Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The True Meaning of Love / Marriage

Even though we've only been married for a little over 3 months, we have been a couple for over 7 years and seen multiple hills and valleys through our extensive history of dating and being engaged. Thus, I think I am at least a little qualified to write on the subject of the true meaning of love and marriage.

Another reason why I'm qualified (and need to) reflect on this is because I have been suffering greatly inside lately. I think that for the first time in our young marriage, we have entered a valley. It is nothing big or scary, but it is causing quite a bit of turmoil inside of my soul. I think much of it has to do with God trying to not only work on our marriage and the strength of our relationship; but God also wants me to take another, longer, deeper look at myself and my own heart. I think that through the suffering of this particular valley, God wants to rid me of SELF...because I'm pretty full of it.

And thus comes my reflection on the true meaning of marriage - the marriage that God created and intended for from the beginning.

As you all have probably heard numerous times, love and marriage are not just about feelings - feelings of excitement, passion, romance etc. Feelings of love are just a small part of what love really encompasses. Rather than just being "nice feelings," love (and marriage) is a DECISION - a choice - to lifelong commitment, caring, and even suffering.

In other words, LOVE is about DOING, not FEELING.

Yes, nice feelings accompany love, but there are times when we feel like those feelings have perhaps burnt out...or gotten lost somewhere along the road. We ask ourselves, '"where is the flame that brought us together and set us on fire?" It is at those times, when the flame seems all burnt out, barely keeping the fire alive, that we must make the continuous CHOICE to LOVE the other person and to stick around even when it's hard - even when it hurts. No, we do not just quit as today's Hollywood culture has us believe, at the first sight of the "flame burning out," rather, we must choose to love ON PURPOSE...to fall in love with our husband/wife AGAIN, and AGAIN.

The words of British novelist Louis de Bernières speak perfectly to this subject:

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

Not only must you make a constant effort to care for the person you CHOSE to love/marry, but you must also be prepared to endure trials, temptations, and sufferings - which life naturally brings - alongside that person. Sometimes, even the monotony of everyday life - the "everyday sameness" - piled on top of feelings of indifference toward or from our spouse can bring enough suffering for us to question our love for the other person and even to want to simply give up as we don't see the sense in such a boring / painful life. But those are all temptations from the enemy and/or trials from God that we must endure in order for God to mold us into better lovers towards each other, better children/servants of Him, and simply better people. As the popular saying goes: "Marriage consists of 3 rings: the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and suffering."

It is times when the faith and strength of your relationship is tested and you persevere and endure through the strain and hardships of reality that you realize you can get through anything together. Where there is turmoil and war, there we must pray to God for consolation and pray for our spouses. And always remember: you are not against each other! As cliche as it sounds, you're on the same team: by hurting your partner or just being unforgiving or unloving, you are hurting the team.

People in today's culture are egoistic and narcissistic and they think that life is all about their own happiness and comfort. NO - sometimes you have to suffer and sacrifice in life for the sake of your loved one and your relationship. That is what people tend to not understand. Life is not ALL ABOUT YOU. Actually, in a marriage, you should be more concerned about the happiness of your spouse than your own. If people just lived by this, there would not be so much divorce. When the hardships of life and marriage come, at the slightest feeling of unhappiness and discomfort, people CALL IT QUITS instead of fighting for each other....

Sometimes the only way out is "through."

Once you enter a dark valley, you must bravely get "through" it or else you will not learn what the Creator of that valley wants to teach you. It is sad to see how many couples jump ship before pulling out of the valley....how many quit before realizing that this valley is not their permanent reality - but a temporary trial.

" Then it is, perhaps, that He must allow our whole world to be turned upside down in order to remind us it is not our permanent abode or final destiny, to bring us to our senses and restore our sense of values, to turn our thoughts once more to him—even if at first our thoughts are questioning and full of reproaches." - Fr. Ciszek on suffering ("He Leadeth Me")

 And I'm not saying all of this enduring and persevering and choosing to love on purpose is easy....but remember: "Don't tell God how big your storm is, rather, tell the storm how big Your God is." Our God is Almighty and He wants the best for us. So let's just hand our lives over to our Creator and live according to His purpose for us - which is to love one another as Christ loves His church - wholly and sacrificially!


Click here for Part 2 of this story!

Yours in Christ,

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