Savage Love

It may be objected that marriage must then be simply ‘the grave of love’. It would be more accurate to echo Croce and say that ‘marriage is the grave of savage love’ and more often the grave of sentimentality.

Savage and natural love is manifested in rape. But rape, like polygamy, is also an indication that men are not yet in a stage to apprehend the presence of an actual person in a woman. This is as much as to say that they do not know how to love. Rape and polygamy deprive a woman of her equality by reducing her to sex. Savage love empties human relations of personality.

On the other hand, a man does not control himself owing to lack of ‘passion’ (meaning ‘power of the libido’), but precisely because he loves and, in virtue of his love, will not inflict himself. He refuses to commit an act of violence which would be in the denial and destruction of the person. He thus indicates that his dearest wish is for the other’s good. His egotism goes round via the other. This, it will be granted, is a notable revolution.

And we may now pass beyond that altogether negative and privative statement of Croce’s and at last define marriage as the institution in which passion is ‘contained’, not by morals, but by love.

Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World