Tag Archives: love marriage

How We’ll (Have To) Manage Love In A World Of Brain Hacking

Picture the following scenario. If you’ve ever been to a fairy tale wedding or if you’ve been part of some big romantic ceremony, you won’t need much imagination. You’ll just need to have been sober at the time that moment played out. Even if you haven’t, it should still be easy to picture.

It’s a beautiful moment. Two people are standing at an altar together, proclaiming their love for each other in front of friends, family, and whatever deities they happen to prefer. It all goes so well. There are tears of joy, heartfelt gestures, and powerful moments that will last a lifetime.

That all happens in this scenario. It plays out. It’s every bit as beautiful as I just described, and then some. Hold onto that sentiment because now I’d like to complicate it, but not in the way you think.

I already painted a similar scenario when I talked about the possibility of hacking the human brain to induce love and ensure two people only ever love each other. This is someone similar, but one that factors in the bigger picture that tends to dilute all romantic moments. Again, it’s not quite as unsexy as you think, but it’s close.

Go back to that scenario. It’s still every bit as happy and sincere as any non-arranged, non-shotgun marriage could possibly be. Then, just before the chosen holy man declares two people spouses, a state-licensed lawyer enters the room. Yes, I understand that already seriously undermines the moment. Bear with me. It’s about to get weirder and less sexy.

The lawyer isn’t there to ruin the moment. He or she is actually there because the law requires him to be there. They have a very simple, but very necessary job. Before two people can be declared spouses, complete with all the tax benefits and insurance perks that come with it, the lawyer has to make sure that nobody’s brain was hacked to crate false, insincere feelings of love.

I’ll give everyone a moment to scoff, roll their eyes, or just stare blankly in confusion. I understand completely. What I just described sounds like something out of a Matrix-themed wedding that went horribly wrong. I wish I could say it was just another one of my not-so-sexy thought experiments. Unfortunately, this scenario reflects a serious issue that we may have to confront.

Think about what that lawyer had to do in that situation. Beyond the innate anxiety that comes along whenever a lawyer gets involved in a situation, especially if you’ve been skimping on your taxes, they’re tasked with the legal equivalent of making sure a Disney-style spell isn’t at work here. They have to, for the sake of the law and basic human dignity, that the love someone professes isn’t false.

Why would they even have to do that in the first place? Well, if you’ve been following along on this blog, you’ve noticed I’ve been talking a lot about the sincerity of love and how false perceptions may impact those powerful emotions. Even before that, I’ve talked about the prospect of enhancing the human brain and using those advances to make us sexier and more romantic.

These kinds of enhancements have so much potential to change the way we love, make love, and forge romantic commitments to one another. It may very well change the kinds of love stories we tell. For me, a guy trying to make his career in the erotica/romance industry, it’s kind of important that I follow these advances.

With every advance, however, comes various legal, ethical, and morally ambiguous headaches that quickly turn into migraines when you consider the implications. In that context, few advances have more implications than brain enhancement.

Considering how easy our brains are to fool, it makes sense to enhance this organ over all others. Yes, that means our genitals too, even though they’re already getting their share of enhancements. Every romantic and sexy feeling we’ve ever had or experience starts in our brain. Enhance that and everything we know about sex, love, and marriage goes out the window and into an incinerator.

A person with a brain implant is inherently capable of love, passion, and sex appeal that exceeds anything our natural biology can match. If you’d don’t believe me, then ask a woman about the efficiency of her vibrator compared to that of her lover. It’s not a fair comparison, to say the least.

Like any tool humans have ever made, we’ll use brain implants and brain enhancement to improve our lives. That includes are sex lives as well. There’s a reason why it’s a huge chunk of the pharmaceutical industry’s profits. That’s where the legal issues come into play, but not in the way you might think.

The second someone puts anything in their brain that resembles a computer, it inherently becomes subject to hacking. It’s an inescapable and often underreported pitfall of the digital age in which we all so eagerly partake. If it has a computer in it, then it can be hacked. Chances are, it has been hacked at one point, probably far more than you’d want to know.

That kind of hacking is hard enough to deal with. Once the computers go in our brains, though, then the stakes go up considerably. It’s one thing to hack a website and plaster it with gay porn or dead kittens. It’s quite another to hack someone’s brain and affect the way they think, feel, and behave.

I don’t doubt for a second that those behind the brain implant industry, such as Neuralink, will do everything they can to prevent this. I also don’t doubt that there will be other, less ethical individuals will work just as hard to frustrate those people. I’m sure Elon Musk has nightmares about the kind of horrors hackers will unleash with brain implants. It makes his desire to go to Mars almost seem logical.

As such, we’re going to need new laws on the books to govern the use and impact of brain implants. That tends to happen with every major advancement. From cars to computers, a civilized society needs some mechanism for governing new technology. With brain implants, though, that mechanism may get unusually personal.

Think back to that scenario I described earlier. Now, imagine one of the individuals getting married was that bitter ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend from high school. I’m talking about the kind of person who will set fire to a car and send dead animals in the mail to someone who refuses to reciprocate or affirm their emotions.

Imagine that kind of person knowing it was possible to induce false emotions in someone. Like the evil prince or witch in every Disney movie, they have a mechanism for casting a real, non-magical love spell on someone to make them feel exactly what they want them to feel. Unlike the world of Disney, though, it won’t be undone by kissing a toad.

Given the insane lengths to which people will go for love, it’s entirely plausible that someone would use a brain implant to create fake emotions in people who refuse to love them willingly. It’s also plausible that those same people will push that kind of brain hacking to insane degrees.

It means someone could effectively rewire their spouse’s brain so that they act as a slave. Their entire sense of identity, will, and autonomy is subverted. Their entire lives are effectively stolen and controlled by the hacker. While they would not realize this until their brain was un-hacked, assuming that was possible, it would be the most coercive, manipulative act it’s possible to do to another person.

Granted, there may be some societies that wouldn’t mind this sort of thing. I’m sure there are sociopathic dictators in the world who would love to hack the brain of every citizen into loving them without question. For most ordinary people who aren’t in charge of their own countries, though, it’s a terrifying thought.

That means it will probably be necessary for both industries like Neuralink and major governments to deal with this possibility. It’s hard to know what form that will take. Perhaps every brain implant will require some sort of kill-switch. Perhaps certain functions need to be sanctioned and re-sanctioned by a doctor or official.

It’s hard to say and I’m certainly not smart enough to figure it out. I imagine men like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have already given it way more thought than I ever will. Whatever form it takes, though, it will force us to change our understanding of love, sex, and how we relate to each other.

The stakes our high, but the situation is simple. If we’re going to love each other and make love to each other in enhanced ways, then we had damn well better be sure those feelings are ours and not those of some asshole hacker.

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On Love And Brain Hacking (And The Possible Future Of Monogamy)

Picture the moment, if you can, even if you’re a hopeless cynic. It’s your wedding day. The weather is perfect. Everyone in your family is present. You’re wearing the most overpriced clothes you’ve ever worn and you’re about to marry someone you love with all your heart.

Whether you’re a man or woman, you’ve probably contemplated that moment. It’s one of those beautiful moments that the entire wedding industry is built on. You’re standing at the altar in front of friends, family, and whatever deity you want involved. You’ve found the love of your life. You believe, with your heart, brain, and genitals, that this is the only one for you.

I’m not denying the beauty of that moment. I’ve been to my share of weddings. It’s a special moment for a great many people. Even I’ll admit I’ve gotten choked up at those moments. It’s the culmination of a journey, one that plays out both in real life and in sexy novels. Two people find each other, fall in love, and commit to one another. It’s seen as the pinnacle of romance and the ultimate ideal of love.

It’s also, and I say this as a fan of love, an ideal that tends to fall apart once that moment has passed. Statistics about divorce and the frequency of sordid affairs is proof enough of that. There are a select few who manage to avoid these odds and hold onto that moment. It’s couples like that who inspire romantics like myself to try to capture that in sexy stories. It’s the fact they’re so rare, though, that makes those moments so frustrating.

For once, there’s no elaborate science or hidden secret to this phenomenon. Most people understand on some levels that those feelings we have on our wedding days when we believe with all our hearts that we’ve found the love of our lives are a gamble. At worst, though, they may be fleeting and we all know why.

No matter how certain or passionate you might be about your lover, there’s always an unavoidable uncertainty that goes along with that feeling. On that particular day day, you may know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love your spouse with all your heart and they love you back. It’s the many days after that are the problem.

Maybe on the very next day, you cross paths with someone else who evokes even more intense passions than your spouse. It doesn’t matter if they’re a bartender, a stripper, or a sexy ski instructor. You have no idea what kind of passions you’ll feel until you meet them.

The same goes for your spouse. Maybe on the morning after your wedding, they go out for a walk and just bump into someone that they fall in love with on the spot. In an instant that you never could’ve predicted or prevented, that ideal love you thought they had for you is either dented or shattered.

It’s a painful, but sobering thought. You really can’t control who you and your lover will meet, nor can you control how either of you will react. You can barely trust your own emotions, at times. It’s even harder to trust with certainty that someone else’s emotions will remain in line with yours.

It leads to all sorts of heartache, from bitter divorce to Taylor Swift songs. It incurs the kind of personal pain that can shatter hearts, souls, genitals, and everything that goes with it. No matter what we do, even when we resort to open relationships, it never seems to stop. We want that ideal moment at our weddings, but we can’t avoid the potential soul-crushing heartbreak it may lead to down the line.

Now, I’m sure all those reading this, regardless of whether you’re married, single, or living in a hippie commune where orgies happen every Sunday, are feeling a bit conflicted. Don’t worry. That’s normal. It’s that conflict between wanting to find love and risking soul-crushing heartbreak that’s at the heart of every great romance. However, I’d like to complicate it even more.

Go back to that special moment on your wedding day. What if, before you and your spouse walked down the isle, you had another little ceremony of sorts? In that ceremony, you each took a moment to reprogram your erratic, caveman brains to ensure that the heightened passions of this day never fade.

It goes way beyond just signing legal documents that say you can file joint tax returns. Now, your brains are wired in a way so that no matter what happens in the future, you’ll always love each other, want to make love to each other, and stay committed to each other until the day you die. The passion will always be strong, the sex will always be great, and no amount of sexy ski instructors will ever change that.

It won’t change because it can’t. No matter what you, your spouse, or any sexy pool cleaning guy/house maid does, they cannot get your brain to react with the same passionate upheaval that comes with love and lust. They might as well be trying to teach calculus to a drunk monkey. You and your spouse love each other that much.

Sure, that love involves manipulating your brain, twisting your emotions, and effectively brainwashing yourself into feeling a certain way. It opens the possibility that some of that passion you feel for your spouse may not be entirely natural. It would be real, but it would be forced to some degree. From your perspective, though, it still wouldn’t matter. You would still feel it as though it were real, unfiltered love.

If you had that option on your wedding day, would you take it? Would you be willing to manipulate your own brain so that you never had to experience divorce, heartache, or uncertainty ever again? It seems like an extreme, like the ultimate prenuptial agreement, but with far more at stake than who gets custody of the dog.

It’s also not entirely a hypothetical scenario, either. It’s also not a coincidence that I’m writing this after my long rant about the mixed romantic messages of prenuptial agreements.

One of the reasons people tend to avoid those legally critical agreements is because they’re so high on love that they don’t think it’s necessary. They’re clinging to that moment on their wedding day, not even acknowledging the possibility that their marriage could end and their love could fade. Statistically and biologically speaking, it’s fairly certain that passions will fade and marriages do end.

So rather than getting lawyers and legal documents involved, why not cut to the core of the issue and adjust your brain? It is, after all, the primary reason why your passions fade and you feel the inclination to cheat. Your genitals may be an accomplice, but your brain is always the mastermind. Not changing it on your wedding day is like Batman letting the Joker get away and giving him an unlimited supply of napalm.

I know I make it sound simple, tweaking the wiring of our brains. I understand that’s not possible right now, which is why divorce lawyers, mistresses, and gigolos won’t be going out of business anytime soon. However, there’s another business that just started up and it may both undermine those age-old industries while completely changing our approach to romance.

Remember Neuralink? I wrote multiple posts about it, saying it’s the most important business enterprise in the history of humanity and may very well make us all inherently sexier and more romantic. Well, the mere fact that we’re starting to put things in our brains to tweak how it works marks the first step in changing how we approach love, marriage, sex, and relationships. Divorce lawyers should be very scared.

Think back to the uncertainty about you and your lover’s passions that I mentioned earlier. Right now, we have no way to control them. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to love some random person we bump into. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to have meaningless sex with that cute bartender who keeps undressing us with their perfect, baby blue eyes.

However, the mere act of wanting something starts in the brain. The desire to seek variety, both in terms of chewing gum and lovers, is hardwired into our brains and it has no off switch. With the aid of a targeted brain implant, we can effectively install one.

That means that no matter how sexy or seductive that bartender is, we won’t feel the urge to have sex with them in the nearest utility closet. We won’t even feel the slightest bit of attraction to them. We literally cannot feel or think about such things. Our brains would reserve all our passions and horiness for one person.

On paper, it’s perfect monogamy. Sure, it’s somewhat forced. Sure, the fact we need a brain implant would be tangible proof about just how uncertain we are about our ability to keep our hearts and genitals in check. Would that really matter, though? The passions the two lovers feel would still be every bit as powerful. From their perspective, the presence or absence of a brain implant makes no difference.

It’s distressing on some levels, but intriguing on others. We all seek love. We all cherish whatever love we find. Why shouldn’t we do everything we can to preserve it? Until now, we’ve always been at the mercy of our caveman brains and the erratic genitals that aid them. Once we learn how to effectively rewire our brains, we can get around that issue. However, would that still be genuine love?

Some would argue, and I would agree to some extent, genuine love needs to come through struggle. Just hacking your brain to ensure you never love anyone else is like using a cheat code in a video game. Sure, you still beat the game, but you still cheated. You can’t say you accomplished more than someone who beat the game without cheat codes.

It’s more a paradox than a thought experiment, but one we’ll have to deal with at some point. As I’ve said before, we need to upgrade our brains in order to survive in the long run. We, as a species, cannot survive if we keep killing each other over rival gods, skin color, and who has the best college mascot. We’ll only overcome those nasty inclinations once we purge them from our brains.

Once we change our brains, though, we inherently change how we love each other and how we express that love. By default, we’ll also change how we have sex with each other and be intimate with each other. The extent of that change, as well as how we’ll deal with it, is impossible to know right now. Like love itself, we probably won’t know it until we feel it for ourselves.

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Filed under Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships, Sexy Future

Do Prenups Help (Or Hurt) Marriages?

Whenever we hedge our bets on something, be it a major life decision or a poker game, it’s often a tacit admission that we may fail and more often than not, that’s the first step towards failure. Being careful or proactive doesn’t give the impression that you’re all that confident. A lack of confidence is also not very sexy either so some people may not be inclined to be that careful.

Granted, there are some bets we don’t mind hedging on. Why else would we buy insurance or demand that our heart surgeons be licensed? It doesn’t matter how confident you might be. There’s nothing sexy about getting heart surgery from the medical equivalent of a drunk plumber.

We, as a society, are somewhat erratic about the things we should and shouldn’t hedge our bets on. There’s a constant push and pull between being proactive and being bold. We want to sound confident, but we also don’t want to risk crashing a drag racer into a hill just to get laid.

With that in mind, here’s a simple questions that we’ve all probably asked ourselves, albeit indirectly. Just how proactive should we be when it comes to our love lives? I’m not talking about avoiding parents or wearing condoms either. Specifically, I’m talking about marriage and how we approach it. Even more specifically, I’m talking about prenuptial agreements.

It’s somewhat telling that most people don’t know much about these fairly mundane, legally-binding contracts that have been around for decades. They’re not complex financial laws or esoteric provisions of the tax code. A prenup is a simple, legal way to ensure that if a marriage fails, the hard, heartbreaking work is already done.

According to FindLaw.com, the simplest purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to “establish the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce.” If children are involved, it can resolve that too. Again, it’s like doing the hardest work ahead of time, just in case it becomes necessary. In terms of being proactive with your love life, it’s both prudent and practical.

It also has an unspoken, but distinct stigma to it and for entirely understandable reasons. The mere act of considering a prenup for your marriage implies that you think it’s possible it may fail. When you’re young, in love, and still having great sex, who wants to think that? Hell, if your lover even joked about it, what would that reveal about your relationship?

It’s a distressing thought. That’s why prenups are usually associated with rich people and famous celebrities. In fact, the provisions of some of these prenups seem downright insane to non-famous, non-eccentric people. That may be why prenups have a somewhat mixed reputations.

However, celebrities and the super rich have a lot more to lose than their hearts in a marriage. It’s understandable that they’d be more proactive than most. Unfortunately, it also means that celebrities are more than twice as likely to divorce. That may be another part of why prenups have a bad reputation. They’re loosely correlated with more divorce.

That brings me back to the title of this article and the obvious question that too few people ask. Do prenuptial agreements help a marriage or are they detrimental in the long run? Based on what I’ve just explained about the mentality behind prenups, the answer would seem obvious. That’s just it, though. We really don’t know.

At the moment, we’re still clinging to the mentality that if you want a prenup, then you’re setting your marriage up for failure. That’s a dangerous, not to mention short-sighted understanding of marriage and relationships. While there is some research to hint that having a prenup doesn’t increase your chances of divorce, there’s very little information on what this means for the health of a relationship, as a whole.

At the same time, we constantly hear the whining from the family values crowd about the declining rates of marriage. It’s not at all unfounded, either. Fewer and fewer people are getting married, especially among younger people. There are many potential reasons for this, but there’s one in particular that I want to focus on, as it relates to prenups.

I’ve talked about it before, albeit in part. This time, I want to be a bit more blunt. To all those worried about declining marriage rates, increasing divorce rates, and young people humping without consequence, I have an important message that needs to be belabored.

If you’re a man, marriage for is a TERRIBLE deal.

I know it sounds like I’m just echoing timeless words of Al Bundy, but bear with me. In order to show just how bad a deal marriage is for men, allow me to paint a scenario. It’s not a thought experiment because this is, for all intents in purposes, how it plays out in the real world.

You and your lawyer are sitting across the table from a potential partner and their lawyer. Their lawyer presents you a partnership contract. In that contract, it says that you are to only ever conduct personal business with them until the day you die. If, however, the other party decides to dissolve the contract at any time and for any reason, then they get half of your assets, by default. If you happen have any children, the partner very likely take sole custody of them, as well. Would you sign that contract?

Most people, if they looked at the fine print in that scenario, wouldn’t sign that contract, even on a dare or while drunk. It’s a horribly unequal contract. It effectively asks the man to go against his own interests. It also gives the woman a distressing amount of incentive to end the marriage. When there’s a financial incentive to do anything, it usually skews the odds. Marriage is no different.

This scenario also reflects the impact that “no-fault divorce” has had on marriage in recent decades. That’s a fairly recent development, as well. Instead of needing a reason to dissolve a marriage, it can be done on a whim and the man, who may not have even done anything wrong, gets screwed over. In that context, the decline in marriage is entirely understandable.

It should also explain why men are so reluctant to get married in the first place these days. The incentives aren’t just awful. It creates a legally-binding inequality within a relationship. In both marriage and divorce, the woman has the benefit when it comes to custody of children and alimony payments. Even so, a man who is reluctant to marry is seen as someone who doesn’t love his significant other as much as he should.

This brings me back to prenuptial agreements. As it stands, only five percent of divorces occur in couples who had a prenup and only three percent of couples planning to get married have a prenup. While the number of marriages that have prenups are increasing, it’s still not that common and there’s still a stigma to it.

So what would happen if every marriage from here on out required a prenuptial agreement? Moreover, what would happen if the structure of the marriage made the responsibilities between the man and the woman equal? It’s an honest, sincere question because, as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m all for love. I’m all for marriage. I too would like to get married one day.

However, marriage in its current state doesn’t just scare me. It seems downright unsexy. It almost seems to take advantage of men who are so hopelessly in love that they don’t think about what will happen if something goes wrong . Granted, no man wants to think about that, especially when they’re in love, but it can cause a lot of pain and heartache down the line.

I’m not saying prenuptial agreements will fix the current state of marriage or gender dynamics between men and women. However, I do think that we’re straining our ability to love each other when our relationships are so inherently unequal. I’ve championed love between equals in the past. I think that’s the kind of love that will improve our love lives, our sexy lives, and our marriages in the future.

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Filed under Marriage and Relationships

Quality Marriage Advice (From Bill Murray)

In general, you should never take advice from celebrities. That’s not to say that all celebrities are stupid, although some are way dumber than anyone famous should ever be. The problem is that most celebrities are so detached from reality that their ability to understand and relate to 98 percent of the human population is hopelessly destroyed.

Then, there’s Bill Murray, also known to the internet as Bill fucking Murray. To say he’s a unique character would be like saying porn stars are somewhat lacking in modesty. He’s a Hollywood legend and for good reason.

He’s been making movies and starring in TV shows for 40 years. He famously doesn’t have an agent. He doesn’t demand the celebrity treatment wherever he goes. He’s also been known to wander into random places, including karaoke bars and the goddamn White House.

There’s no question. Bill Murray is a character unto himself. So when he gives advice, it’s worth listening to. While there are all sorts of crazy stories about his antics, one in particular stands out, especially for an aspiring erotica/romance writer.

It’s a somewhat famous story involving a bachelor party that he randomly wandered into. It happened back in 2014 in Charleston, South Carolina. The circumstances are somewhat unclear, as is often the case whenever Bill Murray wanders into a scene. However, at some point in the process, he gives the groom, his friends, and everyone everywhere who thinks about getting married some timeless advice.

“If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t do… don’t just sort of think in your ordinary mind, ‘Okay, let’s make a date. Let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”

Excuse me while I wipe away some tears of joy, astonishment, and wisdom from my eyes. Take a moment to think about what this former Ghostbuster and weatherman is saying. It’s not just revealing. It’s downright profound.

When most people fall in love, the natural inclination is to try and make everything easier. When we’re in love, we tend to do anything and everything to facilitate that love so it can blossom. I’ve certainly done that in my own relationships. I’ve seen friends and close family do the same. It makes sense. You find someone to love and you try to make it easy for both of you.

Bill Murray, on the other hand, is saying to do the opposite and weirdly enough, it makes even more sense. He’s telling us to not make things easier. He encourages us to make things harder and to put ourselves and our lovers in new, stressful situations. By traveling beyond the places we can control, you and your lover are going to see each other at their worst and least pleasant.

fucking bill murray 11 Bill F$%^ing Murray (24 Photos)

Therein lies the key, though. It’s something only a man of Bill Murray’s experience, persona, and wisdom could possibly uncover. When you’re in love with someone, it’s easy to make it work when you go out of your way to avoid new, stressful situations. The real challenge comes when things are difficult. That’s when you find out who you and your lover truly are.

By putting yourself in those stressful situations, be it travel or new experiences, you find out just how well you work together. If you only work when things are good, then that’s a problem because things aren’t always going to be good. That’s just not the nature of life in general.

If, however, you and your lover can make it through all those difficulties and still want to marry each other, then that’s as clear a sign as you’ll ever get. You and that person love each other. Your love is the strong, special kind that I seek to capture in my novels. You don’t need a fancy wedding or an elaborate honeymoon to vindicate your love. Just get married at the airport. Your love has already proven itself.

fucking bill murray 5 Bill F$%^ing Murray (24 Photos)

Say what you want about celebrities and the terrible influence they have on our culture. There are still a select few that make our world and our love lives inherently richer. Bill Murray is definitely among those select few.

So to all those in love, or just those who enjoy writing about it, please heed the advice of Hollywood’s most unusual characters. Being in love and knowing whether that love is real can be hard. However, when you’re have the wisdom of Bill Murray guiding you, our hearts and our funny bones are inherently stronger.

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Should We Marry For Love? Wait What?!?!

Should we really marry the person we love? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s not the beginning of some elaborate joke or rant either. It’s an actual, honest question that we, as a society, stopped asking very recently in the grand scheme of things.

As an erotica/romance writer, these kinds of questions are pretty darn relevant. The way people see love, marriage, sex, and everything in between shapes the novels I write. I’ve written several books thus far, but I’ve never really dealt with this question directly. Given the rate at which the concepts of marriage and love are changing, this question is pretty important.

So why is it relevant to begin with? Why should this be a controversial issue? Well, contrary to what registered republicans and the church would have us believe, the modern concept of traditional marriage isn’t that traditional.

In fact, for most of human history, marrying for love was the exception and not the norm. For some people, the very idea of marrying for love was an affront to marriage itself. There’s even an old Egyptian proverb that says:

“One who marries for love alone will have bad days, but good nights.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Up until very recently, and by recently I mean the 17th century in Europe, people didn’t marry for love. They married because it was just part of how old, pre-industrial societies worked. From Europe to China, most marriages were arranged by families. Sometimes, the bride and groom didn’t even meet each other until their wedding day.

This was because marriage was not seen as a romantic gesture. It was seen as a cooperative partnership, of sorts, between families. You didn’t marry your spouse as much as you married into their family. It was how pre-modern societies ensured a proper exchange of property, bloodlines, and procreation.

That’s not to say love was completely absent. Ideally, the hope was that a couple would marry first and then fall in love. It may seem backwards today, but that was the ideal espoused in the past.

Why was this? Why was love divorced from marriage, if that’s not too loaded a term? Well, there is a social and political reason for that, one that a brilliant woman named Stephanie Coontz articulates far better than I ever could. She explains:

In some cultures and times, true love was actually thought to be incompatible with marriage. Plato believed love was a wonderful emotion that led men to behave honorably. But the Greek philosopher was referring not to the love of women, “such as the meaner men feel,” but to the love of one man for another.

Other societies considered it good if love developed after marriage or thought love should be factored in along with the more serious considerations involved in choosing a mate. But even when past societies did welcome or encourage married love, they kept it on a short leash. Couples were not to put their feelings for each other above more important commitments, such as their ties to parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, or God.

In ancient India, falling in love before marriage was seen as a disruptive, almost antisocial act. The Greeks thought lovesickness was a type of insanity, a view that was adopted by medieval commentators in Europe. In the Middle Ages the French defined love as a “derangement of the mind” that could be cured by sexual intercourse, either with the loved one or with a different partner.4 This cure assumed, as Oscar Wilde once put it, that the quickest way to conquer yearning and temptation was to yield immediately and move on to more important matters.

In China, excessive love between husband and wife was seen as a threat to the solidarity of the extended family. Parents could force a son to divorce his wife if her behavior or work habits didn’t please them, whether or not he loved her. They could also require him take a concubine if his wife did not produce a son. If a son’s romantic attachment to his wife rivaled his parents’ claims on the couple’s time and labor, the parents might even send her back to her parents. In the Chinese language the term love did not traditionally apply to feelings between husband and wife. It was used to describe an illicit, socially disapproved relationship. In the 1920s a group of intellectuals invented a new word for love between spouses because they thought such a radical new idea required its own special label.

In Europe, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, adultery became idealized as the highest form of love among the aristocracy. According to the Countess of Champagne, it was impossible for true love to “exert its powers between two people who are married to each other.”

In twelfth-century France, Andreas Capellanus, chaplain to Countess Marie of Troyes, wrote a treatise on the principles of courtly love. The first rule was that “marriage is no real excuse for not loving.” But he meant loving someone outside the marriage. As late as the eighteenth century the French essayist Montaigne wrote that any man who was in love with his wife was a man so dull that no one else could love him.

It sounds as unromantic as it does unsexy, the idea that love is actually a liability in marriage, so much so that people in the past were shunned for loving their spouses too much. However, there is a context to consider.

These are pre-modern, pre-industrial, mostly-agrarian cultures where infant mortality is high, maternal mortality is high, and plagues are exceedingly common. Love, as anyone whoever listened to a Beatles song, is a very fickle emotion. It cannot be channeled, controlled, or changed. Some have tried, but most efforts fail. Just ask anyone who endured conversion therapy.

That kind of chaos just doesn’t fit in a society that is only one bad harvest or one nasty plague away from total collapse. These societies need to exert some level of social control in order to function.

Societies still change. Civilization, as we know it, changes with it. We no longer live in a society where such social control is necessary, but there are still plenty of societies all over the world where arranged, loveless marriages are common. Some will even claim that such marriages are better than love marriages.

It may sound ridiculous to the freedom-loving west, but think about it. Why go through the trouble of finding a spouse when your parents can just do it for you? Besides, who knows you better than your parents? Wouldn’t that save everyone a lot of time, energy, and heartbreak?

That last part wasn’t entirely sarcasm, but that’s the logic behind arranged marriages. The fact it’s still so prevalent all over the world indicates the logic isn’t entirely flawed. It also acknowledges that there are some fundamental issues with marrying for love.

As many writers far more accomplished than me have said, love is a very fickle emotion. It changes on a whim more than it lingers. You could love someone for 30 years and one day find someone else you love even more. It happens. That’s what love can do. That’s why it’s so scary/amazing/powerful.

There’s no doubt that marriage, as an institution, is destined to change even more than it already has. Every church, mosque, and synagogue may fight it. Every social conservative may oppose it. That still won’t stop it. The institution will keep changing, probably in ways that nobody, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer, can predict.

This brings me back to my original question. Should we marry for love? Should marriage even be connected to love? It’s as serious a question as anyone can ask, regardless of time period or generation. It’s also a question that we, as a society, will have to answer at some point in our lives. Let’s hope we answer it right.

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