In Amoris Laetitia, the pope offers several suggestions on how to keep your marriage strong and happy through the years
In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis used St. Paul’s “hymn to love,” taken from his First Letter to the Corinthians, to offer several pieces of advice on how to keep one’s marriage strong throughout the years, based on true love.
“Love is patient, love is kind.
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong,
but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).
“It is helpful to think more deeply about the meaning of this Pauline text and its relevance for the concrete situation of every family,” he explained.
1. Love is patient. For Francis, “being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression or allowing other people to use us.” […] “Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.”
“We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the center and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively,” he warned.
2. Love is at the service of others. The pope underscored that, through his letter, St. Paul “wants to stress that love is more than a mere feeling. Rather, it should be understood along the lines of the Hebrew verb “to love”; it is “to do good.”
“As Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, ‘Love is shown more by deeds than by words.’ It thus shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving.”
3. Love is not jealous. “Love has no room for discomfiture at another person’s good fortune (cf. Acts 7:9; 17:5),” the pope emphasized, adding that “Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s prosperity; it shows that we are not concerned for the happiness of others but only with our own well-being.”
“True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy. It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life.”
4. Love is not boastful. Francis emphasizes that “Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the center of attention.”
“Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them. Yet what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak.”
5. Love is not rude. “To love is also to be gentle and thoughtful,” the Pope said, “and this indicates that “love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh. Its actions, words and gestures are pleasing and not abrasive. Love abhors making others suffer.”
Read more: Everything you ever wanted to know about marriage and annulments, but were afraid to ask
6. Love is generous. Contrary to the popular saying, that “to love another we must first love ourselves,” the pope recalls that St. Paul’s hymn to love “states that love ‘does not seek its own interest,’ nor ‘seek what is its own.’”
“Generously serving others is far more noble than loving ourselves.”
7. Love is not irritable or resentful. In Amoris Laetitia, the pope warns us about “a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided.”
“The Gospel tells us to look to the log in our own eye (cf. Mt 7:5),” he adds. “If we must fight evil, so be it; but we must always say ‘no’ to violence in the home.”
8. Love forgives. Francis recommends not leaving any space for “ill will to take root in our hearts,” but to work for “forgiveness, which is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand other people’s weaknesses and to excuse them.”
“Family communion,” the pope states, “can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation.”
9. Love rejoices with others.“When a loving person can do good for others, or sees that others are happy, they themselves live happily and in this way give glory to God, for ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor 9:7),” the Holy Father says.
“The family must always be a place where, when something good happens to one of its members, they know that others will be there to celebrate it with them.”
10. Love bears all things. This, the pope explains, “implies limiting judgment, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation: ‘Judge not and you will not be judged’ (Lk 6:37).”
“Married couples joined by love speak well of each other; they try to show their spouse’s good side, not their weakness and faults. In any event, they keep silent rather than speak ill of them. This is not merely a way of acting in front of others; it springs from an interior attitude.”
Read more: How Amoris Laetitia saved my marriage
11. Love believes all things. “This goes beyond simply presuming that the other is not lying or cheating,” the pope explains.
“It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything.”
12. Love hopes all things. This word, the pope says, “speaks of the hope of one who knows that others can change.”
“This does not mean that everything will change in this life. It does involve realizing that, though things may not always turn out as we wish, God may well make crooked lines straight and draw some good from the evil we endure in this world.”
13. Love endures all things.The pope points out that this endurance “involves not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge.”
“Love does not yield to resentment, scorn for others or the desire to hurt or to gain some advantage. The Christian ideal, especially in families, is a love that never gives up.”