A couple of days ago, a couple of friends & I had a heated debate about one of the most poignant story lines from the tv show 'Scandal'- the triangle between Olivia Pope, President Fitz, and his wife, Mellie.
I shy away at the thought of calling it a 'love triangle' especially as it is my personal opinion that 'love' by our limited definition is what is least in play in this situation.
Liv & Pres. Fitz fall in love while she is working on his campaign, he is married. As the show progresses, it is revealed that he wasn't really in love with his wife and married her out of a sense of duty. As a result, he is tortured, she is tortured and they all suffer.
So the topic of debate? Whose side are you on? Do you root for Liv and President Fitz because they seem to be 'soul mates'? Or do you sympathize with Mellie as she desperately tries to hold her marriage together?
I will admit that every time Fitz and Liv come on the screen, my heart winces. I have even shed a few tears. It has always baffled me how something so abstract can cause actual physical pain. The very thought that just a feeling can stop the most vital organ in my body has and will always be mystifying to me. We all know heart ache, metaphorically and literally.
However, I am Team Mellie!
In as much as I get it and I so do get the Olivia & President Fitz 'thing', I just cannot in good conscience root for them to be together. I am of the firm belief that love is a decision. Love in marriage is a decision. It is not as we expect a feeling that should just 'be there' in our hearts and therefore the absence of it means it has taken its leave. Much like everything else in life, love is not stagnant, it evolves, over time it comes to mean different things in every relationship not just romantically. It is to be worked on and cultivated as with everything worth having and keeping in life.
As humans, we are told life is a journey and indeed it is. Do the same rules apply when the phase of our journey suddenly changes from sailing in perfect sunny weather to navigating a storm in torrential rains? And what if we weren't prepared and thought a two person sailboat is all that was needed for the journey? Clearly the logical thing to do once we get into less than desirable sailing conditions would be to make the necessary adjustments in the interest of self preservation. Does that give you the right to bring a third person on board just because you don't feel as confident or as safe anymore? Why all of a sudden are my sailing skills not sufficient enough all because the weather changed? Surely if we both started out on the journey together, shouldn't your skills be called into question as well?
When, how, and why do we stop being enough to each other?
I have been told that I am oversimplifying love and ignoring all of the complexities. I'll confess I don't understand love much less all of its many intricacies, my only question is; what about Mellie? Should she allow a third passenger on her 2 person sail boat? And how long before they all drown?
Liv & President Fitz may be soul mates but they don't know for sure. Is it not possible that those emotions are intensified simply and only because they cannot be together? If love is supposed to feel so good, why are they in anguish? If they fully explored this relationship and actually got together, who's to say that all will be well in their world? Does being soul mates give you automatic immunity from being human?
It is human nature to always wonder just how much greener the grass is on the other lawn, it is part of our evolutionary nature. Could Pres. Fitz feel so strongly about Olivia just because she's not Mellie? Did he ever consider that they're the same woman? They're both strong willed, assertive, intelligent women who love politics and their country. How different are they really?
I am of the notion that in a world with 7 billion people, if time and opportunity allowed for it, we would all find more than one soul mate. It's all about chances and odds but for whatever reason, we choose to settle and make a life with one who we feel is best suited to us and our wants & needs.
So by it's very definition, is this love? Is it selfish to abandon Mellie? Is it kind that he has a love affair? That considered, how much of this is truly love ?
It seems to me that loving has more to do with how you feel and how the person makes you feel. Once that initial 'high' is gone, we start to chase rainbows, unfairly expecting each other to duplicate that feeling, our frustrations with each other cause us to either throw one off the boat or jump head first into the water, either way we have a man overboard situation. It is why even when we have committed to journey through life with someone, deep down inside, we always look out for that rescue boat.
We all want to be saved. The real question is from whom or from what?
Photo Credit: ABC