Monday, October 1, 2012

Marriage: "Feeling" in love...

My full-time employment is in ministry. Working for the Church, I hear a lot of stories about unfaithfulness, infedility, etc. Of couse I naturally ask, "Why?" I often hear, "I have fallen out of love with her/him." "I mean, I feel like we've grown apart and I don't feel like we're in love anymore," and the marriage is split. I want to state something that I have learned from JPII;

"Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends upon the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment."
I believe this is where our culture messes is up. Love is not a "feeling," it is a part of our will. Love is technically "willing the good for the other for the other's sake." What does that mean? It means I choose to do beyond what my feelings "feel." See, feelings come and go, but love endures and is more than just mere feelings. Feelings come and go. We are creatures, and creatures change often, especially our feelings. But, love is way more than feelings!  There are plenty times when I do not "feel" like going to work or doing some chore. But, do I.....YES! Love is way more than feelings,it is something I do, regardless of my feelings. (Not to say that my feelings never "feel" like it.)
But, is love merely something I will? I mean, do I grit my teeth and do it as a mere duty, a job? Here is where I think we need to move past the classical definition for "love" (that I wrote earlier). One of my favorite philosophers, Deitrich Von Hildebrand, states that, "love is a value response."Value responses can be enthusiasm, admiration, veneration, etc. These, I do not specifically will (unless I am faking it). Love is a response to another person because they have touched our heart. It is wanting the greatest good for the other, because they are the other and they simply deserve it.
To state that something 'is" is to state that it is not there or here. It is not past or present, but it "is"; now. JPII states it as "becoming." In other words, it is past and present, but it is ever arriving. Love is organic. I want to use an analogy of a tree. Think of a tree. It is a seed, but continues to blossom. Well, love is like this. Love is something that continues to blossom, of course ultimately fulfilled in the future (theologians name this the "eschaton") It always is...more and more of us. But, what happens when you stop watering the tree? It dies. It never reaches, fully, what it was from the beginning. Love is sort of like this. It demands us to give. See, love is a lot more than simply "I don't feel" in love with you. It should move past that.

I have asked a number of elderly, long-lasting, married couples what makes their marriage lasts. The answer that I have almost always heard is something along the lines of: "Life is always changing. It has not always been easy. But, we stuck with it, and it was absolutely worth it."
What our culture doesn't realize is what I have to tell people often, "nothing in this world, that is worth having, is easy." (You can apply this maxim to school, jobs, children, family, etc.) Who said that life would be easy? More specifically; Who said "love" would be easy?

You see, God is love and love is relational, therefore God is relational. (CCC 255) Why is this important? Because we are relational beings, made for "gift" (as JPII puts it in his Wednesday Audiences). We are made to give ourselves because we are "made in His image and likeness." Love necessarily demands reciprocation. It gives, and receives. The person is made to give themselves fully, and this is intrinsic in each. JPII states, "...[spousal] love in which the person becomes a gift - and by means of this gift- fulfills the meaning of his being and existence." (Wed. Audiences Jan 16, 1980). This is love; giving fully of thyself, even in hard times.

Let us stop accepting the culture expression that love is something that is truly based on feelings. Feelings change, love is consistent.



  1. Great insight Alex. I am confident this is what our society needs to hear and work towards to change this culture's view of marriage.

    1. Thanks Craig! I couldn't agree more!