The Shared Effort of Marriage and 10 Quotes from Pope Francis on Love

Each year around our anniversary, I  take time to reflect on the ways in which I have grown through the last year as a person and as a husband.
I’m always amazed at the growth I can point to in my everyday life, but I am also left challenged by how many more ways I now recognize that I need to improve.Our Wedding

It’s unfortunate that  we build perceptions of people are based off limited information. Outsiders only see the public side of an individual and family, and other are usually completely unaware of the struggles we each face in our lives. No matter how much we wish we had it all together, there’s issues we all have to get through. That’s the truth with all of us. In our broken world, we are all sinners and in desperate need of a savior, and we each have our own crosses to carry. This past year I encountered new challenges that I could have never anticipated, but I have learned plenty through the struggle.

Amoris Laetitia
Amoris Laetitia

Earlier this year, Pope Francis released an Apostolic Exhortation entitled AMORIS LÆTITIA (On Love in the Family) focused on marriage and the family. I hadn’t had time to read through the document, but I found some really great treasures in skimming through it. If you only read a small part of it, please read Chapter Four: Love in Marriage.

I want to reflect on 10 of my favorite quotes about marriage from the document and what they mean to today.

10 Quotes and Lessons from Pope Francis on Marriage

  1. “We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden.”[37]

I can see why some people don’t want to get married. We don’t always do a great job of talking about the beauty in the sacrament. There’s freedom in seeing it as the journey towards heaven instead of the ultimate goal.

2. “We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the centre and expect things to turn out our way. “ [92]

People will let you down, but no one can hurt you on the level that a spouse can because of the depth of love. We’ll always be disappointed if we think they will be any more perfect that we are, but we can trust that we do have the Lord offering His perfect love.

3. Love abhors making others suffer. Courtesy “is a school of sensitivity and disinterestedness” which requires a person “to develop his or her mind and feelings, learning how to listen, to speak and, at certain times, to keep quiet”.(10)… Indeed, the deeper love is, the more it calls for respect for the other’s freedom and the ability to wait until the other opens the door to his or her heart”.(109) [99]

Respect is an essential part of any relationship. The enemy will seek to tempt us to disregard this important part of any family. As much as we are tempted to think it will make us feel better, it never does, and hurts us both.

4. “If, in the first years of marriage, a couple’s experience of love grows stagnant, it loses the very excitement that should be its propelling force. Young love needs to keep dancing towards the future with immense hope.” [219]

I have seen many marriages fail within the first few years, and truth be told, the first years are some of the most challenging in adjusting to living with someone and getting hard and fast lessons in love. It usually happens because of the reasons above, but the little deaths to ourselves lead to a greater happiness in the sacrifice.

Wedding Mosaic - Artist Undetermined
Wedding Mosaic – Artist Undetermined
  1. “The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty. Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship; instead, it can improve, settle and mature the wine of their union.” [232]

It’s almost difficult to express how the challenges actually make us better. It’s somewhat like a piece of art that has greater definition and beauty through the stark contrast of the light and the dark all mixed to make the image.

6. To be open to a genuine encounter with others, “a kind look” is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own. A kind look helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences…  In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another. [100]

When you grow incredibly close to the people you live with, it’s easy to grow so comfortable that you treat them without kindness. It’s almost as if we think it should be assumed. I’ve had to learn that no matter how many times I have said “I love you,” everything else should echo it too.

7. It refers to a violent reaction within, a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided. To nurture such interior hostility helps no one. It only causes hurt and alienation. Indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice; when it permeates our attitude towards others it is harmful. [103]

Resentment is dangerous. When we let it take root inside of our hearts, it really only hurt ourselves. As easy as it seems, this is isn’t a fruit of love.

8. Married couples joined by love speak well of each other; they try to show their spouse’s good side, not their weakness and faults. In any event, they keep silent rather than speak ill of them. This is not merely a way of acting in front of others; it springs from an interior attitude. Far from ingenuously claiming not to see the problems and weaknesses of others, it sees those weaknesses and faults in a wider context. It recognizes that these failings are a part of a bigger picture. We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me. Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. The other person loves me as best they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal. It is real, albeit limited and earthly. If I expect too much, the other person will let me know, for he or she can neither play God nor serve all my needs. Love coexists with imperfection. It “bears all things” and can hold its peace before the limitations of the loved one. [113]

Our spouses will lack perfection in this life, but we can keep hope in our love, no matter how imperfect it can be.  Love endures.

9. “Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary.” [224]

There have been times when I thought focusing on an issue to try to fix it immediately would be the most effective approach, but I have learned that this is very true. Love takes time and space to grow. Letting the Lord nurture it will be the best way to ensure it grows properly.

1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13

10. “Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as the result of a great, shared effort.” [130]

This is a lesson I have learned through old married couples.  After all is said and done, there is beauty in the broken journey, and the joy that comes between two people that have made the love their life’s work.

Thank you Pope Francis for this beautiful document and reminder of what are called to do and be in the sacrament of marriage.


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