Lady Chatterly argues that love complements people who are already whole
The first time I saw Cameron Crowe’s film Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise utters those famous words “You complete me,” I’ll admit that I (along with most of the female population) swooned. I was young, single, and idealistic. To me, those words described exactly how I thought love should be: finding that special person, who completes you. Who makes you feel “whole.”
A few weeks ago, channel surfing late at night while battling insomnia, I landed on Jerry Maguire and watched it through to the end. It was the first time I’d seen it in years and certainly the first time I’d watched it since getting married. When Tom Cruise uttered those iconic words the second time, I didn’t swoon. Not at all.
It’s hard to deny that the expression “You complete me” is poetic and romantic. The stuff romantic comedies are made of. And yet, as I sat reflecting on the film in the quiet early hours of the morning, I realized that I felt very differently about my own relationship. You see, my husband doesn’t complete me. I wasn’t wandering around with a piece of myself missing until he came into my life. Without him, I would still be a “whole” person. We complement but also do not complete one another.
The idea of being half of one whole can be traced back to Greek Mythology. In his text Symposium, Plato writes “… humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves…” He adds: “Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.”
As fiercely romantic as this sounds, truthfully, I don’t think it would be fair to expect my husband to complete me. This concept implies a neediness. A reliance. A dependence. The idea of not being fully formed without the presence, or indeed the existence of another.
And yet this notion of romantic completion isn’t just in films or love songs. I’ve often heard people talking about their partners in a similar manner, about being two halves of a whole. Of finding their missing piece. And yet I wonder if, on reflection, people actually do hold this belief or rather, whether they’ve simply bought into this romantic idealization sold to us by movies such as Jerry Maguire. For while it sounds romantic and lovely in theory, it’s perhaps a little odd, dare I say scary, when you think more realistically about what this actually means. To be completed. To need completing.
My husband and I pride ourselves on our independence. We have our own passions and careers and friends. We are two whole people who enjoyed full and satisfying lives before we met, but for whom life is enriched and fun when we’re in it together. I believe the fact that we both possess a solid sense of self, that we know who we are as individuals and what we value and aspire to outside of our marriage as well as within in, is part of what makes us so strong. So resilient.
I adore my husband. He adores me. Challenges me. Irritates me. Teases me. Supports me. Accompanies me lovingly and expertly as we jointly navigate the pain and joy and messiness of being human. But he doesn’t complete me. And I’m okay with that.
What do you think? Does your partner complete you?
image credit: Flickr/musapix