THINK ON THESE: Love, courtship and marriage

It’s February, the month of lovers. Actually, it is called so because February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Valentine is the patron saint of love. According to some accounts, God worked through his life to perform miracles and teach people how to recognize and experience true love.

All great love stories begin with this inscrutable thing called love. So many people have defined love but until now no one can give a definite definition. It’s not something to be defined but to be felt.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote to his beloved: “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”

Juliette Drouet penned this letter to Victor Hugo: “I love you because I love you, because it would be impossible not to love you. I love you without question, without calculation, without reason, good or bad, faithfully, with all my heart and soul, and every faculty.”

Love just happens. It may be on a spur of a moment or it may take some time. But mostly, people experience love at first sight. “I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth,” said Judith Lewis, more popularly known by her pen name Cassandra Clare who wrote the bestselling series The Mortal Instruments. “But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.”

But there are those who don’t believe in love at first sight. American author Claudia Gray is one such person. “I meant it when I said I didn’t believe in love at first sight. It takes time to really, truly fall for someone. Yet I believe in a moment. A moment when you glimpse the truth within someone, and they glimpse the truth within you. In that moment, you don’t belong to yourself any longer, not completely. Part of you belongs to him; part of him belongs to you. After that, you can’t take it back, no matter how much you want to, no matter how hard you try.”

If there is spark between two persons, courtship may happen. “Courtship consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood,” Laurence Sterne contends.

“The pleasantest part of a man’s life is generally that which passes in courtship, provided his passion be sincere, and the party beloved kind with discretion,” Joseph Addison wrote. “Love, desire, hope, all the pleasing emotions of the soul, rise in the pursuit.”

British writer Vernon Lee (real name: Violet Paget) believed there is too little courtship in the world. “For courtship means a wish to stand well in the other person’s eyes, and what is more, a readiness to be pleased with the other’s ways; a sense on each side of having had the better of the bargain; an undercurrent of surprise and thankfulness at one’s good luck,” she said.

Here’s what the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos said about the subject: “I don’t believe in courtship. It’s a waste of time. If I love the person, I’ll tell her right away. But for you, I’ll make an exception. Just love me now, and I’ll court you forever.”

What comes next after courtship is a wedding proposal. “You healed pieces of me I didn’t know needed healing,” a man told his beloved. “You cared for me when I didn’t know I could use that extra love. You brought out the happiness in me I didn’t know existed. You’ve made me feel more alive than ever. Be mine forever.”

Another one: “I fell in love with you not knowing what love really was. I stayed in love with you because there’s no one or nothing I’ve ever wanted more than you. I will forever be in love with you because I can’t picture even a second of my life without you.”

If the woman says “yes,” then the inevitable marriage takes place. And the two becomes one. “There is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown through the years, from the small acorn of passion, into a great rooted tree,” said Vita Sackville-West.

What do men think of marriage? Sydney Smith said, “Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.”

Thorton Wilder shared this very insightful view. “I didn’t marry you because you were perfect,” he told his wife, “I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.”

Love, so goes a line of a song, comes from the most unexpected places. Hollywood actor Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana Barroso, have been married for nearly two decades. They met in 2003 at the bar where Barroso was working. Both instantly connected and tied the nuptial knot two years later.

Fernando Poe Jr., widely known as the King of Philippine Movies, and his wife Susan Roces, met when they both starred in a movie FPJ produced himself, “Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw.” They were married in December 1968. It was marriage made in heaven. Even after his death, Roces remained true to her husband.

F. Burton Howard said: “If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”

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