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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

Our love is broken

Wed, 04 May 2016 11:04:00 +0000 Published in El Confidencial Digital

"We broke our love from using it so much,
from so much crazy embrace without measure.
Things so beautiful are short-lived,
a flower never lasted two springs". 

These verses are part of the lyrics of a romantic ballad written by Manuel Alejandro for the famous singer Rocío Jurado, now deceased.

The love that is "used" is a "love of a thing", which is opposed to the "love of a person". It is not the same to love an object as to love a subject. The first one usually generates tiredness and ends soon, so it has no place in marriage. Conjugal love, on the other hand, is a love plenary session of the Executive Council that is not satisfied with a sensitive desire, but aspires to meeting staff .

There are marriages that with the passing of the years enter into a crisis that they attribute to the "disappearance of love". It should be made clear to them that it is normal that with age the sentimental and passionate love of the falling in love phase decreases, and that, in exchange, the love of dilection, which is a voluntary decision to love based on reflection, becomes more important.

Married love is measured by the ability to submission, not by the ease of getting excited. Lewis states that the autumn of married life is the stage of "quiet love," which should be seen not as a setback, but as the maturity of love:

"Being in love is good, but it's not the best. It can't become the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. No feeling can be depended upon to last in all its intensity, or even to endure. In fact, whatever they say, the feeling of being in love does not usually last. Who could stand to live forever in such a state of excitement? What would become of our work, our appetite, our sleep, our friendships. But, of course, ceasing to be in love does not mean ceasing to love"- (Lewis, C. L. Mere Christianity).

Perseverance in the union as husband and wife is, essentially, a matter of values. Which subject of values am I referring to?

Lovers (in the best sense of the word) are those who love each other; spouses are those who, besides loving each other, commit themselves to continue loving each other. Those who marry add a new element to their love process: commitment. It is a voluntary decision on the part of both parties, whereby each freely chooses the other forever. The commitment entails an act of submission of all that they are in the present and what they will be in the future as man and woman.

The conjugal covenant changes love: it moves from love as a fact (which exists as long as it lasts) to committed love; gratuitous love, which is given as a gift, is transformed into a love of justice, into a debt of love ("I love you because I owe you"); and love provisional becomes definitive love. Committed love is not slavery; the spouses freely and voluntarily obligate themselves to love each other forever.

Isn't loving each other forever unrealistic?

All lovers, in all ages, have asked each other the same question: "Will you always love me? This concern denotes that authentic love implies stability, permanence.

"To be in love is to begin to say always and from now on never say never again". (F. Bernárdez).

Married people make a lifelong commitment to love each other. A married person, in a status of marital conflict, may ask themselves this question, "Is there any good reason why I should continue to love the other and maintain the union?"

There is that good reason: we have been constituted husband and wife, we are one flesh, one is for the other as an extension of oneself.

The status before marriage is "I marry you because I love you", but, once married, the correct expression is another: "I love you because you married me, because you are my wife (or my husband), and I will continue to love you even if the qualities that made me fall in love in the first place disappear.

It is highly advisable for spouses to evoke with some frequency that when they married they made a commitment not to each other's feelings, but to each other's person.

Marriages that last are not those that emphasize love-feeling and love-passion, but those that emphasize love as a decision to continue loving each other. This duration expresses exemplarity. It is the best reference letter for the love life of the children.