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The Meaning of Love  

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fewer and fewer people nowadays choose to take marriage vows preferring to live together as partners. Many feel that they are not ready to make a life long commitment to be husband and wife and married parents to their children. They feel happier to leave the door open so that either one can walkout at any time. That’s easy for them but it leaves the children with the insecurity and uncertainty of having no mom or perhaps a dad when they wake up in the morning.

In the western world, family relationships have been under intense pressure for decades from materialism, lost values, unreasonable demands for continuous emotional and sexual gratification. It led to an estimated divorce rate of one in every three marriages. So many couples are incapable of fidelity and pre-nuptial contracts have become common and the abandonment of marriage itself.

In the book of Sirach we are warned about the dangerous false friendship, fair weather friends and the true friend that money can’t buy. The faithful loyal friend is the person who is at your side always when the going gets tough and when challenges lie ahead. The true friend who is there to support, help, serve, affirm and protect you from harm. That’s' what a loving marriage is all about... It’s making a public commitment to the highest value and ideal –unselfish, self-giving to another for life. It is a commitment made in public before the whole community. They vow that they will be faithful for life to their husband or wife. They pledge to be honest, understanding, caring, kind, gentle, sensitive and loving without expecting a reward, setting conditions, seeking one’s own pleasure and comfort. True love is unselfish. Above all, married love gives security, affirmation, love, care and affection to the children. It calls for courage, self-sacrifice and personal spiritual strength.

These values that imbrue true love are vital, necessary for happy and intelligent children. They are the firm foundation for emotionally, psychological and physically healthy children. Affirmation, admiration and encouragement are so necessary for the children to be secure, strong in mind and heart, to be whole and integrated, mature and wise. They will have it in abundance if the parents pass it on to them. The love between self-sacrificing parents brings family harmony. This is the goal and purpose of a loving, committed, married relationship.

This steadfast spiritual love that is seen in true married commitment and dedication is greatly helped by the mutual physical attraction we call “falling in love”. This is a powerful natural force of gene compatibility, mutual recognition of goodness in the other. It is the chemistry of the emotional and romantic magnetism that creates that wonderful experience of crossing barriers and achieving intimacy. It is this and their spiritual beliefs that bind a couple to each other. It is not a fleeting experience either and with care and dedication can last a lifetime as many married couples have experienced.

Romantic love matures and is sustained by spiritual love and friendship. It can be nurtured and strengthened and will empower the couple to meet and overcome the challenges of establishing a family, caring for the children, having a secure working life and a happy respectful family. END

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Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.
e-mail: preda@info.com.ph
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PREDA Information Office
PREDA Foundation, Inc.
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www.preda.org

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