THE FIFTH LOVE
This essay is dedicated to the two people that made it possible: C.S. Lewis, the author of The Four Loves, who gave me the inspiration, and my wife, who gave me the reality of true-love shared. Only through her have I been able to begin to comprehend the wonder of love. One can never unravel the weave or touch the very fabric of love, but the closer we get, the more wonders it reveals to us, and the more we have to share.
The Four Loves, was written by C.S. Lewis because he yearned to understand man’s greatest gift. He begins by describing how he struggled in its writing and why it was so difficult. He attempted to dissect and explain love in its basic forms. In doing so he placed all love’s components into four different pots; Passion, Eros, Friendship, and Charity. He looked closely at each and how they differed. Yet in doing so he missed an important pot. Why? Because he found love late in his life and did not have the time to mature within it. This is the essay C.S. Lewis didn’t have time to write.
Anyone who has attempted to decipher love appreciates why Mr. Lewis struggled so hard to define love. Furthermore, those who have been fortunate enough to have experienced or are experiencing the intensity of true love, and have tried to fathom its complexity, have an even deeper appreciation of how onerous his task was and why Lewis himself found it so formidable.
This essay was spawned by the words and thoughts of C.S. Lewis, builds upon, expands, and fills in what I believe is an important gap. My guess is that Mr. Lewis saw and felt the missing piece, but did not quite master his understanding of a fifth love. In reading The Four Loves, I believe Mr. Lewis was unable to grasp the genesis and intensity of the fifth pot of love, but did perceived pieces of it. And he simply fit those pieces into his four pots. More on that later.
I’m betting that in his love of his wife Joy, he indeed felt the power of a fifth love yet simply did not have ample time to absorb and comprehend it. True love takes maturity within its complexly woven fabric to fathom all the threads and knots. I believe he must have felt it, but missed the mark in understanding the genesis of some of those threads, and where they belonged, because he did not give enough credit to the emotions of man to allow us ownership of such a powerful energy.
How I wish I could sit and talk with him. How I wish we could uncover together a deeper understanding of this gift. To spend hours and days in forging a sculpture of love that could be more clearly viewed and understood. I believe that working together he might even produced on paper what Rodin did in stone.
C.S. Lewis said, “Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.” He sure got that right. The irony of love is that it is for the vast majority of us the most important aspect of living—of happiness, and many don’t know it. Love of children, family, spouse, friends, music, literature, the arts, represents our true happiness. In all of those our happiness is love, different though they are. Yet love is the least discussed, least understood, and least thought about aspect of our lives. Why?
There are perhaps five good reasons why we do not talk about love, especially love of spouse. First, there’s embarrassment. It’s a very private thing, sort of like sex. Can you see yourself having lunch at work with your boss and coworkers sitting around discussing the love you share with your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend? And we generally don’t talk about sex at all. Clergy will talk about love of God from the pulpit all the time, but I doubt many of them often discuss the details of loving a spouse. Sex seems to be everywhere, but as pure pleasure or control, not in its true purpose of loving. Sex is to be celebrated in loving, not exploited in commerce. The sad thing is that its exploitation had seriously marred the true value of sex, for it seem associated with everything but its true value. We don’t hesitate to talk about that great restaurant with a fantastic fillet, but we keep sex so private we’re afraid to talk about it even with our spouse.
Second, love is far too complex to grasp easily or to put into simple words. How do you describe intensity? Also, because many don’t share intense emotional love, let alone linked with sexual sharing, they can’t talk about it, and may never know it can be.
Third, love is different for each of us. The difference isn’t so much in what love is, but in the intensity and how shared. Lots of people love music and for the same reasons, but how we react to the emotion it conveys is unique to each one of us, as is the intensity. We may not want to talk about loving because we don’t want to think we have less than someone else, when in reality there is no “better” level. It’s not like octane in gasoline. What’s important is that it’s the right amount for the couple. The disparity between individuals becomes significant only when one spouse loves with great intensity and intimacy and the other is a casual, less intimate love.
A fourth reason we don’t often discuss love is because mutual, deep love is so difficult to obtain, so why spend time talking about a dream we don’t have. Why dream of winning the lottery when it won’t happen?
Lastly, love is both innate and learned. Love of parents and children is simply inculcated, while love of spouse is learned. It can’t be taught from books, it can’t be taught by a great instructor of love, it can only be learned through experiencing it and growing within it—by weaving your own fabric. Hence the problem. It is such a difficult thing to find, and often when it is there in front of us we are afraid to experience it or grow within it. Also, in giving intense intimate love the mistaken feeling of vulnerability creeps or storms in. None of us like feeling defenseless or exposed. But what we should understand is that love is neither. Love is not an assault, and it is not a disclosure of your frailties. It is the exact opposite. It is a celebration and sharing of feelings and intimacy, yet because we don’t realize it we often remain afraid. Afraid even to talk about it. We can be offered the perfect gift from our spouse and not even see it. We won’t drop our guard and immerse ourselves in the wondrous happiness of shared perfection. It’s not unusual to see a couple where one partner seems unapproachable and the other full of emotion? Could it be because one is afraid? What would happen if they talked about it?
Keeping our emotions within leaves us searching for something that we can’t, won’t, or are afraid to discuss or learn about. How then do we expect to succeed in that search for happiness?
The answer is really quite simple. Most of us “hope” it happens. We hope that we find that special happiness called love. We haven’t weighed or measured what we are looking for, we just call it happiness. We have so many chores of life, we have little time to figure out love. We don’t stop wanting it, we just stop using the word or defining happiness in terms of love. It’s there in the back of our mind, we just don’t bring it forward enough. Then again, some of us give up completely and even block any chance of it happening, intentionally or unintentionally. Fishing, cars, movies, friends, hobbies, work, all clutter our mind and crowd out what really matters. Logical? No. Reality? Yes.
Not all love is difficult to find. Love of music or the arts is easy. To leave out God in a discussion on love would be incomplete, because for many it is the strongest love they have. Because Divine love is so different, understanding the dissimilarity is helpful whether or not one believes in God. Love of God is always open. It’s there in a person’s homes or walking into a church. There are few barriers to loving music or God. Love of another person however, takes two people. Thus, it is more complex and difficult for we alone don’t control our emotions, thoughts, or love. It is not a private thing like music or God. Love of another person is by definition a shared emotion, a two-way affair. A one-way love is doomed for it is traveling the wrong way down a one way street.
We search for love before we even understand it, or can understand it. We act on little substantive knowledge, or worse, with an arrogance that we know it all. We assume rather than scrutinized, and concluded instead of discussed. We should listen, assess, discuss, work to formulate a model of love. It takes many mistakes and chipping away at ignorance to learn enough to hopefully realize we do need to understand and think about such an emotion.
In my particular case I began putting my questions, thoughts, and my answers on paper. As a single parent raising an infant, home was where I wanted to be and I had time to wonder and think. After I placed that precious little baby boy in his crib, I found my mind needing answers. I began to dissect and pull apart the emotion of love, tried to understand myself, my relationship with myself, what interpersonal relationships were, and what love was. I read, assessed, and wrote all I could. The potential realization of love in all that it could be caused me to want to close the book on wonder and dreams, by trying to understand what love was.
In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes what he felt as well as what he believed. I believe the reason he missed the Fifth Love was not because he didn’t feel it, but because he didn’t have time to understand it, or was afraid to. If only perhaps because it wasn’t vogue at the time. Either that, or he just didn’t give enough credit to his own emotion.
Much of what is described in The Fifth Love, is not new or unique. And some of it will seem, and is, a restructuring of C.S. Lewis’s thoughts. The disparity between The Four Loves, and The Fifth Love lies in how Mr. Lewis proportioned the emotions of love, and what drives the emotions. This is in part due to the change in concepts and society between his day and ours.
The Four Loves, does a wonderful job toward understanding the components of love. But what’s missing is important. I believe that had he had more time to grow within the love he shared with his wife, he would have felt the fifth love. His dissection was deep and quite thorough, but his life with Joy as his wife was just to short for him to ponder its wonders and understand them.
Why is it so hard to comprehend love or fathom the depth of emotions? Part of the blame lies with tradition. Through no fault of our own good and bad tradition is learned. What we see as children has a very powerful influence on our conscious and our subconscious thought. It helped mold much of who we are, from our perspective of what is right and wrong, acceptable and non-acceptable, down to the core of our personality. Our conduct as a child and an adult is driven by that tradition. Sadly, the negatives seem to outweigh, or at least out shine the positive. Thus, the world seems full of the contemptuous, the complaining, the depressed, and the wrong.
A sad truth is that we are often too much a product of our history. Since so much of routine history bears on the negative, it can be the worst of all teachers. What beauty, positive, and love that does exist around us, we either don’t feel, see, sense, or own, or if we do, it is beaten back by the negative. How many headlines do you read about “love” or just the positive?
How often do we talk of the negative? How much violence, anger, and atrocities do you read in the paper or hear on television? How much of the pulpit is negative? How many of us poke fun at a coworker or fellow student, and maybe because they are always happy and smiling? Worst of all is the negative at home.
We have become so stained with the juice of the down-berry bush that the negative permanently stains our soul—how sad. Most of us have the ability to focus on the positive if we chose. But it is not always easy. We must use the intellect and reasoning that is within, and put it to work for us. If we do, we would soon see how unjust history has been and how wrong we were to use it as our foundation for thought. Thinking things through is an effort. But the results are wondrous. Yet so many chose to let their minds merely atrophy, using history as a sad excuse for our deficiencies.
We must be bright enough to recognize that our damaging tradition needs understanding and correction. We must change, if not overcome that which is negative, and in doing so assume a more critical attitude about ourselves. Not critical in the negative sense, but critical about the negative. We must take the responsibility to shape our lives according to a conscious and positive goal. It ofttimes takes a lot of energy—think energy, and thus is just to much trouble. We might even smile back at the smiling weirdo.
What is the one thing that can ennoble man’s life and can move it out of a sphere of mere physical existence and into individual freedom and growth? What is the one thing that can set us apart from the average individual? What is it about the “Great” people of the past and present that awards them such a title? What is that one thing that can propel us to the front of the line in life’s happiness? The answer is simple, maybe too simple to believe or truly understand, but it is true. The one thing that can ennoble man’s life, is thought, simply how you think.
Before shaking a skeptical head—listen. What is the common term used for history’s great men and women? “Thinkers.” There’s even a great statue to honor that. But don’t we all think? Sure, but thinking at work is not the context of a thinker’s thinking. A thinker does one thing different. A thinker dwells, asks, considers, contemplates and analyzes until an answer is found, something most of us do not do concerning happiness, life, or love. What dwelling we do is often on the negative, the pain, the anger, and the excuse of history. That is why we have lots of terms for those people including, the depressed, forlorn, disgruntled, despondent, downcast, moody, and on and on. My favorite is woebegone. The reason I like woebegone is because it is a negative word of positive direction and goal. It screams out, “woe, be gone”. Sort of like, “Out damn spot.” It pleads for happiness over sadness by telling us to kick the negative out on its ass. If any negative word is positive, woebegone is it. It is a positive word trying to raise the downcast by providing a solution.
Thinkers stand out only because they dwell on understanding and don’t give up, even when the answer isn’t found. They direct the energy of their minds to create new, from old. When Einstein dwelled on physics, what was the result? He created new from old. He took existing theories and ideas, brought them together, combined them in his mind and created. From within his mind’s eye he engendered something different. He envisioned what was never before seen by anyone, he formulated with imagination, and fashioned something completely new. The old, spawned the new, merely through dwelling and thinking.
Whether it’s physics, mathematics, misery or what you and I want, happiness, all can be dwelled upon, and all can grow. Einstein knew the direction he wished to pursue, and he did so with vigor. There lies the difference. Those that we call depressed, miserable, moody, and unhappy direct their minds in the wrong direction. The problem is that more often than not they do not realize that they choose the direction, or that they can change it. Because unhappiness carries more weight for most of us than happiness, the scale is tilted in the direction of the negative. The same is true for emotions. Depression is heavier than happiness, hate can overpower love, and jealousy can stamp out trust, simply because they hurt more.
No wonder it is so hard to understand or dwell on love. Add to that the mere energy it takes to do real thinking and for most, intense love is just out the window. It may be right there within close reach, but because of the difficulty in opening the shutters and seeing it, and the energy to “think” about it, it may as well be completely out of reach, and there it remains.
C.S. Lewis tried to tell us that in understanding love, we can open those shutters and embrace it. He showed us his four loves with hope that perhaps in better understanding love, we might embrace it.
Many believe that the deepest of loves, is love of God. For those individuals spiritual love is the pinnacle of their ability to love. Yet, at the risk of being tagged hypocritical, I believe that such is true only because those same people simply do not understand intense human love. I say that not in disrespect or to politely indicate a level of stupidity on their part, on the contrary. I say it in the light of great respect, and perhaps even with some envy, for spiritual love is much easer for it takes only one.
There is no anti-smoker like an ex-smoker, and there is no Christian like a born-again Christian. Why? Because a Christian that was never a doubter, cannot fully identify with or appreciate what it is like to live with a lack of faith. It’s darn scary. The born-again Christian simply has tools and expertise that the always Christian doesn’t have.
Spiritual love is chaste. Loving God can only be chaste because we cannot see or touch God or even comprehend heaven. Love of God is based solely in the mind, solely in thought. It is possessed within, and shared only within. You need no external stimulus for divine love. The church is there to give you a physical environment in which to express and enhance divine love of God, but it is unnecessary. There is no way to share physically, no need, and no desire.
Faith, like love, cannot be controlled. Good and bad are a product of free will, no question. We choose our actions. C.S. Lewis belonged to the list of unfaithful for a long time. Apparently his faith came while on a motorcycle heading toward town. A most unlikely place, but where does it say that it’s supposed to happen in church?
So what does this all have to do with love? A great deal. It is necessary to understand what divine love is and isn’t if one is to comprehend the depth of a fifth love. Why? Because I believe we give divine love the credit it deserves, but we are all too afraid to give human love as much as it deserves. There is a stigma concerning loving someone “Too” much, while no such stigma exists in loving God. In fact, no matter how much you love God, we are taught that it is simply not enough, especially when we think about how much he loves us. What our teachers forget is that we are human beings, not gods. More on that later.
In many ways the fifth love is the opposite of divine love, yet it encompasses the same attributes that relate to loving intensity. Love of God and love of another human being are at opposite ends of the spectrum yet use the same emotions. Which is more difficult, which takes more energy, and which is more complex? Love of another person. That statement can be quite damming if misunderstood. I did not say that love of God is subordinate to human love.
Why is love of God less complex? Because you don’t need fact, interaction, or the physical body to love God, you only require faith and desire. Love of God has fewer conflicts (if any at all) than love of a person. There certainly are no physical conflicts and there are no unfulfilled physical needs.
Love is unique to the individual and circumstance. Factors of love such as thought, emotion, drive, and the physical, all impact how, why, and level of loving—in all five loves, and love of a human and love of God do not use the same things or require the same emotions and understanding.
I have avoided thus far placing a single descriptor/name on the fifth love because it difficult to find a label. It pulls from the four loves described by Lewis and it is the combination that makes it unique. The combination of emotional and physical factors married into a union that merges what seem so separate. Emotions are not physical, though they can produce physical responses. On the same token the physical is not emotional, yet the physical drive emotions. If there is a word that has both physical and emotional connotations to it, then it’s the tag I would give the fifth love.
It is not passion, though it has deep passion. It is not lust, though it has powerful lust. It is not divine simply by definition, but it has the same traits of intensity. It is not the friendship that Lewis discusses, yet it’s foundation is friendship and trust. Certainly it contains the Eros he talks about. It is not the charity he so wonderfully describes, yet so much of that charity is required. The fifth love possesses traits and characteristics of all four of C.S. Lewis’s four loves. So is it really a fifth type of love? Absolutely. Because none of the four have such drivers, thus none of the four are as complex. Consequently, none of the four can describe it.
If I had to put a label on it, the only word I could come up with was “Unification.” A word that symbolizes the assimilation of all that we are, emotionally and physically, into an alliance with another.
Although I hesitate to regress, I need to go back to divine love to contrast an important difference between love of God and love for a spouse. I use the word spouse out of choice. I simply mean the love shared between a man and woman. In addition, spouse adds commitment and dedication that I believe adds measurably to love. I believe the marriage is a bonus.
To reiterate, Divine love is solely based within thought and emotion. It has no connection to the physical world, other than perhaps a place within which to practice that love, a church or synagogue. Divine love has little or no physical premise. A very significant difference is that It is not based on a foundation of a one-on-one physical relationship with God. It involves no touch, talk, tears, smiles, or pain shared physically. The key word is shared. It offers no physical bounds to loving, it makes no physical connection, it brings on no physical pleasure, and it involves no physical union (other than the receiving of communion). Divine love does not involve an exchange of ideas, desires, needs, humor, words, pleasures, touch, or intellect directly with God. There is no physioemotional bond.
I know, there is no such word as physioemotional—not until now. Whether or not it is ever used again matters not. For this essay it simply means the union of the physical and the emotional, each driven by the other, and happening within two individuals in love. It is a unification of the totality of two people. I do not mean a trance for it’s not a stupor, hypnosis, or a dazed intellect. In fact, it means the opposite. It means a heightened intellect that is aware of thought, emotion, and touch, each building upon the other. To sound strange, a physioemotional unification.
We all experience physioemotional reactions. Tears of love or sadness, laughter, slamming a fist on a table because something tragic happened. These are all physical and emotional reactions combined. The fifth love is this physioemotional union. It is the emotion of love given and received at the same time tears are shed.
The fifth love combines the deepest emotional love with the deepest intimacy of the physical body, in an intense sharing that all but becomes a single union of two individuals. A union deep and complex. It is the most complex of loves because it embodies intensity of thought and touch, the mind and body together. The complexity comes in understanding how one drives the other and which is in control at what moment. There is an emotional physicality that results only from such a union. What is experienced can only be through that union. It is not possible by any other means. It is the true pinnacle of human love shared.
A difficult aspect in discussing the fifth love, the unification, is in politely describing the genesis of the emotional physicality that results. This is because of the bounds that exist in any discussion of sexuality. For many, any discussion of the emotion of desire in sexuality and the physical aspects of sexual sharing, is pornographic. Yet that is the farthest from the truth. There is nothing pornographic or lewd in discussing the sharing of the intimacies of the male and female body in terms of using the body to express love. The expression of emotional love through sexuality is as perfect a sharing as the human being is capable.
We have thought and emotion, and we have our physical body with its sexuality. We weren’t designed with sexuality as an aside or an accident. We cover our bodies for good reason, but it seems that in doing so some come to believe that we should only uncover them with another for the purpose of procreation, not love or pleasure. And when it’s pleasurable, great, but don’t admit or talk about it—how silly. One religion uses scripture to show us that sexual love should only take place in the dark. Since intercourse with clothes on is quite impossible, I suppose darkness is the clothing that can’t be worn. Sadly, as we are taught to keep our bodies covered, so too are we taught to conceal our emotions.
Without a doubt, pornography is a societal curse, but it’s simply a shame that discussions of sexuality as an expression of love becomes tainted or even thrown into the bowels of filth. How does one discuss the role and intensity of sharing our sexuality without talking about the sex that is shared? I shall try.
As more and more physical and emotional ingredients are tossed into the soup of love, it becomes tastier and tastier, more and more intense, and of greater and greater meaning. Chicken broth is great for the cold, but toss in some rice, celery, green and red peppers, chunks of chicken, salt and pepper, and it is much better. Now throw in some shrimp, chunks of lobster, more seasoning, some Italian sausage, onions, carrots, corn, tomato, thicken it up, and gads, we have a gourmet meal. That’s the fifth love. Gourmet love at its finest. As the ingredients of love increase, so too does the drive for greater physical expression/sharing of love, the desire for it, and the intensity of the sharing. The caloric content of love shared skyrockets.
Are there bounds to sexual sharing? Sure. The bounds are determined by the two sharing. By definition love means that the physical expression is desired. It means that two people sharing their bodies in love, honor each other in the giving and receiving of their physical being. No boundary should ever be crossed arbitrarily by another. When it does, love changes into lust, honor to dishonor, and considerate to selfishness. When that happens, love itself is altered and threatened.
Lewis hit on it but just didn’t go far enough. He said, “As for erotic love, I can imagine nothing more disagreeable than to experience it for more than a very short time without this homespun clothing of affection. That would be either too angelic or too animal or each by turn: never quite great enough or little enough for man.”
Reread those two sentences slowly. He said so much. How I wish he hadn’t stopped there. If only he would have taken it on to its culmination. Had he, he would have gone on to unite physical sharing with the emotional sharing. He recognized the difference between sex as sex, and sex with love when he said that without homespun clothing of affection (love), it would be disagreeable. Then in the same context of erotic love he said it “. . .Would be either too angelic or too animal or each by turn: never quite great enough or little enough for man.” Yes, Eros is meant to be angelic. And of love, I must agree, never quite great enough. In love, no matter the intensity, greater intensity is desired and sought after with every fiber of who and what we are.
In discussing love Lewis says, “If one who was first, in the deep and full sense, your friend, is then gradually or suddenly revealed as also your lover, you will certainly not want to share the Beloved’s erotic love with any third. But you will have no jealousy at all about sharing the friendship. Nothing so enriches an erotic love as the discovery that the beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into friendship with the friends you already had: to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love, but we three or four or five are all travelers on the same quest, have all a common vision.”
When Eros and friendship combine, a glorious and honorable state of affairs is reached. There is dignity in its sharing, and in the awareness by other friends that it is shared. There is pride by the owners and joy from the friends. There is something noble about knowing that two friends are so closely consummate. Though the thoughts of intense Eros shared through love and friendship are there, never do those thoughts from friends appear pornographic. They appear, and are, expressions of the union of the fifth love.
This is perhaps the most unique aspect of friendship. It seem that friendship is simply a powerful barrier, not only to jealousy, but to the obscene, the vulgar, the indecent. Eros, as it should be, is not offensive, but instead, honored.
Mr. Lewis said something obvious yet profound. His words, “Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities,” could not be better said. In the fifth love what you have is a union of those two. When it happens, it isn’t merely twice as great, it is a thousand orders of magnitude greater. When it happens, the two people sharing become indistinguishable because they become one.
One more quote from Lewis. “There is indeed a peculiar charm . . . both in friendship and in Eros, about those moments when appreciative love lies, as it were, curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship (free as solitude, yet neither is alone) wraps us round. No need to talk. No need to make love. No needs at all except perhaps to stir the fire.” How perfectly said by Lewis. It’s akin to cuddling.
Mr. Lewis saw both sides of a coin, understood their deferring complexities, and did it so well that you were sometimes unaware of which side he really believed in. His understanding could make one wonder if just maybe he believed something unpopular but he was not wishing to acknowledge it. What better way to get across the concepts than to play the devil’s advocate.
I believe Mr. Lewis felt that there was missing in his essay something that he was not fully aware of. In discussing Eros it was necessary for him to reveal his own moral views. Of this problem, he said, “Hitherto I have been trying merely to describe, not to evaluate. But certain moral questions now inevitably arise, and I must not conceal my own view of them. It is submitted rather than asserted, and of course open to correction by better men, better lovers, and better Christians.”
This is powerful declaration of question. It is a mature statement by a wise man that he is subject to error, omission, and in search of additional thought. In that statement he is telling us that he doesn’t have all the answers and that he doesn’t proposed to understand all there is about love. He admits that there are better lovers than him, yet I doubt that there are better men or Christians even though he say such—but that is the topic of another essay.
Early theologians were obsessed with morality, and for good reason—there often seemed little in existence. They were the first to shroud Eros and put clothes on sexuality. Their intent was admirable, but the result was devastating and remains with us today. They went so far as to say that in marriage we must take care not to surrender our souls to carnal senses. Wrong! They were placing clothes on the married naked, limiting emotions, and turning love into lust. They were ashamed of a gift. They took perfection and made it sinful. Yet I understand why. What a mistake, and what damage. I wonder what Mr. Lewis would say about it?
Discussing what takes place in the union of mental and physical experiences in sharing love can only be inadequate under the best conditions. Why? Simply because trying to describe emotional feelings using words is for all practical purposes impossible. Even if words did exist they could describe the experience for the union would be completely different for each individual. There would however be similarities, and it is those similarities that I will explore here even knowing that the most to be expected is some similarities of your thought and mine.
Every second of every waking moment we are the result of our mental and physical union. We feel the existence of our body, we touch things, lick our lips, burp, smell, and function wonderfully withing the body given us. We talk to ourselves, or perhaps think to ourselves, and we feel emotions. The physical body of ours is one with our thoughts, they exist together in perfect union. Because that union has been in effect from the moment of our birth, no thought is given to it. The mechanics are merely second nature and the result is what gives us our unique personalities. The only time we are aware of the interaction is when something out of the norm is taking place and our reaction moves out of the normal parameters.
An example is anger. When we get angry we may want to scream or strike out. Depression is another. Counseling is primarily to help a person deal with out of norm unions of the mental and physical us. Through counseling we can better understanding what is happening within our mind and perhaps learn to adjust our thinking and control the physical response, be that anger or depression.
Deep love is the culmination of the best of the physical joined with the best of the emotional. When it happens, our mind and our body move into a loop with each feeding upon the other and growing as a consequence.
Foreplay is no more than the beginning of that loop. It is like a race car preparing for competition. It sits on the circular track, revs its engine, pops the clutch and moves down the track picking up speed as it circles. Foreplay is the revving of our love engine on the circular course of loving and being loved. It’s too bad it’s called foreplay. It should be called, forelove, for it is so much more than play.
Some individuals find it hard to join the emotional and physical in terms of love. Many feel that sex is sex. Sex is just an animal urge no different than that of cats or horses. They believe that when two people are in the throws of sex they are simply performing animal functions. These same people don’t think that it is wrong or bad, in fact they probably think it is really great. But still, it is simply sex. Two bodies joined in mutual carnal pleasure.
None of what they think is wrong. What is wrong is their premise that they can go no further. They are convinced that it is mere pleasure and no more. What a mistake. Because they can’t see beyond the sex, they believe that no one can. It is prejudice no different from any other. They have simply placed self imposed limits on love. If you are one of these individuals, the rest of what is said will doubtfully have meaning. If one can just open one’s mind and know that limits are not universal, then just maybe a part of those limits can be removed.
Prejudice is not gender based. A wife or a husband may be accused of wanting too much sex. Yes, there surely are those that just want the sex, but that is not the concern here. Unfortunately, a strong and consistent desire to give and receive love can be looked at as just wanting sex. A husband or wife may simply have a strong need and desire to love their spouse—a strong desire to “Love,” not have sex. But that love means touching, holding, kissing, closeness, and sex, for thoughts alone aren’t enough and can’t be felt by the partner. It can be too much when needs differ. A wonderful need to love can be interpreted as an insatiable desire to have sex. It is easy to tell the difference, for sex is generally quick, purely physical, and when it’s over, it’s over, with no desire to stay wrapped up in each other’s arms, touch, kiss, and share love.
Let’s talk about a simple union of emotional and physical loving before attempting to see the big picture. To better understand what I mean by union, let’s contrast the same situation, one without a union of emotions and body, and one with it.
Let’s take a simple evening with our spouse. We share the same space—the kitchen, livingroom, and bedroom. We sit across the table at dinner and chat. When the union is there, we look at our spouse and we don’t see merely a separate individual. We talk not to just a person, but to a part of us. Our mind is not occupied only with the topic, but with a feeling. That feeling, though very real, may be subordinate to the topic, but it floats back there nonetheless. Our mind will shift from the topic of discussion to a feeling of love for that person. We may look at their hair and think how lovely it is, we may watch their lips move and wish we could touch them. We don’t concentrate on such thoughts and desires, but they slip in now and then. During the conversation we may simply say, “I love you.”
The common denominator is that more is going on in your mind then talk of work, flowers, tomorrow’s schedule, or what you’re eating for dinner. Sure, 99% may be, but that underlying “feeling” is there even when it goes unnoticed.
Contrast the above with the same situation without the union. You sit at the table and chat about the work, flowers, tomorrow’s schedule, etc., and that is all that is going on regarding that person. Your mind may be on totally other topics, but one topic it is not on is care and love toward that person. The background music in your mind is not love, but your stupid boss, chores, complaints, dissatisfaction, going fishing, meeting friends for a drink, or simply blank.
Let’s continue. It is time for bed. You brush your teeth, climb in the sack, and next to you is your spouse. Without the union, one of you reaches over to kiss the other, you kiss, say goodnight, may even spout the words, “I love you,” and the light is turned off. You close your eyes and go to sleep. Is there anything wrong with that, no, for that may simply represent the limit for those individuals. They may be quite happy and get along wonderfully.
Back to the union. Whomever hits the bathroom sink first puts toothpaste on the other’s toothbrush. You look at each other while getting ready for bed, chat, and “feel.” You may not feel overwhelming love that sweeps you off your feet at that very moment, but you do feel, no matter how little, and it may be hidden. You climb in bed, turn to look at your spouse, or turn on your side and cuddle up to him/her. You perhaps chat about anything but again you “feel” the connection. You can’t possibly not say, “I love you.” The words aren’t important, the feeling is. You feel a swelling in your chest, moisture in your eyes. You may take a finger and stroke his/her forehead to touch their skin, a needed connection. You gently kiss their lips or cheek and emotions well up inside you, emotions of love. Although you have told them a million times you love them, it is as important for you at that moment as it was the first time, and you say it again. You lie there touching bodies and emotions.
With the union, you experience and share mind and body, emotion and touch. Without the union, you share space, no more. Without the union, the obligatory kiss is not physical sharing, it is a requirement, but again, both individuals can be and often are happy. Sadly, one may be happy while the other desires so much more.
With the comparison in mind we are ready to finally look at the core of the fifth love. The fifth love is a unification of all the emotions of love with all the physical sharing of the body, between two people. It is an intense desire to love and be loved. It is an intense desire to give all and have all. It is a desire to share everything within our emotions, with all of our physical senses, with the person we love. It is an overwhelming desire to see, touch, taste, smell, hear and feel all that they are while feeling their emotions merge with ours. It is a union of emotions, love, passion, sex, lust, masculinity, and femininity. It is a desire to give everything in your mind and all of your body, while absorbing all of their emotions and all of their body. The love and passion feed on each other in a frenzy. You want to know all, see all, feel all, take all, give all, experience the intensity of all that you are, with all that they are.
Sexual intercourse becomes physioemotional intercourse. It becomes a bonding, a sharing, a giving, a receiving, and most importantly, a “union.” Your emotions and bodies flow into one another. You want to share the smells, tastes, touches. You want to know the most intimate of feelings. You want to experience a total joining of body and emotion. You want to crawl inside their mind and inside their body. No way of touching is embarrassing, in fact, all ways become intensely desired. Each simply wants to consume and become one emotionally and physically with the other.
Time disappears. If it is a factor at all, they want to slow it down. There is no rush to climax, in fact, it is pushed aside in favor of the experience of sharing.
The sharing can be so deeply emotional that tears of love become part of touches, words, and emotions. Tears can usher in and accompany an orgasm. Afterwards, there is an intense desire to wrap up in each other. They want to clothe themselves in their naked spouse, to pull them in and absorb the emotions and passion of the intense sharing that took place moments ago. They don’t want to roll over and go to sleep, they want to hold tighter, kiss more, feel more, smell and taste more. When they inhale each other’s scent they tremble out of desire to love more. They want to start all over again and would if they could. They want to remain one for as long as possible and untangle body and emotion only out of practical need. This is the fifth love.
The unique and most wonderful thing about such sharing is that it is not just a sharing with our spouse. It is a sharing with ourselves. It is a knowing and discovering of oneself that cannot possibly be experienced or learned in any other way. Only through the intense desire to become one in love with another can we see and know who we are. That part of us will remain forever hidden unless we are lucky enough to share the union of deep emotional and physical loving. Loving that deeply is to know that saying “I love you,” is totally inadequate.
There simply needs to be a new word for that kind of love. You love your parents and your children. But only with your spouse can you share that union of intense emotions and physical/sexual sharing of the physioemotional fifth love. The power of this love cannot be described, it can only be felt. The breadth of sharing in the fifth love makes it deeper than that of any other love. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that you love your children or God less. I’m simply saying that you have more of you to use in loving your spouse because you add the physical you.
When I touch my son in a hug, I feel his being. I touch his person and I share with him my love and my touch. I know that he is part of my body and I his. I could not love him more as a son.
The only love that incorporates every part of who we are is the love of our spouse. We simply have no more to share. The intimacy of emotion and body adds an incredible dimension. A dimension that is unavailable in sharing with children, parents, or God.
Some will be offended that I suggest we can love a spouse more than God. Though it may seem hypocritical to a deeply religious person to say that we can love a human being more than the supreme being that made us, I doubt it would seem so to God. God made us human beings. He gave us human senses and human emotions. He did not give endow in us supernatural or divine qualities or abilities. God simply does not expect us to have God like supreme love. God is the only supreme being, not any human. He made us human and gave us our bodies to love with, so we can love. He gave none of us divine properties. To think he’d be offended is to make God petty.
Is it not honoring God to love a human being with all the intensity given to us to use in loving? Does he not want us to love with all our emotions, and all our touches? Of course he does. Sex was no accident. He didn’t throw in an orgasm just to make sure that Homo sapiens babies would be born or because he thought it might be a nice added touch. He didn’t give us tears to shed only when we bang our finger or to use at funerals to show we truly care. He didn’t give us our senses only to smell roses, or watch a sunset. Using all of our emotions and our senses to love our spouse is the culmination of the love that God made possible through those senses. It is the fifth love. And yes, we honor God when we love with such intensity.
I would of course like to believe that if C.S. Lewis were here to discuss The Fifth Love, he would understand and agree. I’m betting that he could take this essay, use it as a seed of thought and rewrite it into a fine narrative using his remarkable talent and skill in sculpturing words into understanding. How I wish I could read The Fifth Love, by Clive Staples Lewis. He would surely have the right words to replace unification and physioemotional. But since I can’t look to him for the best descriptor, I would like to add a fifth pot, the fifth love, ”Physioemotional unification” to his Passion, Eros, Friendship, and Charity. I feel honored to do so even though it will bear no fruit.
Thanks Mr. Lewis for the inspiration you gave to me in The Four Loves. My essay, The Fifth Love is but an inadequate beginning of a complex dissertation that I wish you could finish. And thank you my wife for giving me our tears during our physioemotional unification—that allowed me to see and feel it, and thus a need to try and explain it. And I’ll keep trying.
Divine love is based not on fact, but on faith, not on proof, but on belief. The bible is there to use, but it proves nothing for it too takes acceptance and faith that it is the word of God. God did not sign it in front of a notary. A Christian has no lack of faith, for if doubt becomes a factor, the intensity crashes along with their acceptance of Christ. Those that are fortunate and possess an unquestioned belief in God are called the “faithful,” because faith is their foundation. Usually, that foundation is unshakable. Why? Because it exists in that person’s mind alone and is controlled only by them.
The nice thing about it is that it needs no proof and no one can disprove it. It is accepted as factual as one knows that tomorrow the sun will rise in the east. It is so beyond understanding that there is no need to try. It is profound and totally real. Because it cannot be held, touched, or understood, makes it no less real. For belief is thought, and thought lies within the mind of the individual alone. Divine love is a great and valuable gift. It is worldwide and comes in all colors and creeds. It is the most important foundation for goodness that the world has. It is evil’s greatest enemy and the strongest colleague of peace, and it is real.
The term “Unfaithful” relative to God, unfortunately has a very negative connotation to it. It should not. It is truly unfair to consider someone who lacks faith in God to be somehow inferior, wrong, bad, or less deserving of heaven. It is unfortunate that the bible places the unfaithful in a downcast position. The bible says that only through me (God) shall you enter the kingdom of heaven—only the faithful will see God.
I profess no authority, but I doubt that God could punish a just person. Lack of faith, something an individual does not control, makes no man unjust or unworthy of goodness and heaven. The disbeliever is not unrighteous, simply unfortunate. An all good, all knowing God will know the individual’s lack of faith is not of his accord, thus he is blameless. It is utterly ridiculous to think that God could be so petty as to stand at the kingdom of heaven and let in only believers. I’m betting heaven is open even to that tiny little pigmy native deep in the jungle of Africa that is raising his family in a hut and never heard of church, God, or religion. To think God would punish him is ignorant and arrogant. If you disagree, we simply view the charity of God differently. I choose to believe that if there is a God he’s all understanding and just, and will welcome that pigmy for doing a great job raising his family totally ignorant of God’s existence. Simply put, Got is not arrogant.
Lewis understood faith, the belief in God, and divine love better than most, because he was on both sides of faith. He was that born-again Christian. What takes place within the mind to make one suddenly go from disbelief, to belief? Why does someone move from a position of needing to understand (call it proof) to blind acceptance (faith)? I have no idea.
The “Born again Christian” is an instant changer. Yet, that term often connotes some negativity or doubt. If you meet someone and they introduce themselves as a Christian, you nod, smile, and continue chatting. If someone introduces himself as a “Born-again Christian,” many think, “Oh brother, one of them.” How illogical. Just because it was not always there should not make it questionable. In fact it should make it stronger.
It works the other way as well, the faithful can lose their faith. I can certainly appreciate that direction. One can better explain the loss of faith than the gain of faith for questioning seems easier than blind acceptance.