Torstai 15.11.2018
Minä tiedän, että lunastajani elää. Hän sanoo viimeisen sanan maan päällä. Job 19:25

Blog: Marital love is not self-evident

in English 30.3.2017 08:47 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
There seems to be current media interest in couples who have lived together for a long time. Journalists marvel at them as something special and inquire about the secret recipe for their exceptionally long-lasting love.
There are also published lists of tips for a good couple relationship and lists of signs presumed to indicate that the couple relationship is over and that it would be better for the spouses to divorce. Lists titled like ”The ten signs indicating that your marriage is over” tell the readers that it is OK to give up and go in search of something better. They downright encourage this attitude.

When I was younger, I considered the permanence of marriage and the constancy of marital love self-evident. In childhood already I had seen that people who cherish faith, hope and charity in their lives can overcome even great difficulties. It was only when the initial rapture of my own marriage began to fade and we were faced by our first crises that I started to ponder more about these matters and to define my own attitude and commitment to marriage and marital love. Up until that point, everything had been straightforward and easy. I had believed that our marriage simply has to last, that we will stay married never mind what. But then I realized that my decision to marry had been voluntary, and that my decision to live in marriage is also voluntary. This was an important insight for me, as it meant that I am not a victim of circumstances, that my life is not defined by some unwritten rules or by other people’s opinions, but that I myself choose the way I want to live. It was also clear to me that I want to make choices that help me keep my faith.

In family life all things are interrelated. When people live close to each other and are committed to one another both biologically and emotionally, family life is permeated by a myriad of emotions and feelings. We are mirrors for each other, reflecting one another through our own internal worlds. That provides us a unique opportunity to develop and grow as persons but also to rest, rely and relax. I believe that all families, as well as friendships, undergo a variety of emotional states. We like, love and admire people, but may quickly also feel bored, angry or resentful.

With our emotional fluctuations we are not always capable of respect, appreciation or love of each other. Not even when we want and try to be. I find over and over again that family life challenges the egotism and self-indulgence in me. I must often downright force myself to leave my inner world and lift up my gaze to those around me. And I also need to seek new content for my life from them and be careful not to concentrate only on my hobbies or work or the endless wonders of the online world.

Marriage and family life make us face our deepest emotions and fears, because we are most exposed and bare in these close and intimate relationships. Friendships are different. Even in close friendships we are less exposed and less visible than in our family. Our family and spouse see us on all kinds of days, even when we would prefer to be alone and hide from other people. I think this actually makes marriage an excellent opportunity for us to get to know ourselves, to examine our strengths and weaknesses against another person. I know that not all marriages provide the spouses with experiences of intimacy and appreciation. And in even good marriages the spouses are sometimes distant or angry with each other. If that happens, selfishness, unidentified fears or the enemy of the souls have broken something very precious. In addition to apologizing and forgiving, it is important to be able to discuss everything, even difficult matters that may involve guilt, shame and other painful emotions.

I feel that my current way of thinking about marital love presupposes humility. I humbly recognize that love is never self-evident but a great gift, a gift that does not automatically remain beautiful, as does a beautiful painting received as a Christmas present. I think that I need to work hard for my marriage, to look often into the mirror, to be able to come half the way to meet my spouse and, most importantly, to humble myself to ask for forgiveness, in order to keep our marital love untarnished and beautiful.

Text: Mari Karhumaa
Translation: S.-L. Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

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