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Old 02-11-2006, 06:29 PM   #16
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Perhaps a more honest title would have been Man, I Really Really Need to Get Laid. After all that fire-and-brimstone vitriol about the soulsucking evils of narcissistic bourgeois romance, his halfhearted props to the less-is-more, small-favors civility of longterm marriage make it sound like some kind of masochistic ashes-and-sackcloth routine.

I would define romance as an eroticized sense of wonderment and mystery at another person's uniqueness. In some ways this is stronger at the beginning of a relationship (because of the thrill of discovery), in other ways it's stronger later on (because the more you get to know someone, the more you realize how unknowable they really are--which is a beautiful and alluring thing, not alienating at all). I don't think there's anything devious or sinister about the former variety, though--so long as it's appreciated as one particular piece of the whole big picture, like nb said.

Of course longterm relationships do require a lot of unglamorous, unexciting, and at times unpleasant negotiations and compromise and sacrifices. But at the same time, that's your rock, your cushion, your foothold in life, and it really does smoothe the road and make the tough times a lot easier to bear. At least for me it does.

In India, where arranged marriages are the standard, you will often hear elders of both sexes assuring nervous betrothed young people, full of hopes and fears and questions about the spouses-to-be they barely know: "Don't worry--be patient, and let love come with time; because it will." While I can't really see this precise philosophy ever flying in America, I think there is a lot of truth to it. Love can give rise to intimacy, yes, but to a large extent the process works in reverse just as well. Either way, it takes a lot of mutual respect, mutual commitment to running a household, and mutual commitment to maintaining (and passing on to your children, should you have them) whichever shared legacies are important to you, to make it all work.

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Old 02-12-2006, 01:55 PM   #17
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For all his vitrol and cynicism, he basically nailed it talking about excessive expectations. But it's not just due to romanticized love in literature, movies and cheesy Valentine's marketing.

Combine it with a general cultural shift toward self-serving, instant gratification, convenience and disposible everything. What have you done for me lately?

In general no one addresses the real sacrifice and compromise it takes to build a life together happily in a concrete, actionable and altruistic way.

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Old 02-12-2006, 03:20 PM   #18
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here's a love story..

Trapped in her body,she touches his heart

February 12, 2006

They met in Virginia in 1946. They were in their 20s. She was a Navy nurse, and he was a Navy doctor. He noticed her in the cafeteria, then on the dance floor. ''All the fly boys liked to dance with her."

He liked how she walked -- ''Lily had her own kind of gait." And how ''she could recite poetry like mad." And how, at the age of 16, ''all on her own she decided to become a Catholic."

There wasn't anything that Dr. Jack Manning didn't like about Lily Sharpe Fields.

They married at the US Naval Chapel in Portsmouth, Va., and a year later Jack Manning brought his new bride and infant son home to Taunton.

''They looked like a Hollywood couple," says Manning's niece, Mary Driscoll. ''I have strong memories of them going out one evening, Aunt Lily looking gorgeous, then splashing perfume on herself including her tongue. I asked her why, and she said she wanted to smell nice even when she was talking."

Life was good for the Mannings. They bought a small house in Fall River, where Jack worked as a pediatrician. Then they had another son. Then they bought a bigger house where Jack opened his own practice. Then Lily got polio.

It's just a word now, but in the mid-1950s polio was an epidemic. Some cases were mild -- chills, fever, muscle aches and then recovery. But Lily contracted paralytic polio. She was 33 years old the last time she walked, fed herself, brushed her teeth, hugged her boys.

''That was the toughest time, the beginning," says her husband. All the iron lungs, rows and rows of them, ''people dying left and right." He's 85 now. Lily's 83. They have been married for 59 years, and for 51 of them Lily has been unable to move.

Iron lungs were big steel drums in which polio victims lay. The ''lung" mimicked breathing for those whose muscles and nerves were paralyzed. Only a person's head and neck jutted out.

Lily was in an iron lung for six months.

Then she was moved to a rocking bed for short periods of time.

Rocking beds were like seesaws. The continuous up and down motion forced air in and out of a paralyzed diaphragm. The rocking bed made Lily seasick.

Two years of this, and Lily still couldn't move. But she could talk if she saved up her air.

''I was a physician. I had seen a lot of things. Life is all not sweetness and light," he said. ''But in the beginning, I was always hoping that she'd improve."

He brought Lily home and accommodated the house for her. He set up mirrors around her rocking bed so that she could see around her. He hired housekeepers and nurses and therapists because she could never be left alone. And every night he slept on a cot that folded into a wall so that he could be with her.

His niece shares these things, because he talks about Lily, not himself.

''Lily did a lot with the house," he said. ''She took care of the insurance. She took care of the boys. She was really active on the telephone. And then there were her prayers. She prayed for everyone. She was home 48 years, and everything went pretty well."

Nearly three years ago Lily went to a hospital to have her medical equipment updated. She hasn't been home since. What polio didn't take from her, pneumonia did. She has a tracheotomy now and can no longer speak. ''She's slipping, little by little."

You say to Jack Manning: How did you do all this? Take care of a wife and raise two boys? Make a living and a difference? How do you continue to do this for more than half a century?

And he says, ''I love her. When you take your vows, you take your vows. I enjoy being with Lily even though it's not an ideal situation. And I know Lily would do the same thing for me."

He doesn't complain. He doesn't believe he has anything to complain about. He will tell you that life has been challenging -- getting help, getting things done.

He will tell you that he drives 100 miles every day to be with her. ''I have 91,000 miles on my car and it's just two years old and I only drive here. But it's highway driving, so it's not bad."

And he will tell you that Lily is more difficult now. She hates when he leaves.

And she hates when he pays attention to someone else when he's with her.

''Right now we're reduced to where we don't have much conversation anymore. I put my head on her shoulder and hold her hand. That's all I can do."

He is a man still in love. ''What is it, honey? I'm right here. I can hear you. Are you cool enough? Are you feeling the fan?"

And he talks about her with love, too. ''This isn't what I would recommend but I have no bitterness at all. I really find her to be still a good companion."

No self-pity. No why her, why me, why us?

''I have someone stay with her every night until 11 so she won't be alone."

A woman trapped in her body for half a century, she can't reach across the bed and touch his hand. But she doesn't have to. She touches his heart.

What is the ideal Valentine's gift, people are asking?

A love like Lily and Jack's.
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Old 02-14-2006, 03:30 PM   #19
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Mon Feb 13

Most single Americans are playing hard to get and are happy to dodge Cupid's arrow, new research says, despite the annual Valentine's Day splurge on chocolates and flowers.

Forty-three percent of adult Americans, or 87 million people, describe themselves as single -- but only 16 percent are looking for love, the survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found.

Fifty-five percent of US singles say they have no interest in looking for a romantic partner. That feeling is especially pronounced among women, or those who have been divorced or widowed.

Surprisingly, and despite the dominance of dating images in popular culture, younger singles aged between 18-29 seem to be able to take romance or leave it: 51 percent said they were not in the market for a soulmate.

The survey also lifts the lid on the barren dating scene even for those Americans singles who are playing the field.

Thirty-six percent of those "active" on the dating scene said they had not had a date in three months, 13 percent had one. Twenty-two percent had been on between two and four dates, while a lucky quarter had been on five or more.

Where is the best place to meet a partner? : according to the survey, which sampled Internet users on the question, 38 percent of those in committed relationships hooked up at work or school.

A third met through family and friends, and 13 percent met their match at a nightclub, bar or cafe.

Surprisingly, given the proliferation of online dating agencies and matchmakers, only three percent of happy couples who are also online met through the Internet.

The study, part of larger research on online matchmaking yet to be published, was conducted late last year.

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