Love has almost always been about business. To find the love of your life, you need to realize what influence history may play on your future decisions.
During a love coaching session, saying ‘Love is like a business transaction,’ tends to be the hardest expression for clients to digest. While some would agree, most would suggest I’m being cold and insensitive. Love is “supposed” to be warm and fuzzy not unemotional. But the only way to understand why I have come to this conclusion is to do a quick history lesson on the business of love.
Whether of the same or opposite sex, people always have and always will be attracted to someone else. Our modern approach to love reinforces the idea that the ultimate reason two people are together or get married is “to fall in love” or “to be in love.” Throughout history, marriage and the reason to be married has changed. As morals, rituals, and customs were adjusted, so was the approach to love and marriage. While relationships have undergone a number of transitions, they can be broken down into two themes: legacy and morality.
“Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.”
― Ayn Rand
In ancient times, the official reason to get married was to have children. Offspring were a method of securing your legacy. The notion of a legacy shifted into the family lineage. To create structure and order, the family unit was established. This was the lawful way a society expanded.
There was a flaw in the system though. The head of the family (the central power) lost influence when families grew larger. Often someone within the family would create conflicts by disputing the control of the head, requesting the rule of a new family unit in a different territory. To confront this challenge, family units developed into patriarchalism: an elder man used his power to have influence over many family leaders, which controlled smaller territories.
What about women, you ask? Well, the patriarch had total domain over the women as well. He would choose a suitable woman to be his wife and their children would have the right to follow him as the leader. This approach birthed the Monarchism system of emperors, rulers, and kings.
In Greek society, men were the center of the community due to the idea of lineage. Women were placed in very clear roles. There were courtesans for pleasure, concubines to daily care, and wives to give legitimate children and maintain the home. A man had children to honor the homeland. So he chooses a flawless vehicle (woman) to ensure the creation of impeccable children. His worth and stature in society were determined by this. Love and fidelity were never part of the equation.
The idea of marriage changed during the Roman pre-Christian era. It became a business agreement amongst families. The union (marriage) between two children from different families were negotiated and agreed upon as a way to transfer rights, wealth, and possessions.
These arranged marriages were a guiding principle in western culture until the recent past.
The third century B.C. philosophers Plato and Aristotle helped mold in the sacral status of marriage. It was not just an agreement with two families; it was a lifelong agreement with God. Intercourse is no longer just an act of pleasure. Words like ‘purity’ and ‘fidelity’ are added, creating complexity around women’s status in society. The woman is both the pure, dignified carrier of lineage and the temptress enticing men with their lustful wiles. She is “Ying & Yan”, mother and prostitute.
This thought keeps women inferior to men because women are but a well-selected, agreed-upon vehicle for his future generation and, as everybody believed, does not have the intellectual, mental or emotional capability to argue her status. Even in European royal marriages, women were props as families got married to each other to gain prestige, possessions, a way to guarantee peace and create a stable society.
While legacy was for stability and morality was for purity, the marriage certificate was all business. It is the legal contract that rules divorce. The document is not about the pure love union of two lives but the potential divorce, the termination of that union in the eyes of God.
Religion has a huge part to play in this entire concept of marriage. Religion has been used to begin marriages, end marriages, and prevent marriages. Christianity and Islamism are birthed out of Judaism, which is why many of the marriage traditions look the same today. Marriage has great value for the monotheism (one God) religions. In each of these religions’ sacred texts, we can find that marriage is more of a business venture than a love experience.
Marriage in the Jewish Era
The only love story between two people in the Bible is Rachel and Jacob. During their time, a man used to marry a woman from his family. The story recounts Rebekah advising her son, Jacob, to move to her brother’s land and to get married to his daughter. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, agreed that Jacob would work for seven years to get the right to marry Rachel. At the end of the seven years, Leah, the older sister, was still single, so Laban decided that she should get married to Jacob first. Naturally, Jacob was upset but agreed to work another seven years to be able to get married to Rachel, his true love.
Leah gave Jacob his first child. Later, she becomes barren, allowing him to have sexual intercourse with her slave. After Jacob and Rachel got married, she was found sterile, so she also gave him her slave to bear children. The law affirmed that the children of a woman’s slave became her children by right because the slave was considered property. Eventually, Rachel had two children of her own.
Both these marriages were arranged marriages. The stability of society during this historical era came from the idea to get married inside the same family. The woman’s worth solely lied in her ability to produce a lineage. When Leah and Rachel were not able to get pregnant it was their duty to give their slaves to Jacob to ensure his lineage. Sexual intercourse with other women was not a problem. But it had to be the slave from the official wife. This was not considered adultery, because the slave’s children were not bastards they were legitimate children of the owner. Nowadays, we could compare this kind of midset, very roughly, with open relationships.
Marriage in the Christian Era
The followers of Christ were a free movement without institutional characteristics. These people were pursued because they were seen as a threat. By calling Jesus ‘Lord’, they were fighting against the patriarchal system of Cesar’s rule. Despite attacks, the Roman Empire could not stop its’ growth. Seeing this group’s strength and influence, Emperor Constantine created a new religion: Christianity. He merged customs, philosophies and other Greco-Roman ideologies to form this new religion.
The Catholic Church was born. Its doctrines reinforced the idea of women being inferior to men. Evil came from the woman, as Eve was the original sinner who tempted Adam. Part of this doctrine was to prohibit priests and nuns from getting married. Since 4 AD, the Catholic Church prohibited Christians to marry Jews. In the 12th Century, marriage became a sacrament, a religious ceremony that imparted divine grace. Around the same time, the worship of Mary as a mediator between God and people started. This worship was based on the Greek-Roman liturgy of the goddess of fertility.
The Church started documenting these unities and marriage became an institution of social control orchestrated by the Catholic Church. Without the church’s blessing, the marriage was not legal or recognized. If a couple practiced pre-marital intercourse, the consequences inflicted upon them by the church and the community were very severe.
The 16th century is marked by the Council of Trent, formed as a counter-reformation against Protestantism. The revision of the Roman Catholic doctrine that occurred during this period became the guide that influenced the modern-day mindset. After the Council of Trent, women’s status improved, and she became the guardian of Christianity. The church even developed an educational program to teach the woman how to be a perfect wife. Some of the teachings may sound familiar:
- Before marriage, the woman belongs to her father.
- In marriage, the woman belongs to her husband and is totally devoted to her children.
- She is primarily responsible for the well-being, success, and prosperity of her family.
Marriage became an institution to control sexual and physical desires and its only ultimate goal was to procreate.
Marriage in the Arab culture
Marriage in the Arabic culture follows the customs of the Arabic Peninsula where there are many similarities to the Jewish customs. It is mandatory for a man to get married–a thought which remains today. He can get married at a very young age. And it is dishonorable if he is not married by the age of 30. In fact, he is not considered a ‘real’ man until he is married.
When an Arab man falls in love with a woman, he asks his mother to make contact with the family of the woman he loves. Mothers are responsible for these negotiations. And, as we have seen before, barren women are frowned upon and a home with no children has no honor.
The Simple Truth
It didn’t take long for humans to turn love into a business. In order to find and sustain modern love, you have to understand its’ origin to best negotiate the terms of your love agreement. This may feel like an insensitive reality, but it is a reality nonetheless. It is possible to find the business mindset amongst these three cultures: Jewish, Christian and Arabic. Since this ancient mindset remained until the 21st century, we can see it infused in our interactions today: official lineage, agreement amongst families, women’s possession and bodily control.
Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” centered around the changing mindset of society towards a more accepting attitude of the ‘love’ concept. And, while love is part of modern society, it is still tertiary to legacy and morality. Couples still fight to become ‘power couples’ with faithful marriages relationships, prosperous lives, and amazing children.
While sitting in a love coaching session with me, it may be difficult to understand thinking of love as a business transaction. But if you know how to run that business successfully, you will see the evidence of love in your life for generations to come.
I am the CEO of my love life. I can readjust my policies to achieve my love goals. I choose who I hire, suspend and fire in my life. I will make always make the best decisions to ensure love succeeds.