Modern Living, Modern Loving

Is there such a thing as “modern love”?

I’m thinking of the way that our relationships are conducted today, as opposed to the way they were done in my grandparents’ day. My gut feeling is that there is a difference and it is quite profoundly different in many ways from the love of only a generation ago.

In the same way that there is a vein of impermanence that dominates modern living, I feel that same sense of fleetingness dominates our human emotions too. For example, we buy TVs, washing machines, mobile phones etc with the understanding that they are only going to last us for as long as it takes for the “next best thing” comes onto the market. We sign up to the idea that mobile phone contracts are to last for a maximum of two years and after that time the handset you have been using will be obsolete and will need upgrading just to stay “current”. Our TVs are only built to last for a couple of years until their insides wear out, or the screen size changes and you can expect to watch a football match in real-size, or HD becomes Super-HD, or YouTube and Google decide that it’s not good enough to be only able to access them from a phone, tablet, laptop or PC but your TV has got to have online access too. Gone are the days where you only replaced the TV either when a) the screen gets smashed by you playing football with your brother in the living room and you knock over the maiden onto it (I’m just throwing that out there, not that it ever happened to me and my brother….ahem….) or b) the rental shop has changed hands and they come out with new stock so they can charge you more for it (remember the days of having a coin slot on the back of your TV??). Today, a new TV is only expected to last as long as your mobile phone. Which isn’t saying much.

We have so many throwaway goods and items now too – bottled water in bottles designed to be used once; plastic bags for groceries; food packaging, takeaway cartons; clothes so trendy that after two times through the laundry they are considered “out of fashion”; all sorts of things.

It’s the same of jobs too. Once, not that long ago, it was not unexpected to be able to leave school, get an apprenticeship somewhere, go to work for the firm who trained you, work your way up the ladder and leave at the age of 65 with a golden handshake at the end of your service. It happened to my Dad who only retired 5 years ago, but he was an exception to the norm now. Now, kids leaving school can’t trust that the company they are apprenticed to will still be in business at the end of their training let alone when they reach retirement age. The blame isn’t all laid at the company’s door though. Far from it. People now chop and change path when the need arises and there is no such thing as a “career for life”, let alone a “job for life” as my Dad had. It is perfectly normal for someone to be a plumber for a couple of years, then a postman for a bit, maybe train as a computer technician or even classroom support assistant and then maybe turn to being a taxi driver for a while. It’s not uncommon, and it isn’t seen as unusual.

I myself have fallen into this type of situation – from office work to shop assistant to office work to pastoral work to unemployed – and I’m now considering my future back in the classroom in a couple of years time. When I went to my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago I dreaded the question “So, what do you do?” because I didn’t know for the life of me how to answer it. There were people there who could say “I’m X”, or “I do Y” but I think if I had asked them a few years ago, or again in a few years from now, the answers might be very different.

It’s not unusual or wrong, it’s just the way we live our lives today.

So what about my initial question – is there really such a thing as “modern love”? And if there is, does it fit with the same pattern I’ve described above?

My feeling is that yes, there is such a thing as modern love and yes, sadly, it does fit the pattern I’ve described above.

I say sadly, because people who fall in and out of shallow, modern love probably won’t ever find the depth of love and respect our grandparents enjoyed. Maybe in this day of instant communication, the adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is very true. Modern living doesn’t give us enough room to think, grow and mature into our relationships and we are very much centred on the here and now, not the “down the road, tomorrow” that is necessary for true, deep love to flourish.

How many times have we seen huge weddings, with years of planning going into every detail, every nuance, every quirk to make it “unique” only to see the marriage itself last maybe a handful of years. I’ve seen it with friends, with work colleagues, with stories in the media (another sign of our times) and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is an inverse correlation with the amount of money and attention thrown at the wedding and the length of the consequent marriage. Perhaps my view is only based on anecdotal evidence, but it’s one of those things that strike me especially when we look at weddings of previous generations.

old wedding 1Our grandparents and great-grandparents got married after very short courtships and engagements, and generally weddings were very low-key affairs. A church, the family and friends, maybe a bit of a do at the local church hall, a honeymoon at the seaside and then it was down to business. Was it that “old fashioned love” was really more of a business arrangement than a love affair? Did people go into marriage with their eyes, minds and hearts full of something else that is not the same as they do today? Do we believe in more of a romantic type of love today, where in the past romance was only something a few could afford? Is it because back then, life was so hard that things had to last because once it was gone, it was gone? Do we have it too easy?

Easy come, easy go…the same as our phones, or TVs, or laptops, or cars, our friendships, our communication with each other. The easier it is to come by the easier it is to let it go. Why should we look after our equipment and repair our clothes when it’s easier and quicker to go any buy new ones when they wear out? Why should we work at our relationships when it’s easier and quicker to go and find a new partner when the old one doesn’t suit you any more?

Is it perhaps because we travel about more now, and moving out of an area and away from family is not uncommon? Thinking back to when there were short courtships and engagements, is it because people knew each other from when they were children because they live in the same areas their families came from? Doris knew Bobby from infant school so when they went to the pictures they knew each other already and it wasn’t long before they knew they could make a go of it.

Am I wrong? Or am I just facing middle-age and looking back at the glory days with rose tinted spectacles and thinking that perhaps modern life is just a bit too much for me? I’d love to hear what you think, especially you Uta. You have a different perspective on this sort of thing to me and I’ve love to hear what you think about it.

modern wedding photo


6 thoughts on “Modern Living, Modern Loving”

  1. I’ve got to tell you that when I was looking for photos to illustrate this post I found it straightforward enough to find pictures for “old” weddings, 1920s weddings, 1960s weddings (I didn’t use all the ones I found because it was too cluttered) but when I searched for “modern wedding photo” I couldn’t believe it. EVERY SINGLE picture was either a bizarre cake, a room decoration, a table centrepiece, a funky camera shot of some doves or something, or (this is the best) a bride WITHOUT A GROOM!! I kid you not. There were very few pictures of a couple when I searched for modern photos. And you can see that the one I did choose was one of only a few that showed a bride AND a groom. Shame they are looking in different directions….


  2. Hi, Pam, I think I am more of your Dad’s generation. No wonder you think I may have a different perspective. When marriage relationships do not last for a life-time, sure this is regrettable. When products that could last for many years, are thrown out after a year or two, sure tis is regrettable too. Sometimes things can be fixed again, sometimes this just is not possible. In the end we all have to make our own choices. What was good about life in past generations we can attempt to hold onto this. There are people who lovingly restore old homes and furniture. But they also include modern conveniences, do they not? I think people who have a free choice are pretty lucky. A lot has to do with how wealthy they are. In our modern society even if you do not have a lot of assets or income, people can usually live in better housing than in the past, eat better food, own more things. (I am talking of course about so called first world countries.) However I totally agree with you that we should not forget about that what was good in the past. People may have lived much simpler lives on average, but maybe they had more time for each other and cared more about each other. I am all for it to hold onto the good things from the past, for instance classical music and folk songs and church music, these are things that are definitely precious to me. Whether relationships last or do not last who in the end can decide about this? Modern life is what it is. There are quite a few things I do not like very much about modern life. If I were younger and had to look for a job I am not so sure how I would go about it, to be honest. It worries me that a lot of young people cannot find jobs these days in our effluent society. But was it really any different after the war or in past centuries?
    I used to do office work in Berlin after I left school in 1952. There had been more than 40 applications when I applied for this very low paid job for office work as a beginner. I guess I was just lucky at the time that I was able to get this job. If I were 18 again, would I be able to get a job in today’s environment? I wonder.


    1. Oh Uta, thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to write me such great words. I know what you mean about younger people and jobs now – I think it must be the same the world over – because there doesn’t seem to be any of any value for them. I’m lucky because my daughter wants to serve in the Navy when she has finished her studies, and my son wants to pursue a musical career in the armed forces, but if they weren’t so service minded I wonder what they would be able to get as a decent job with a living wage.

      I’m with you about holding onto precious things like music from the past too. As a musician there’s not much modern stuff that appeals to me (apart from film music, and some stage and screen stuff that’s new) but pop music and modern hymns leave me scratching my head sometimes!

      Thank you once again for your contribution my friend. I am so glad to have got your perspective on this. Best wishes, Pam.


      1. Prince Harry has arrived in Sydney to help celebrate 100 years since the Royal Australian Navy fleet first entered the waterway.
        Prince Harry has arrived in Sydney to help celebrate 100 years since the Royal
        “Prince Harry has arrived in Sydney to help celebrate 100 years since the Royal Australian Navy fleet first entered the waterway.

        The International Fleet Review visit marks the prince’s first official trip to Australia representing the royal family.

        This morning he and Governor-General Quentin Bryce will board the HMAS Leeuwin on Sydney Harbour, where people are already gathering at prime viewing points.

        The International Fleet Review visit marks the prince’s first official trip to Australia representing the royal family.

        This morning he and Governor-General Quentin Bryce will board the HMAS Leeuwin on Sydney Harbour, where people are already gathering at prime viewing points.”


        Hi, Pam, thanks very much for your reply. I thought you might be interested in the above. Today is a great day in Sydney for the International Fleet Review. You’ll probably be able to see something of it in your British News Programs.

        Yours, Uta.


  3. “Or am I just facing middle-age and looking back at the glory days with rose tinted spectacles and thinking that perhaps modern life is just a bit too much for me? ”

    I wouldn’t say it’s a middle age thing. I’m 21and feel much the same way. The throwaway culture of love and relationships saddens me and to be honest makes me wonder if I’ll ever find the kind of love that my parents and grandparents have. (Then I’m heartened because I see my sister and B-I-L and while they’re only approaching their 3rd anniversary I think that they have it too.)


I'd love to hear your view, please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s