Over my years of counseling individuals and couples, it has become apparent the “love” idea is simply that – an idea.
Most people believe it will sustain them throughout a lifetime; however, they discover very quickly something is missing.
Each person can state unequivocally they still “love” the other, but it appears they have fallen “out of love” with each other. At least, that is what I am told.
When people come in for counseling, I almost get the idea they are looking more for someone to affirm their position – to say it is OK to break up and go their separate ways. They are pretty convinced this “love” relationship is finished. When asked what gives them that idea, they respond: “I don’t feel the love or the same as I did before!”
Allow me some time to consider all this. When most of us felt inclined to marry, we were very young. In fact, that is probably the No. 1 reason people give themselves permission to divorce: “We were too young to ‘jump’ into marriage!”
Really? If someone would have said you were too young to marry, I am certain you would have countered that you were old enough to make your own decisions.
Another point I would like to make concerns this thing called “lifetime.” Do any of us believe it possible to make a lifelong commitment to another person, especially when we are in our 20s when we make that commitment? How can it be done? We have no idea what the future holds for us as individuals or as couples.
So, where do we go from here? We’re stuck.
Not really. The answer lies in what “real love” is and how we enter into it. The discernment process should be about three elements: Should I marry? Is this the person I should marry? Am I willing to renew my commitment daily to be married?
Once we have decided that marriage is the vocation we choose, then we are challenged to meet a person with whom we are willing to develop a deep relationship. This will mean we are willing to invest our entire being into him or her. Our final challenge is to be determined to commit every day to this vocation despite the feelings we experience.
You see, “real love” is all about shedding every element that displays any form of selfishness or self-centeredness. In order to bond with another, it is necessary to let go of the “me” so the “we” can emerge. This is somewhat painful and is life-long in nature.
We will never completely rid ourselves of the “me.” That is the reason we must consistently commit to the relationship on a daily basis. Marriage is a DECISION and not a feeling! Once the decision is implemented, the feelings will follow.
To sum up, when a couple enters into this vocational state, incorporates the Father, Son and Holy Spirit into their lives and decides every day to keep the Trinity involved in their daily lives and decisions, they will find marriage both fulfilling and rewarding.
Deacon Dave Farinelli, LPC, LMFT, is a staff counselor with Catholic Counseling Services. For more information and/or counseling with a Catholic perspective, contact Catholic Counseling Services at 861-6245.