First things first: Don’t forget to send in your entries to my Blogoversay Contest! Read this link for details:
In response to the above, I’ve received another entry. May I say now that I have been blown away by the wonderful thought and creativity that has been put into the entries? You are all to be congratulated and applauded! Winners, all! Here is the latest from Jeanne Peterson of FlyingGma.com and MineEyesHaveSeen.com. Along with the photo came the following explanation:
“My submission for your contest is of an Oak Tree that I pass weekly as I am running errands once a week for work. The evening I took the photo I was feeling overwhelmed with work, life in general and something about that tree was calling me to stop. Just begging me to stop and take notice of the beautiful tree, sky and clouds.”
Now, on to the title topic: In this post I brought up the subject of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I caught early one morning recently during a bout of insomnia. I won’t rehash the synopsis here. The question the episode raised, in my mind, was “with what aspect of a person do you fall in love?”. If a significant part of the external appearance of the person with whom you are in love were to be inexorably altered, without warning or preparation, would you still feel the same way about him/her? Would you be able to continue the relationship without a hiccup? On considering the idea, my initial response was “Of course I would! My love is not restricted to my husband’s appearance alone!” It was after this knee-jerk reaction that I started to really explore the topic, and now I am not so altogether sure of my reaction to such a change, particularly when you stop to consider the forms that change could take!
The change referred to originally was a complete “body-switch.” Your husband is no longer a male, but now a female – and not just a feminine version of him, but a totally different external appearance. It is important to remember that nothing else has changed – only the appearance. The personality of your loved one is unaltered. Inside, appearances notwithstanding, he is the same man you married. As much as I at least attempt to live a life in which other people’s opinions do not affect me (positively or negatively), and insofar as societal attitudes toward homosexuality are changing (ever so slowly), would you be able to continue your relationship on the same level of love (in all its expressions) as you had before the change?
Also, consider this: What if your spouse were to remain the same sex, but to undergo a complete appearance-change otherwise? Perhaps your handsome Colin Firth clone now appears to be a replica of Geoffrey Rush? Or perhaps your gorgeous Cameron Diaz is now an ogre. á la Shrek? Still in love as deeply?
And what if the reverse were to come about? Suppose your delightful Linda Hunt or Kathy Bates is now Julia Roberts or Gwynneth Paltrow? She is still that woman you fell in love with inside, but she is now a knock-out (by the world’s standards, anyway). Will you love her the same? Less? More?
The fact that I am married to a man far more handsome inside and out than any movie-star idol you could name, and that I firmly believe (or at least want to) that nothing would change in my feelings for him, does not mean that the question does not give me pause. What trips me up is not so much the “handsome-to homely shift as the homely-to-handsome transformation. I’m afraid and maybe a bit ashamed to confess that I believe I would be all the more entranced by such a man – particularly if the changes wrought left him still as in love with me as ever (and not feeling the urge to move on to a spouse that more closely matches his own in beauty!). All hypothetically speaking, of course! 😀 Why? Why would it make a difference?
Both the preceding changes are entirely different from cosmetic changes, one way or the other. I think most of us feel that accident, injury, surgery, or any sort of disfiguring act would not matter – even less so if it meant they would still be alive. Although, how many times have I read of divorce coming on the heels of a mastectomy? Husbands who could not handle a wife missing one or both breasts, or conversely, wives repulsed by a husband without a leg or arm or eye, or perhaps otherwise scarred by war? (I recognize that those changes rarely, if ever, occur without a significant impact on the personality or behavior of the person who has undergone them. There are mitigating circumstances many times which render this subject, in that instance, moot.)
The question is still the basic one of the natures of love and the consequent commitment. Externals have a powerful affect on our choices (and not just in people). This even holds true for those who are blind. We like to think that the outward attributes have no bearing on their choices. But don’t they? If one depends on another sense, such as hearing, would that not set up the same standard and beg the same question? If the man with the magnificent baritone voice with its golden liquid tones were to suddenly sound like fingernails scratching across a blackboard, would his wife still be in love? The same holds true for the sense of touch. A blind woman, might lovingly trace the handsome contours of her husbands face, or feel his skin, or perhaps be in love with his personal pheromone-laced scent, and suddenly be confronted with completely altered contours, or sandpaper skin, or a skunk-like odor. Would true love and constancy remain?
Give these questions some thought over the next few days. Share with us, either in the comments below, or in your own blog (please post the link to your blog here if you do). I’d love to know how you feel. If you are married or have a significant other, and you are in love, tell us (if you know), “What was it you fell in love with first? Why? If you are not in a committed relationship, what do you look for (or listen for or seek to touch) when forming a relationship? And finally, when forming friendships – outside of marriage and partnering – do the same questions apply?
Don’t forget to send in your contest entries!
Remember who you are! I wish you all enough. . .