Is it Better to Marry Someone who Loves you More than you Love Them?

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Loving someone and being loved back are two sides of the same coin – two aspects of the same emotion called love. And yet what a world of difference it makes to an individual when one is more than the other. Since human beings are not mathematical equations, very often they find the two states out of balance - either loving someone more or receiving more love than they feel. Even in today’s pop culture, such a similar situation is not unimaginable. Witness the scene in TV series Sex and The City when Carrie attends the wedding of an old friend and the latter remarks, “it is always better to marry someone who loves you more than you love them”. But apart from the make-believe world of films where weddings and breakups are necessary to create and sustain dramatic interest, how true is the maxim in real life?

The question whether it is better to marry someone who loves you more than you love him, definitely highlights an important aspect of love – the futility of loving someone when your affections are not returned in equal measure. If you marry a guy who you love more than he loves you, then you are most likely setting yourself up for marital unhappiness. Throughout the marriage, you will find yourself giving to the relationship more than you are getting in return. The responsibility of maintaining love and intimacy in the relationship will be yours, each and every time. It is simply not in human nature to keep giving and not requiring anything in return. You may feel that you have enough love for both of you but then what you feel is probably not really love but adoration or even obsession. Every human being has need of some emotional intimacy and support and if you are happy without receiving this in your marriage, you are probably getting it from another source like a friend, parent, co-worker or even a child.

Then there is the romantic fallacy of believing that if you continue with your unstinting love long enough, your spouse will come around to loving you as much as you love him. There is indeed such a thing as “exposure effect” according to which relationship experts believe that repeated exposure makes people like familiar faces, music, even nonsense syllables, better. Thus the better your partner gets to know you, the more attractive and intelligent he may find you. And yet what your partner may eventually feel for you is affection and gratitude and not really the love between spouses.

Also sociologists point out that the idea of primacy of romantic love in marriage is a relatively recent concept; since ancient times and even now in many cultures of the world, marriages are entered upon with considerations of financial security, economic background and mutual compatibility rather than airy notions of romance and love. However this utilitarian approach assumes that neither party offers more love than the other. If a marriage is going to be a practical arrangement, then it is best both partners agree equally about the irrelevance of emotions in it. Only when both are united in this approach, then even a marriage without love can be a mutually satisfying one.

On the other side of the question is a marriage where you are loved more by your partner than you love him. To an extent this ensures that you will be emotionally and financially secure in a marriage since your spouse is unlikely to look elsewhere for love. Also it is undoubtedly a great feeling to be taken care of, indulged and treated like a queen. The realization that few or no demands are going to be placed on you is another advantage of such a marriage. It is a rare arrangement where you can have the best of emotional and material support without being expected to give back much in return.

And yet in this situation, some amount of unease is bound to creep in after a while. Human nature being what it is, you will probably still feel unsatisfied even after receiving more love and care from your spouse than what you are giving back. The root of this dissatisfaction lies in the fact that despite living in emotional and material comfort, your deepest emotional needs are not being met. And these needs have to do with giving, striving and making an effort to bring about your own happiness. So you may be quite surprised to find that after years of being loved and taken care of by a model husband, you are getting attracted to love outside marriage.

More than creating the potential for cheating, the situation where you receive more love than give it back is also highly unfair on your spouse, especially if he has no clue on how you really feel about him. He may be blissfully unaware that his wife loves him far less than he loves her and the day the truth dawns on him will be enough to shatter an innocent man whose only fault was to love a wife without demanding anything from her. Even if your partner is aware that you love him less than he loves you, it still creates enough room for imbalance so that after years of playing the devoted husband, he may have enough and look for a relationship where he will be loved back in return.

In the end, it is best to remember that marriage is not a competition, where one person has to love more than the other. In any other relationship, especially one that does not require mutual commitment, you can explore the idea of looking for a partner who loves you more than you love him. This would be an arrangement of convenience and indeed, it may even prove therapeutic if you are recovering from a breakup following a loveless relationship. However marriage is a relationship which is happiest when both partners give and receive love in equal measure and thus ideally love in a marriage should be mutual.