Unbalanced Love: Should We Marry Up Emotionally?

December 14, 2011  |  

Growing up, my mom gave me all sorts of weird advice. “Don’t go to sleep with your hair wet. Always wear panty hose with a dress when going to church, even if it’s 1000 degrees outside. Marry someone who loves you more than you love them.”

That last one seemed like the weirdest piece of advice, because those Disney movies I watched showed both prince and princess madly and desperately in love with one another. But in real life, I saw evidence of how love imbalance need not be problematic. Husbands with looks only their mammas could love, fell hopelessly for their more attractive wives and felt like they’d won the lifetime lottery. In return, the wives, secure in their husband’s devotion, thrive and perhaps over time the love-o-meter evens out.

Carina, a Facebook fan of my blog said, “The relationship lasts longer if he loves you more then you love him. Very good for the kids they can have the privilege of a father under the same roof.” Then Asrid chimed in: “Wow to this question, I always have a conversation about this question with girlfriends. My father (God rest his soul) would always tell me that I would avoid complete heartbreak if I found someone who loves me more than I love him. I still don’t know, I tried it and it did not work. Still up in the air about this one…”

Both quotes have a common theme: If a woman marries a man who would swim the Seven Seas, walk through hot coals, and slay dragons like Beowulf, that provides a woman with a certain level of emotional security. Her mate values her as the ultimate prize in which he cherishes and holds as precious. Me thinks; however, this doesn’t work so well the other way around. Eugenia Berg, blogstress of Married Girl in a Weird World, often writes about her troubled first marriage to a man she believes suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. At the beginning, she loved him desperately and bent herself into knots to please him, but his contentment was a moving target in which Eugenia never made the bull’s eye. “Marrying a person who you are more in love with than he is with you opens you up to emotional abuse and co-dependency,” she said.

In truth, it’s not necessarily “love” that bonds people. Rather it’s commitment and intimacy that makes a lasting marriage, say psychologists. Love–that tingly feeling of sexual attraction–floats in and out. It’s more biology than anything else. But if I’m honest, I married a man whom I was madly in love with and he felt the same; I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Christelyn Karazin is the editor-in-chief of Beyond Black & White, a blog dedicated to women interested and/or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships.

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