In this world, there are many different definitions of what love actually is.
Some say that love is a permanent emotion, that if you fall in love with someone you should continue to be in love with them for the rest of your life.Others say love is simply a disposable emotion, such as fear, surprise, and joy: an emotion that could be here today and gone the next.Throughout the story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” by Raymond Carver, we see how different viewpoints on love can really be, and how these different viewpoints on the subject can help us get a better understand of the true definition of love.The story involves two couples sitting around the house drinking, when they happen to stumble upon the subject of love in conversation.The two couples involved are Mel and Terri, who have been together for five years and had both come from other relationships that hadn’t work out.
The second couple, Laura and Nick, were just married recently. While the four of them sit around talking, much is revealed about their own personal viewpoints on love, and it becomes apparent that love is very much a permanent emotion.Raymond Carver brings the topic of love up very early on in the story, starting with Terri’s previous relationship, a man that “loved her so much he tried to kill her (290).”Terri is convinced that this man loved her even though he was constantly beating and hurting her.
“He did love me though, Mel.Grant me that.That’s all I’m asking.He didn’t love me the same way you love me.I’m not saying that.
But he loved me.You can grant me that, can’t you (292)?”Terri is obviously still attached and possibly still in love with a man who has only caused her pain and agony, which is not that uncommon to hear about.There are constantly cases of women being abused and mistreated by their husbands, but through it all they still find a way to convince themselves that their husbands still love them, no matter how horrible they are treated.
Is this really love?Could these men really love the women they abuse?And could these mistreated women really find a way to love their husbands as well?There are many answers on the reason for this belief in “tough love,” but the fact that women claim to love someone who abuses them cannot be overlooked.If you say you love someone, and you believe that someone loves you back, who’s to tell you any differently?Perhaps the author is trying to point out the fact that love isn’t always a wonderful experience, and pain is a certain part of the same emotion.Love isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be, and Carver uses Terri’s abusive relationship to represent that.Just as Terri had come out of a shattered relationship before she married Mel, the same is true for her husband.
Mel is divorced from his ex-wife, Marjorie, and the two apparently aren’t on very good terms.Marjorie has custody of their children, and, according to Mel, isn’t remarrying just to spite him and steal his money for child support. “’She’s allergic to bees,’ Mel said.‘If I’m not praying that she’ll get married again, I’m praying that she’ll get herself stung to death by a swarm of fucking bees (299).’”It’s very obvious that Mel and Marjorie can’t stand each other anymore, but even Mel admits that there was a time when they both were very much in love.“There was a time when I thought that I loved my first wife more than life itself.But now I hate her guts.I do.How do you explain that?What happened to that love (294)?”Mel’s argument is very legitimate.If love is supposed to last forever, than why do so many marriages fail?Is love really a temporary thing, or do some people simply confuse it with other emotions?.