including the father.

Their resolution to do Our Lady’s request could not have been timelier. After completing the five month devotion, the father became extremely sick. Doctors found that he had cancer in an advanced stage and only had a few days to live.

The family asked their fellow parishioners for prayers and Masses in his intentions. Many family members began a round-the-clock vigil praying the rosary around his bed. For a whole week, those faithful prayer warriors continued to give him spiritual and psychological support with their generous vigil.

Click here for a FREE First Saturday Devotion Holy Card

Through all the suffering, the completion of the 5 First Saturday devotion was a continuous source of consolation to the father and family. “I will see you in heaven,” he reassured his children. Shortly before his death a priest gave him last rites and he peaceably surrendered his soul to the Lord.

By Godofredo Santos

 

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary,

 

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