If love be love

Why do Russian women stick to their destitute, decrepit husbands? Out of — not pity but duty.

It may be true that peasant women in old Russia did not know how to say “I love him”; they said “I pity him” instead. But it’s not pity, nor even self-sacrifice I’m talking about. It’s not “I will sacrifice myself so that he may be well and happy”. It’s “if I leave him now, how can I say to myself I love him? Is my love too weak — is it not real? But then, if my love is fake, what is left of me and of my life? No, it is real and strong; so I will stay with him and help him out and be his consolation.” It is a duty to love itself.

Another take at this. “If I left him now, in trouble and misery, would I have ever loved him? How can I admit my love was not for real? To leave him would be to declare my love null and void, and my life with it.”

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