Some years ago I read some research about children from mixed race marriages who often because they didn’t learn either their mother’s or father’s native language in any great depth found it difficult to communicate on a deeper level thus making intimate relationships difficult to maintain. Not being able to express their feelings or, misunderstanding responses clearly restricted communications with their parents, grandparents, spouse and children and friends particularly in times of pressure. This dirth of vocabulary or understanding can be passed down the succeeding generations, ‘children and children’s children’
This must be equally true for couples whose mother tongues are different; particularly if they are communicating in a third language. The words of love, affection, humour, perception or censor, all components of a deeper relationship, are bound up in the culture and language that we learn from birth probably even in the womb. Surely this is not a purely 21st century phenomenon, our past will always affect our future?
Today films, television, popular songs, even advertising convey the impression that love is primarily a physical thing and attraction is enough to maintain an enduring relationship. Of course physical attraction is essential but impressions must then be reinforced by honest insights of a persons character if we are to be able to share our deepest thoughts; hopes, dreams, fears and failures with our loved ones and friends knowing that they will empathies, reassure and affirm, builds appreciation, trust and respect.
Words express our emotions, our inspiration, our perspective, our joy, our rage a different sort of power.
Shelly’s “Loves Philosophy” a poem on physical love written a hundred years ago touches hearts and minds in a wholly different way than Churchill or Luther King (please see my previous blog), he is not trying to persuade nations it is much more personal.
The fountains mingle with the river
And the river with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever with a sweet emotion:
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a divine law in one spirit meet and mingle –
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea –
What are all these kissings worth if thou kiss not me?
Shelly’s poem is about physical love he does not allude to the character of his beloved. His friend, and sometimes notorious womaniser, Byron wrote a poem also about physical beauty but he ends with recognizing that the character of the lady is part of her beauty.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
The “Love language” of unconditional love, written thousands of years before either Shelly’s or Byron’s poems. is about human character and is still touching hearts and minds and changing the world today.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Virtually every wedding I have ever been to has included this scripture in its service but it is not just describing marital love it applies to every relationship, one human being to another: family, friend, colleague, neighbour or stranger. “Love Language”: stirring emotions, challenging thought, lifting our perspective.
Loves Philosophy Percy Bysshe Shelly 1792-1822
She Walks in Beauty (1814) George Gordon, Lord Byron 1788–1824
1Corithians 13:1-13 NIV