BO LOZOFF ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
W. Bradford Swift
(While I had the privilege of interviewing Bo for this article years ago, the message and wisdom is timeless, so I hope you find some pearls.)
In this era of staggering divorce rates, it is increasingly rare to meet a couple that got married in the ’60s and are still profoundly in love. Bo and Sita Lozoff are living testimony to this possibility.
You don’t have to be around them long before you realize that there is something intriguing about this couple. Bo explains that he and Sita don’t see themselves as being in a relationship at all; instead, they view the sacred institution of marriage as a merging of two people into one entity. They represent one force in the world, not two. In short, their concept of marriage flies in the face of society’s obsession with individualism.
Bo and Sita also operate as one in the business of running the Human Kindness Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting simple living and compassion for others. Bo, 53, is the author and spokesperson, and Sita, 55, makes everything run smoothly. Does this mean she has settled for a subservient role? “The thought is absurd,” says Sita. Besides, she adds, “Who says writing books and being better known is more important or more fulfilling than working in the background? We each do what we do best.”
The Lozoffs, who live at the Kindness House in Mebane, North Carolina, with their 29-year-old son, Josh, and a small community of foundation workers, have devoted their marriage to the service of others, which Bo claims has allowed them to move beyond romance and sentimentality. Sita agrees. “I think the whole notion of romance is based on not really knowing each other,” she says. “That’s why it’s one of the first things that goes. But I feel we love each other more and are more affectionate than we have ever been.”
Since the following interview is with Bo, it’s worth noting that Sita likes it that way. As she puts it, “We are both speaking, but Bo has the mouth.”
For every two marriages in this country there is one divorce. What do you think has led to this staggering statistic?
Divorce is symptomatic of a profound loss of vision about life — what we’re doing here in the first place, whether there is any purpose to being here other than just “me and mine.” Like the bumper sticker “He who dies with the most toys wins” indicates, a lot of people feel that life really isn’t about anything. The superficial way many people view marriage and the relative frequency with which they break their vows reflect this.
Marriage is one of the core institutions in our civilization. Wedding ceremonies have always involved the sacred, but these days our marriages are not being lived as though the union were sacred. Marriage seems to be about nothing beyond the two people who are joining together in matrimony. The bride’s and groom’s families or communities have little to do with it, for example. The process resembles a business deal rather than a sacred ritual.
Marriage is a tool in the service of the spiritual journey, a way of combining forces and helping each other become enlightened. Yet we’re using marriage to help us make it through various career moves, and to provide solace in a purposeless and nasty world.
We have only to look at the consequences of this attitude — the divorce rate, the fatalistic view we have toward married life and life in general — to see that something is wrong with our basic view of marriage.
(Stay tuned. More on the way.)