Okay, so, this is not about sexual bondage in any way shape or form. If that’s your thing, then good for you. I have no commentary on what consenting adults do in privacy.
This is about a different kind of bond – the day to day interactions between a couple. If you’ve ever heard someone call their significant other the “old ball and chain” then you know what I mean.
In “On Marriage” by Khalil Gibrain, he says:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but each one of you be
alone–even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver
with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not in each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the Cyprus grow not in each other’s shadows.
The National Catholic Register has an article titled, “Please Don’t Read This Poem At Your Wedding“. They state that it’s a “reverse how-to guide”. I’m here arguing that it works.
“Make not a bond of love”.
Relationships can be unhealthy. If you’ve never had a bad relationship, then you’re lucky. I can’t always tell from the outside if a relationship is healthy or not. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
However, there have been relationships that have seemed unhealthy to me from the outside.
I’ve known several women over the years who upon dating new men changed their interests, their behavior, their looks. It’s one thing to finally feel comfortable being yourself. It’s another thing to completely change yourself to acquiesce to another’s ideal. I can’t think of any examples of men in cis relationships or any homosexual relationships with this much kowtowing. I’m sure it happens but I guess with gender dynamics it happens more frequently when someone feels that the other person has all the power.
The masculine equivalent in our patriarchal society, I suppose, is the very reserved man who espouses an overbearing woman.
My husband told me about a friend he had that liked having someone else make decisions for him. The friend’s mother picked out his clothes when he was in high school. As so many of us do, he dated someone reminiscent of a parent – his mother. We’re pretty sure his spouse still lays out clothes for him in the morning. If that’s what he wants, then I’m glad he found it. It would not be what I would want.
If you’re a slave to another person’s ideas of what a mate should be, then how can you be true to yourself? Maybe you can, but I don’t know how I could.
“A Moving Sea.”
There’s going to be give and take in any relationship. Sometimes you’ll have to help the other person, and sometimes you will need help. It’s important, though, that this ebbs and flows – if water stops moving then it stagnates, so it is with people.
“Each One of You Be Alone”.
Just as diversity in larger groups of people adds richness to the whole, with romance I’ve found that differences make our relationships more interesting.
My husband and I share some of the same interests, but we also have different ones. He and I often find we’ve read the same articles without planning it. There’s no one else I enjoy talking to more.
It’s good that we can share but aren’t the same. Sameness limits us.
“Stand Together but Not too Near”.
A tree in the shadow of another cannot get the light it needs to grow. Boundaries in any relationship, whether romantic or not, are a good safeguard against bitterness.
I think the whole point of the poem is the adage to be true to yourself, and that’s especially important in our closest connections.