An author once asked a pastor who officiated at nearly a thousand weddings..
Can you predict which marriages will survive?
Sometimes, he said. If they are communicating well, they have a good chance. If they have a similar belief system, similar values, they have a good chance.
What about love?
Love they should always have. But love changes.
What do you mean?
Love– the infatuation kind– ‘he’s so handsome, she’s so beautiful’– that can shrivel. As soon as something goes wrong, that kind of love can fly out the window.
On the other hand, a true love can enrich itself. It gets tested and grows stronger. Like in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. You remember? When Tevye sings ‘Do You Love Me?’
When she says, ‘How can you ask if I love you? Look at all I’ve done with you. What else would you call it?’
That kind of love– the kind you realize you already have by the life you’ve created together– that’s the kind that lasts.
I think people expect too much from marriage today, the pastor said. They expect perfection. Every moment should be bliss. That’s TV or movies. But that is not the human experience. Like Sarah (his wife) says, twenty good minutes here, forty good minutes there, it adds up to something beautiful. The trick is when things aren’t so great, you don’t junk the whole thing. It’s okay to have an argument. It’s okay that the other one nudges you a little, bothers you a little. It’s part of being close to someone.
But the joy you get from that same closeness– when you watch your children, when you wake up and smile at each other– that, as our tradition teaches us, is a blessing. People forget that.
Why do they forget it?
Because the word ‘commitment’ has lost its meaning. I’m old enough to remember when it used to be a positive. A committed person was someone to be admired. He was loyal and steady. Now a commitment is something you avoid. You don’t want to tie yourself down.
It’s the same as faith, by the way. We don’t want to get stuck having to go to services all the time, or having to follow all the rules. We don’t want to commit to God. We’ll take Him when we need Him, or when things are going good. But real commitment? That requires staying power– in faith and marriage.
And if you don’t commit?
Your choice. But you miss what’s on the other side.
What’s on the other side?
Ah, the pastor smiled, A happiness you cannot find alone.
– Excerpt from the novel HAVE A LITTLE FAITH by Mitch Albom.
(Thank you for this wonderful novel, Mr. Albom!)
“Our faith is well founded; but it is necessary that this faith become part of our lives. A great effort must therefore be made in order for all Christians to transform themselves into ‘witnesses,’ ready and able to shoulder the commitment of testifying – always and to everyone – to the hope that animates them.”
– Pope Benedict XVI