[VIEWPOINT]Listen to heart, not a movie lineThere are two important decisions to make in life. One is your job and the other is your spouse. Most young people study hard for the job they want, investing much time and energy. Few young people, however, do any sort of systematic studying for the choice of a spouse.
What can I do to maintain a better relationship? How will I deal with the pain of a sudden good-bye? What does it take to lead a happy married life? What is the right way to act when there is tension between you and your spouse? No one ever teaches you answers to questions like these. You are just expected to embark on the great adventure of life called love and marriage, armed only with the tidbits of knowledge and common sense you’ve picked up from here and there.
How could this be in the modern capitalist world where reason is worshiped? Why doesn’t anyone teach about love or try to learn about love? A simple reason could be the distorted picture of “romantic love” that we have in our time. The concept of romantic love appeared with the popularization of the romance, or the novel, in the late 18th century. With the arrival of the visual media, romantic love has come to be an undisputed ideology.
Of course, many couples who are even now blindly in love will say, “What love ideology? This love that we’ve got is ours and ours only.” Hardly. The actions and conversations we consider natural for those in love are all merely enactments of what the visual media and popular songs have been repeatedly drilled into our minds ever since we were young.
The visual media show in detail how other people share and express their love. Without the visual media, we would not know what kinds of expressions other people have when they are kissing, or what kinds of sweet nothings they whisper to each other and the tone of voice they use when they whisper those sweet nothings. Even more, we would have no idea how other people make love and in what positions.
Immersed in the love ideology preached by the movies, television, commercials, games and popular music, we fall in love in the exact same manner as everyone else. It’s almost as if we are all part of a big mass game in some totalitarian country. And those who are incapable of following that uniform love game suffer from an obsession that they are lacking something essential in their lives.
In the movies and television soap operas, everything falls mysteriously in place with the arrival of a lover who coos, “I love you and you only.” The complicated and intricate problem of love and marriage becomes a problem of finding the right person who will love you and you only. The basic formula of a love story is that the hero and heroine overcome all kinds of hardships with their love and live happily ever after. The young and naive end up brainwashed with the love ideology and are captured by the vague fantasy that once they are married, their lives are automatically guaranteed to be happy.
Lovers and married couples have different sets of principles and behavior patterns. Love and marriage are two completely different kinds of relationships. It is a huge mistake to believe that love alone will transform a love relationship into a marriage. It is not coincidental that divorce rates are higher among couples who married after a passionate relationship. Those couples are in some ways the victims of the love ideology that was planted by the popular media.
It’s a beautiful lovely spring. How about trying to stop imitating soap operas and become your own director and protagonist in your own original love story?
* The writer is a professor of communication at Yonsei University.
by Kim Joo-han