by Agnes a Paris
Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 03:28:36 PM EST
Update [2006-1-30 15:36:34 by AgnesaParis]:
Churches are so empty that even God would feel lonely if He popped in. Those faithful no longer look up to the clergy to get inspiration and speaking in the name of God sounds awfully suspicious these days.
The Church has lost ground as an institution. It takes an old man passing away to bring it to the fore front, and that old man is mourned as the one who stood up to a totalitarian regime for his fellow citizens to be able, just like him, to travel abroad and come back to kiss their native soil. A man who fulfilled his duty to exhaustion, triggering equal respect among the atheists and the believers.
Political institutions are not that popular either. We might even be seeing people claim the right not to vote.
Yet there is one force bringing people into God's house at least once in their life, and relying on a representative of a secular institution to issue a statement they accept as binding.
This force is the ultimate ideal, the only left when all ideals created by mankind to forego the fear to die have collapsed.
This ideal concentrates all the need to believe that used to rest with other ideals. The restless quest for this ideal is our modern Graal ; there is no hope left if we leave it behind us.
Without that force, men are wolves for each other. They can also be wolves for each other for conqueer it.
Love is a two edged sword. Never has it been invested with so many expectations. The age expectancy grew, and so did the divorce rate. A couple proudly claiming to have spent half a century together embodies the ultimate accomplishment.
Marriage used to be a "serious" matter that could only be safely handled by the parents, and the young couple eventually came to find an arrangement to live side by side without bothering each other. What mattered was to keep the social structure unaltered. As long as appearances were safe, what took place behind the scenes was no offense. No matter how many mistresses your husband has, as long as you get your monthly allowance for your dress designer, hairdresser, jewelers and all the occupations necessary to keep a decent woman busy.
That seems to have changed. One cannot accept compromise and secrecy when the Graal is at stake. The boundaries of infidelity have become uncertain.
Even the old safe rule according to which a husband has to right to occasionally go astray as long as his feelings for his spouse remain altered, whilst she does no harm as long as she does not get physically committed, no longer seems to be universally accepted.
Marriage has not the monopoly of infidelity, as it no longer has the monopoly of love. The pain of splitting up is compounded when money is at stake and the man far too often ends up a sitting duck.
I may be wrong, but I don't think infidelity is less of a wound when one is married. The way the couple deals with the consequences is influenced by having children and wealth in common.
Infidelity stands as the ultimate obstacle on the quest for the Graal. But where does it stand exactly?
When one starts fantasizing about someone else? Seeing that someone without their partner's knowledge?
Engaging in sexual intercourse without emotional implications? Refraining from any physical contact but being madly in love ?
The key word to come up with an answer may be: ability not to share the burden of grief.
I was deeply impressed by an 18th century novel written by Mme de la Fayette "The princess of Cleves".
The princess of Cleves is married to a man she is fond of, but in love with someone else. As she cannot find the inner strength to resist temptation, she begs her husband for support by disclosing her feelings.
The result is appalling : grief drives her husband to death, guilt drives her to convent, and 3 unhappy people result from her not being able to bear the weight of her guilt.
Feeling compelled to tell the truth about one's misconduct is a typical example of the way to hell being paved with good intentions.
Sure, not disclosing is lying, but at least the peace of mind of your spouse is not altered, and you support the consequences of your acts. Only love can help carry that burden of guilt.
So here comes my answer: infidelity is about not loving your partner more than you love your own comfort and we too often mix up comfort and freedom.
I would even dare to say : being faithful is about loving your partner more than you care for your own ego.
What do you think?