Is Romantic Love a Myth of Western Cultures?

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I was having a conversation recently with a well-connected Nigeria who provides extremely well for his wife and three children. Yet he and his wife had separate bedrooms and individual private lives.

With all the martial woes in modern life and rising divorce rates amongst celebrities, the rich and famous and ordinary mortals alike, this was for him the solution to a successful twenty-year marriage. And if one or the other felt like a little amorous ‘get-together’ one night, either he slipped into her boudoir or she came to him, before saying goodnight and returning to their respective bedrooms.

Romantic Love: Rich Non-Traditional Nigerian Wedding for the Traditional

When others around us scoffed at the way he lives his life, he told them point-blankly that “the idea of romantic love is a myth that exist only in Western cultures, and only amongst the lower classes at that.” In fact, he and his wife were rather like the English aristocracy, he said. They married for companionship and for the production of well-adjusted heirs, and as he provides very well for her and the children, to whom he is a loving/caring father, the rest of his life is for him to do with what he wants.

This was no secret between them. His wife fully accepted the deal and they got on with their separate lives perfectly well—likewise the children—all of whom were over-achievers at expensive private schools and universities.

I could not find much at fault with this man’s argument. Of course, I had not met his wife, but from his own descriptions she sounded perfectly at ease with their arrangement.

His upfront point-of-view actually made me understand for once, the nature of the conflict between my own parents, who had been coming from completely different perspectives all of their married life. Even in my own relationships, I had been inclined to repeat similar patterns and mistakes. Or perhaps I’m more at ease with his POV because I am male.

What say you? Is the idea of romantic love and monogamy a myth of Western cultures and a set-up for certain failure from the start?

3 thoughts on “Is Romantic Love a Myth of Western Cultures?”

  1. Natasha says:

    Paul – I think it is a myth to a certain extent. Year ago I read this book called the Spirit of Intimacy and it talked about this very thing. I think too often we in the west look at romance rather than joining someone for a common purpose. Although – I find this arrangement to be rather extreme.

    Spirit of Intimacy by Some.

  2. Paul Salahuddin Armstrong says:

    Yet another myth… The concept of romantic love like so many other things, has it’s origins (somewhat surprisingly perhaps) in the Middle East and arrived in Europe along with the Sufis. ^_^

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