"Love... is different than you think... It's never in a song... or on a TV screen..."
The problem here is the language. English simply doesn't have enough words for love--love is a complex, intricate thing. The Greek language has four, and I'm not sure they cover all the bases either.
Being in love is an emotion. Being in love is a wonderful feeling, chills every time you see the person... but it is temporary. There is no relationship, no matter how passionate, that can maintain "being in love" indefinitely. On average, I'd say "being in love" lasts about two to four years, and then dies. (It can come back, but only if nurtured, and even then it comes back in a slow burn, like embers, rather than the fast hot flame it is in a relationship's beginning.)
If people rely on "being in love" for the basis of a relationship, then no relationship will last. And if that's the case, monogamy is pointless, because that feeling will go away, or it may resurface with someone else, and so it's just going to end eventually anyway.But I don't believe that "being in love" is the basis for relationship. And I don't believe that "being in love" is the same as love. Love, on the other hand, is an action.
It's an action because it's not contingent on emotions or feeling. And it's an action because it's a choice: it's something you have to choose to do. Sometimes you have to choose to do it despite how you're feeling.
Imagine a relationship in which the feeling of "being in love" has died out. Imagine that the daily habits of one person are starting to just become annoying to the other; that they are starting to prefer time alone to time with each other; that fights and arguments come more easily and more quickly than they ever did before. Now imagine that one of them, despite his lack of emotion or lack of feeling towards the other, chooses to do something good for them anyway: maybe wash the dishes when it wasn't his turn, or write his partner a note, or schedule a dinner night for just the two of them, etc. Doing that action--without an emotional drive for it, choosing to do it anyway--is love. He is being loving toward his partner: demonstrating love.
The above scenario isn't a matter of "pretending to be in love when you're not," because the actions he's taking aren't necessarily only taken by those who are "in love." Rather, I would argue that the above scenario is an example of choosing to love when you don't feel it. The Greeks had a word for "divine" love: agape. It means unconditional love, love without terms. Love that is not contingent on feelings.
This, actually, is what I believe the point of monogamy is. Because, as I said, the feeling of "being in love" will die. Not may, will--it's only a matter of time.
And sooner or later, the only thing holding you to that other person (for the moment) will be your commitment to that other person. When passion fades, commitment takes over.
There are times when I as a married man will not feel anything toward my wife, but will look at the ring on my finger and remember that "Till Death do us part" means what it sounds like. And, in those times, that commitment will be my motivation to work towards my marriage, to actively put effort into that relationship. And eventually, if all goes well, those feelings of "being in love" will resurface. But without that commitment, without that "shackle" (dare I call it that?), why would I stay, when all the feelings are gone?
(This is not to say that I believe that battered wives should stay with their abusive husbands, or anything like that. I don't. But that's another post. Suffice it to say that, we're talking here about passionless marriages, and I believe the commitment and covenant of marriage is designed to, among other things, insulate against the eventual fading of "being in love.")When feelings die, I choose to love. When tempers flare, I choose to love. When hope fades, when everything's falling apart, when dreams shatter, I choose to love. I'm in this relationship for the long haul, and so I choose to love.