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Monday, 16 June 2014

Unusual Discourse on Love

I'm not entirely sure where I'm heading with this post, or if I even agree with what I'm about to write, but both quotes were enough to make me pause and give some thought to the ideas, so I thought I'd share.

I am reading Slapstick by the wonderful Kurt Vonnegut and came across this: (Note to put it in context, the children have only ever had contact with books, not the outside world.)

"'Eliza..so many of the books I've read...said that love was the most important thing of all. Maybe I should tell you that I love you now.'
'Go ahead' she said.
'I love you, Eliza,' I said.
She thought about it. 'No,' she said at last, 'I don't like it.'
'Why not?' I said.
'It's as though you were pointing a gun at my head,' she said. 'It's just a way of getting somebody to say something they probably don't mean. What else can I say, or anybody say, but, "I love you, too"?' "*

Now while I believe you do sometimes say it because you are bursting with affection at a particular moment, and you say it to kids without an expectation of reciprocation, I will admit, somewhat embarrassingly, I have in the past said it because I needed to hear it back (usually when I was feeling sick and sorry for myself!!). It is an interesting point, that it is virtually impossible for anyone not to say it back, thus rendering the sentiment almost useless. Which is why it means so much more when it comes at unexpected times, or in a note left on the kitchen bench or some such fashion.

I find it interesting that I think we say it to kids because we want them to know it, to feel protected in the safety of our love, with no expectation of the same in return. Do we do that with our partners? Or does it become a just habit, that throw away 'love you' at the end of a phone call or a manipulation for our own benefit? I'd be interested in what others think on this. I don't necessarily agree with the sentiment, but I haven't had an opportunity to experiment with my feelings and thought processes since reading the paragraph...And so it goes. Hi ho.

The other thought, was on the nature of love. "I have had some experiences with love, or think I have, anyway, although the ones I have liked best could easily be described as 'common decency'. I treated somebody well for a little while, or maybe even a tremendously long time, and that person treated me well in turn....Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can be poisonous.
I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, 'Please - a little less love, and a little more common decency.'"**

Now I do believe in love, and I do believe it can grow and last long periods of time. However, I also look at long marriages, or close knit families and see the truth in the common decency idea. Love can often take people for granted, or be careless or demanding. Common decency is always respectful. I'd love to know if anyone has any other thoughts to add on this.
Hi ho.

Linking up with #lifethiseek with a rather unusual post for me on love.

For anyone who hasn't read Vonnegut, start with Slaughter House 5 and then A Man Without a Country. I love Vonnegut - he's an underrated brilliant writer. And so it goes.


*page 76, Slapstick, Kurt Vonnegut, Vintage 2008, London (copyright 1976)
**page 2, ibid.



28 comments:

  1. Gosh you've got an amazing way with words! I always love reading your writing! xx Lucy from Bake Play Smile

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  2. I read Cats Craddle by Kurt Vonnegut about 20 years ago - interesting. I was told "Breakfast of Champions" was the one to go for. On topic - marriage has no guarantees but treating your partner with respect and consideration certainly helps.

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    1. Interesting - I didn't love Breakfast of Champions (I enjoyed it, but SlaghterHouse 5 really delighted me, and I was besotted with it).

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  3. I very rarely say "I love you" to my husband and vice versa, there are other words and actions in which it is implied. we both do say it regularly to our son - and like you say, its to make him feel safe and wanted and loved. Thought provoking piece. :)

    Hello from #teamIBOT

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    1. I can't link back to see your blog? Have you a new one?

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  4. Ha, wrong post for me to comment on! I'm quite anti-love these days, because of the whole taking for granted and associated pain blah blah blah.
    BUT I will say, that yes I think we tell our kids this because we want them to know it, and we should always do that with everyone we love. Maybe more marriages would survive then. Maybe.

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  5. It's interesting that you talk about love with our children, Mr 4 has been an force to be reckoned with in shaking up our family. Until he came along my parents very rarely said I love you, but they do it regularly now because it's something Paul and I do with Mr 4. Paul and I don't say love you at the end of every phone call but we do say 'sweet dreams' so I guess that is kind of similar.

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    1. It's quite interesting when you think about it and start to notice habits...very interesting to notice your parents altering their behaviour...

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  6. This is a wee reminder that I need to be a little nicer to my husband, this post was meant for me today!

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  7. I must admit I dislike the 'love you' that gets thrown around. The "I" is important and gives it more meaning I think.

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  8. As always a very thought provoking post. I am big on I love yous. I say it all the time to my husband and children and even to my friends who I am close to. I want them to know how special they are to me, but perhaps a little part of me - with my husband and kids especially - says it because (as you said above) I need to hear it back. Perhaps we don't need to say it all the time, it should just be shown through our actions. Hmm.

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    1. Don't get me wrong, no judgement on it. I just thought the idea that you have to say it back is true (and I'd not thought of that before).

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  9. That was really interesting. I have a feeling that showing respect is much more important than saying I love you. It's the old actions speak louder than words scenario I think

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  10. Really interesting. I do think "love you" gets bandied around too much and in a perfunctory rather than meaningful way. I prefer to show love, rather than spout my feelings all the time.
    Michelle is right when she says showing 'respect' is more important. All the successful marriages I've observed have this. :)

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  11. We say "I love you" - often - every day - all three of us. There are times when I am annoyed with A and he will say it and I won't say it back because we also have a saying that goes "Sometimes you make me so angry I forget how much I love you the rest of the time" - but one the argument is over, it's back to our normal !
    Have a great day !
    Me
    PS - yes, I agree, definitely a different type of post from you !! xox

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    1. I think that's really nice that you don't always say it back - it means more then when you do...

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  12. Very true, love can become the shadow in our relationships - common decency and kindness is important, it makes relationships work and is often the thing that is missing when people say the love has been lost xx

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  13. This is a really interesting idea. I shall have to think on this some more. My thoughts are currently unclear. I did add Vonnegut to my reading list, though. xS

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    1. I didn't love Slapstick - go with Slaughterhouse 5

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  14. I like what Josefa said, I was thinking along the same lines - that love is always there in the background, it's the lynchpin that holds a relationship together on a fundamental level, but without the day-to-day kindness and common decency, there exists no relationship at all.
    People often ask 'is love enough?' I'd have to say no, it's not.

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  15. I agree on both counts- sometimes it is a habit, or because you need to hear it back. Sometimes though it creeps up & you think man, I seriously love you. They're often the times you don't say it - when you should.

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  16. I really enjoyed reading this, Lydia. Especially about the need for more common decency.

    SSG xxx

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  17. It's not something I can say. I know that sounds weird but I think I've tried to say it to my mum and struggled. I can write it.

    I can say it to children and do it in response to the declarations of my (now) godson who's five; and my niece when she was young.

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    1. I suspect that's far more common than you think...a lot of people sit in the 'it goes without saying' camp and actually don't say it.

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  18. When I think about it I do tell the kids I love them more than anyone else. And yes, I think it's a protective gesture and also one of hoping it instills the feeling that they feel worthy of love. Thought provoking passage from the book. Xx

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  19. I can say I love you to our kids, grandkids and my spouse. I have never told my dad and I "think" I may have told my mum as she was dying. It was never something that was said in our family. However, it is felt. Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 7/52. Next Week: A Pet Story.

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  20. I tell my kids all the time that I love them through words as well as actions. Even when I didn't see two of my daughters for a long part of their life and they were disengage and angry with me I still said it/wrote it/ text it without every expecting it beoodaid in return.

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