Helpful tips to tell the difference
Here are some straightforward tips on distinguishing if your idea of love is a Hollywood one, or a Godly one:
Feelings are not reality. The minute the feelings go away, it’s easy to doubt. “Relationships shouldn’t be this hard.” “A relationship should make me happy.” Even Pope Francis said, “You can’t base a marriage on feelings that come and go. But rather on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God.” We should base our decision to marry on solid reasoning—such as whether or not that person challenges us to be a holier person.
Are you in love with yourself? If every action we take is based on our every whim and desire, and if we expect someone to fall in love with our selfishness, we must think again. True love doesn’t mean getting whatever we want. We can’t act how we did when we were single and expect our significant other to fit in the cracks.
What is true love then? True love means self-sacrifice. St. John Paul II said, “Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.” Matthew Kelly added, “Love is a willingness to lay down our own personal plans, desires, and agenda for the good of the relationship. Love is delayed gratification, pleasure, and pain. Love is being able to live and thrive apart, but choosing to be together.”
Every relationship has some disorder. The Catechism says, “[Evil] makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman… the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin.” Of course, we must discern the degree of disorder. But, disorder happens even in healthy relationships.
Sin may be the problem, not the relationship. We are quick to think that if a relationship has problems it means the relationship itself is a problem. Sometimes a relationship may not be worth continuing. But, in a Godly and healthy relationship, some “problems” are normal because sin is in every relationship. Every relationship has ups and downs.
Surprisingly, true love includes suffering. Matthew Kelly asks, “Are you willing to suffer for love? How much are you willing to suffer in order to have a truly amazing relationship? Are you prepared to let go of all your whims, cravings, and fancies, in order to pursue something more…?” Relationships aren’t about being perfect and happy all the time, but being forgiving. Pope Francis said that “Nobody is perfect. The key to happiness is forgiveness.”
“Marriage is work…. and a lifelong commitment,” Pope Francis says. “In a way it’s like being a goldsmith, because a husband makes his wife more of a woman, and she in turn should make her husband a better man.” A common complaint is that the other person is trying to “change” them. Yet, change is good if it makes us holier. For example, asking a significant other to drink less alcohol at a social gathering may be viewed as forcing unwanted change. But, this change is good as it makes us holier.
Why get married if it includes suffering and work? Marriage helps us become a better person. “After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving,” the Catechism says.
“Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.” Pope Francis says. Ultimately, marriage to someone who is your best friend and shares your love for God will bring happiness, even amidst the suffering and work.
Let’s give ourselves a reality check on love. Is our viewpoint on true love a Hollywood one, or a Godly one?
Emily Brandenburg is a Catholic Youth and Young Adult leader in the Diocese of Orange, California. This article was originally published by the Chastity Project and is reprinted here with kind permission.
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