Sunday, August 27, 2006

Do you have to have a body in order to be in love?

Scott's play has started me thinking. What role do our bodies have in this thing we call being "in love"?

In stake conference today, I heard quoted again that little research blurb about some chemicals in our brain that scientists say are the cause or effect of the feeling of being "in love" which supposedly decrease drastically or disappear altogether about 18 months after they appear. The point which people are trying to make when they quote this little tidbit in church is always something like, "So we'd better be working to replace that with something BETTER if we want our marriages to last," blah, blah, blah.

So I've been wondering what exactly is this "in love" thing, and what role it has in the eternal scheme of things. If I had no body (and therefore no chemistry), would I be incapable of falling in love? Were those two characters in Scott's play, who fell in love over the phone (these days people do it with e-mail), really in love, since they had never met? Or were they good friends who loved each other and happened to be of opposite sexes? Could it have been possible for them to have a similarly intense relationship with others? Is it possible to be in love with more than one person at a time? (Of course, it's possible to deeply love more than one person at a time.) Is being "in love" just a chemical thing? Is it a choosing to confine certain emotional intimacy to just one person? What is it that makes married love different than platonic love, other than hormones?

When I look at my own marriage, I don't come up with answers to these questions. One reason that I can't is that Roger is so much a part of me now that I can hardly even stand back far enough to see him. We are more like parts of the same person, which I think precludes a feeling of being "in love" because, at least as I remember it, that "in love" feeling had a lot to do with the fact that someone ELSE (the other) whom I thought was cool, thought I was cool too, and we were cool together, woo-hoo, flutter, flutter. (See "The Look," previous post.) And Roger is no longer someone else.

Second of all, I would not like to explore whether I could fall "in love" with anyone else while being "in love" with Roger. For obvious reasons.

We are taught to so very carefully school our thoughts and feelings so that we avoid even the first step on a path of infidelity. Good idea; I'm all for it. And yet-- and yet it's too bad, because there are all kinds of very intimate (which word I use, of course, in the non-physical sense) love which could probably be possible without messing up other loves in our lives. Maybe not, though. Maybe it really has a lot to do with funneling the bulk of our intimacy into one relationship. Better safe than sorry, anyway.

My biggest question of all, though, is why does God plant inside us whatever it is that makes that "in love" feeling? Is it all just the biological drive to perpetuate the species? What role will that exciting, romantic feeling play in the eternities (once it has been replaced with something "better")? This question is related to my other question about why we respond so deeply, achingly, yearningly to great art (especially music)--sometimes with stronger responses than anything we feel in real life.

I suspect it's a little taste of things to come. Somewhere in the scriptures it says that the righteous will come to a greater awareness of their enjoyment. I like to believe that the more godly we become, the more capable we become of deep and thrilling emotion. I think God gives us a little taste of it here, but doesn't let us live in it all the time (lest we be overpowered, maybe, or become addicted), but that he plans to let us swim in it all we want with our sanctified bodies. For now our job is to really work on charity as the basis of relationships.

Just a guess. Or a hope.

(Meanwhile, don't be thinking that I am anything less than thrilled with the "something better" going on in my life. I am extremely satisfied with my marriage. Personally, I don't think I would have the energy these days anyway for the rollercoaster that was "being in love" in my college days.)

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