Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is Love?

If I were to write a book about the Principles of a Happy Marriage--assuming someone out there would want to read romance advice from an academic economist--I would definitely include a section or two about what is love.

I understand that every individual is different and has unique needs. Therefore, every pairing of individuals and thus every marriage is also unique. Nevertheless, I believe that several fairly universal principles will apply to making any relationship successful:

The most important principle of a happy marriage is love. Love is caring for another person such that we genuinely want what is best for them. When we love someone, we want them to be happy, content, and to have peace.

There are at least two ways to love someone:

Passive Love: while we are busy with our own struggles, we silently hope that they are happy, content and at peace.

Active Love: we specifically dedicate some of our own life energy to helping this person to be happy, content, and at peace.

The kind of love that makes for a happy marriage is Active Love, though passive love is important in a world where our time and abilities are limited.
More accurately, working toward a happy marriage involves being willing to sacrifice all that you have in order to help your spouse to be safe, happy, and to have peace--even when they are not all in.

  1. This means that no matter what your spouse does or does not do for you or for your marriage, it is your responsibility to make sure that they get from you that which is best for them.

  2. This also means that a large portion of your life energy is going to be devoted to learning about your spouse.
    Research, Research, Research.
    In order to provide what is best, you need to figure out what that is. This is not an easy task. Even the seemingly most simple person is a complex puzzle. It takes more than a lifetime to figure any one person out, so you'd better get started now....and keep at it.

I hope you find my thoughts helpful.  Please comment and/or respond somehow if you have other thoughts about this sort of thing. 

I passively love you all.


  1. This is really great stuff.
    I like the difference you pointed out between "passively loving" and "actively loving".
    I absolutely believe that when our greatest joy comes from our spouses happiness we experience unity that makes life so meaningful.
    I also really like how you pointed out that it's a responsibility, whether the spouse is all in or not.
    This is really important stuff.
    Everything you said about actively loving is that hubby of mine to a T- the willingness to sacrifice, sense of responsibility, and continuos research and effort to know more about me. If only more marriages had the selflessness and thoughtfulness of you guys!

    I really enjoyed the post.

  2. I love to hear what you have to say and I often agree or respect your views. You have a lucky wife!

  3. Everyone understands that love motivates service, but I think underemphasized is that service increases love. Too often people seem to get busy, leaning on "passive love" for a while, but then when things settle down they find they don't feel as strongly about their spouse as they once did. Sadly, people seem to attribute this to a defect in their spouse, using it as an excuse to forego "active love", which of course only worsens the problem.

    I love the active/passive distinction, especially the emphasis on research for spouse-specific care.