This episode is about romantic love, or as Kaitlin likes to call it, THE SPARKLIES. It’s a big deal. It makes you do really crazy things, like decide to marry someone against your parents’ will, then plan an elaborate scheme where you pretend to kill yourself, but then actually kill yourself and subsequently end up trapped dead with your partner in the most mundane eternity, à la Romeo and Juliet.
Kaitlin describes ideas about true love that she’s inherited from her upbringing: when (not if) you find it, you will “just know,” and when that happens it will be so powerful that you will want to live with this person and get married and make babies and do it all forever until you die. Getting married has become a way to express the greatness of your love for a person. “Let’s do this. All the way. Just me and you. FOR LIFE.”
But this package deal idea is a relatively recent phenomenon. We framed this episode with an interview from scholar and author Stephanie Coontz. She’s the author of “Marriage: A History” or, alternatively titled, “How Love Conquered Marriage”. She explains that some version of romantic love has been found to exist in almost every culture on the planet. What’s unique to the past couple centuries, and largely to the west, is the idea that romantic love should lead to marriage. That it should last forever.
R + J
What happens when you throw it all away for love? What comes next—bliss? We listen in as Shakespeare’s two greatest lovers deal with their reality. Double suicide was fucking romantic, but was it worth it?
Lupe is a spirited, proud woman. She grew up in Ecuador, born to wealthy business owners, and moved to New York when she was 19. Love and marriage have always been separate things for her, but she still got married. In her words, her marriage was never supposed to be, but she made sacrifices in the name of family. But once her children were older and she had the opportunity, she got divorced and found out what it really means to be in love with someone.
First Comes Marriage
Arranged marriages, although they sound scary to our western ears, are considered extremely successful; divorce rates are much lower. But those are statistics—what about being in love with the person that you married? A Harvard study found that partners in arranged marriages, over time, end up being more in love than couples who marry for love. Our friend Ryan Kailath has known this his whole life, because he grew up with it—his parents met for 15 minutes before they got married.
This episode was produced by Mitra Kaboli, Kaitlin Prest, Ryan Kailath, Shira Bannerman, Jen Ng, Kelsey Padgett, Suzy Hunt, Tobias Segal and Hana Crawford. Special editorial help from Ann Hepperman and Sharon Mashihi.