“School” Retreat Day Four: Marriage is a School of Love
Breaking Open the Theme
“It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself” (Humanae Vitae, no. 9). To love another for his or her own sake requires selfless seeking of the other’s authentic good. This selfless form of friendship takes on new qualities and responsibilities in marriage when our own happiness also depends on it.
Marriage is a school of love because it demands the gift of love each and every day. The source of our love for one another lies beyond ourselves, it is rooted in the love of God: “The order of love belongs to the intimate life of God himself, the life of the Trinity […] Love, which is of God, communicates itself to creatures: ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us’ (Rom 5:5)” (Mulieris Dignitatem, no. 29). When drawing from the love of God, we can transform our marriages into true friendships of authentic self-giving. Moreover, marriage is “an ‘affective union’, spiritual and sacrificial, which combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subside” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 120).
Friendship can take many forms, between men and women, gals and pals, and brothers and sisters. The friendship that exists in marriage, however, is an unrepeatable form of friendship that combines both philos (friendship) and eros (attraction), allowing it to take on new dimensions of intimacy and involvement. It can sometimes be difficult to draw the line between what we share with our best friends and what we share with our spouse exclusively. It is important to define ‘friend boundaries’ as couples and recognize that however close we may be with others, there is always something unique to the friendship we cherish with our spouse.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
(1) How do you and your spouse nurture your unique friendship?
(2) Are there any friends who get in the way of your own bonding time?
(3) How can friends of one or the other spouse become friends to both spouses and enrich rather than detract from your marriage?
Holy Couples – Saints Isidore the Farmer and Maria de la Cabeza
Prayer of Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
so that we might reflect
the union of Christ with His Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.