The views we have about love’s presumptive necessary course, views often held by the art world, are very skewed.
As you get older, we’ve heard, you’ll grow apart from your significant other. Or you’ll take each other for granted. Or you’ll be less sexually interested in one another. Or you’ll come to be like “friends” or “good teammates” or (dare I say?) “colleagues.” Or you’ll get tired of monogamy. Or you’ll be simmering, endlessly, on a low boil called “inner conflict.”
Perhaps as the years go by, the strains will multiply as will the grievances and the resentments. Or the whole thing will just become tidy, comfortable enough–in a word, bourgeois. Fantasies or affairs or dusty junk drawers will mediate the relationship henceforth.
But this is not my experience with my wife. Each year I come to love her even more. To say this is not to say something saccharine or sentimental. Nor is it to say something cute or virtue-signaling-esque. It’s just to speak the plain truth, one that accords with my experience.
A confluence of streams–perhaps these?: the critique and auto-critique of Total Work, the maturing of spiritual practice, the fact that we’ve been living, often in close quarters, for 24 hours for almost 8 years now, our mutual commitment to the truth and to beauty, and others–led to a celebration of her birthday recently, a celebration that felt celebratory. And loving. And lovely.
Love does not always spoil; it can deepen and ripen, and does. Surely, ongoing introspection and I-Thou dialogues are crucial, albeit no guarantees. Ripening is an act of grace.
If love can ripen, then why, pray tell, are there not more (or any?) post-postmodern (i.e., metamodern) works of art that celebrate reverence, depth, spiritedness, peace, and love? Art should not continue to presume that tragedy equals depth and that happiness is nothing but sentimental fantasy. Sacred art in and for our time would make ample room for the kind of beauty that radiates with grace.