In just two days — Friday, June 7 — Connie and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We have enjoyed a wonderful life together with three beautiful children. I feel so blessed.
For over 10 years Connie and I shared a bit of relationship advice with the youth of our parish, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Owensville when we were entrusted with the high school youth group.
So I wanted to take this time and share some tidbits of marriage/relationship wisdom I have picked up in our life together that you can pass along.
The Cinderella Effect
The Cinderella Effect (at least that’s what I call it) is something we are all aware of in a subconscious way. In many movies we all grew up with — Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, just to name two — the young girl lives a life of hardship and despair, dreaming of her prince charming, the one person who will sweep her off her feet and give her the love she deserves.
And of course, towards the end of the movie she finds him and they live happily ever after.
Although in these examples it’s the young lady dreaming of her one and only, men can also fall into this trap.
The trap is believing that there is one perfect match for us who will make us happy for the rest of our lives, otherwise known as your soul mate.
My sister in-law had this problem. She found her “one and only” and was determined to marry him. She even followed him when he moved away to North Carolina. Alas, he did not feel the same way.
After a couple of years she discovered the error of her ways and fell in love with another who returned her affections.
They have been married for 27 years.
This may shock you but more than once I have told Connie she is not the only one who I could be happy with.
In fact as a young man in high school and college my image of an ideal mate was different than what I found in Connie.
The difference is I choose to be with her, and she chooses to love and be with me. I made the decision to love her for the rest of my life the day I asked her to marry me.
This brings me to my second piece of advice.
Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will
This problem we have as a society can also be blamed on popular music, TV and Hollywood. In romantic movies — sometimes called chick flicks — the couple eventually falls in love. Love is shown as a feeling, and presented like a disease. We never see the hard work it takes to keep a relationship alive.
Another part of the problem is that portrayals of love in fairy tales can leave us disillusioned and unsatisfied with our real life partners
Think about it. How do we know that our parents loved us as we grew up? It’s because of the time they spent with us and the things they did for us. As children we could see and understand the love of our parents in the simple acts of love.
Unfortunately our children, and young adults, learn from pop culture that love is being weak in the knees and feeling your heart beat faster at the sight of your beloved. But while that attraction brings us together, it does not remain constant.
Real love is constantly being demonstrated with a hug, by saying I love you and through so many more simple deeds. Those acts are a choice of your will.
Of course the ultimate act of love was when Jesus died for our sins on the cross.
Part of the confusion lies in the English language. Although we can describe coffee in several different words — cappuccino, espresso, skinny latte, brew, etc. — we only have one word for love. The ancient Greeks had six.
Eros, sexual passion
Philia, brotherly love, as in Philadelphia
Ludus, playful love
Agape, selfless unconditional love, the love of God
Pragma, long standing love
Philautia, love of the self.
I found this on the internet a few months ago and it pretty well sums up what I have been trying to convey: “Hormones and pleasure may open the door to one’s life companion (eros), but it’s only a choice to dedicate one’s self to a person, love the person unconditionally (agape) and be honest and faithful to the person eternally that bring two people to true love. This means fessing up when a mistake is made, seeking forgiveness and forgiving the other partner with love and mercy.”