Tag Archives: romantic love

Together In the Dark Nights

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I remember being in the hospital as a young married spouse. I soon came to realize how dependent I was on my wife. She stayed too long with me in my room as I recovered. I kept trying to get her to go home. But as we reflected on the experience and in light of subsequent hospital stays (our own and those of friends and family) we have come to realize how essential it is to have someone close by for so many important reasons.

  • You need an advocate to help communicate (both ways) with hospital staff and doctors. Who can remember what’s going on at 5:30 in the morning when they make their rounds, or when you’re heavily medicated and roused out of your stupor to hear detailed instructions?
  • You need someone else to be there and constantly remind you with their presence that you really aren’t alone. Recovering in the hospital isn’t just a physical effort. Having another person there – or even a visitor, reminds you of the essential connections that keep you healthy and whole.
  • All those other people in your life need to practice their faith. Helping to take care of you, to keep in touch, to pray, to be consistently present in so many ways – it’s essential for your loved ones to have opportunities to live out their faith.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center tells us that the number one reason Americans choose to get married is because they are in love. Romantic love remains the primary motivating force behind marriage these days. This report is entitled, “5 Facts on Love and Marriage in America.” Love was the number one fact, number two on the list was that the number of Americans who are married is at its lowest number than ever before.

Together, do these two “facts” mean that love is getting scarce in America?

Maybe.

When it comes to real love, maybe people aren’t as certain as they thought. What if it’s becoming more difficult to tell what real love looks like? If that’s true, then isn’t it even more important for people who are in love to demonstrate what it looks like in the good, the bad and ugly of life?

Love is probably not so much an internal feeling that you catch like the flu as much as it is a series of everyday acts of unselfish sacrifice. Love is something you have to do and then keep doing.

It looks like our world still needs us to love one another.

“Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.”  ― Peter S. Beagle

What Marriage Are We Defending?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians and admonished the husbands to love their wives the way that Christ loved the church – by sacrificing his life for it (Eph 5:25).

The Supreme Court has heard cases regarding same-sex marriage and made a significant ruling last year.  All of the talking heads on television are all over it. Opinions are running riot through the air waves. The American public seems to have dramatically shifted in it’s opinion on the matter.

The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law that defines marriage and limits it to a legal union between one male and one female. It was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It has now been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (5-4).

Former Secretary of State and Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton has decided that she might want to run for president again. She’s come out and changed her position on same-sex marriage.  Of course, now that she’s going to run and the political winds have changed, former President Bill Clinton changed his mind too. That’s sort of what he’s famous for – jumping on whatever’s popular at the time. He’s a very successful Southern politician.

But what if all of this isn’t really about same-sex marriage?  What if our cultural anomie about marriage is an effect of something deeper – at the very heart of our civilization? What if we have slowly yet deliberately changed the very meaning of marriage?

What if marriage in our society has evolved from a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of…

  1. expressing intimacy and sacrifice,
  2. producing and raising children, and
  3. making a living together

,,,to something more immediate?

What if the real reason we get married today is because we are seeking emotional happiness and personal satisfaction with our own life?

Is it possible that the most important reason that I would get married today is because I am seeking fulfillment for emotional needs in my life (at least those that I am aware of right now)?

“I want to get married because of what it can give to me.”

I wonder if marriage is no longer mainly a domain of sacrifice and commitment but instead has been transformed to one of personal need fulfillment and a “happiness retreat” from the impersonal world of work.

Our culture has become so successful that we really don’t need other people for personal interaction. We just need people to show up and do their jobs. (Or so we think). What we can’t get from the drive-thru or the computer screen is love and happiness. As humans we need this, so we seek it in cohabitation and marriage. When happiness fades, we move on.

I think we’ve changed the purpose of marriage without even realizing it. So now, it makes perfect sense to base marriage, partner selection and even having children on individual wish fulfillment criteria.

“This makes me happy right now, so it must be the right thing to do.”

America is one of the few societies in the history of the world to base marriage almost solely on romantic love.

Members of a society who think and act like this are not at all concerned with the social repercussions of their behavior. Year after year I have shown classrooms of students research findings on the devastating effects of divorce on children. But over and over again these same students overwhelmingly answer “YES” to the statement “if two people are not happy together, even if they have children, they should get divorced.”

(Many of these ideas are from the late Judith Wallerstein)

I think we have to figure out what marriage means before we can even begin to debate who can be married.

[Did you know that over 40% of children in America are born out of wedlock?]

The world we live in has changed (it always does), our social institutions have changed. I’m not certain our values have kept up. Marriage and family isn’t a political platform plank. It more resembles the mortar and brick with which our civilization is built. As you look up and down your street, listen to the news, watch the elections, read the magazines, what is OUR civilization being transformed into for the next generation?

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”  Pope John Paul II (1986)