“Love” and “marriage” may go together like “baby” and “carriage” but the relationship between the two is obviously a lot more complicated than our 90 minute romantic comedy fairy tales suggest. (I, by the way, like a good romantic comedy.)
Over lunch recently a friend pointed out how his wife and he, after several years of marriage, were working on and addressing issues that they never new existed prior to marriage. It was hard work, but they were getting through them. They are an example of the old maxim that says that no matter how well we know someone, and how much effort we invest in getting to know someone, before marriage, when we marry, we are still marrying someone who is largely a stranger to us. We have a lifetime to get to know each other, and in that lifetime we will learn to love a person we only marginally knew before. And that takes a significantly deep commitment.
Romantic love is a wonderfully warm and endearing thing, but it is no guide to deep and lasting relationship in marriage. We have to learn to love, and learning to love means sacrificing ourselves for the sake of another. Since that is something most of us are loathe to do, marriage vows are imminently wise, and deeply helpful when taken seriously. Without the commitment to love someone, we might not actually come to love that person in the way that they need to be loved.
I’ve always been touched by the wonderful segment, called ‘Bastille‘ in the movie Paris, je t’aime. Thought the overall story is sad, the confession that ‘by acting like a man in love, he became a man in love again’ has always seemed just right to me.