Love is Not Blind (and other important lessons)
by Arleen Spenceley
As both a writer who dissects the dynamics of relationships, and a woman with a respect and interest in matrimony, I spend a lot of time with my head buried in books about the sacrament of marriage.
Most recently I’ve read, Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von Hildebrand. It is short but it is important. Via its quick 77 pages, I learned a set of epic lessons—lessons vital for people who hope for a holy, happy marriage.
Here are three of them:
1. Love is not blind.
“Love is blind” is the adage that usually implies that love is why we wind up with each other, despite red flags or bad habits. But according to von Hildebrand’s book, that isn’t true.
Instead, he wrote, “love is that which gives us sight, revealing to us even the faults of the other in their full import and causing us to suffer because of them.”
Love keeps us committed despite disappointments.
It isn’t love, in other words, that distracts us from what would disappoint us about the beloved. It is love that keeps us committed despite disappointments. Where else but in love are we open to such closeness that our faults and sins by default become apparent?
Still, we must choose wisely who to love within the context of marriage. Love is not blind, but it is prudent—it compels us to think ahead, to consider whether a relationship with a potential mate is healthy, and whether it can make us holier.
And when it can, and we enter marriage, we will see those faults and sins in each other. But it is love that will result in our commitment, regardless.
2. Love is not designed to preserve marriage.
Marriage, however, is designed to preserve love. It is an environment provided to us in which we can maintain (and when necessary, fight for) the love that brought us together.
The book puts it like this: “marriage braces spouses to fight to save the precious gift of their love. It gives them the glorious confidence that with God’s help, they will overcome the difficulties and emerge victorious.”
The book does not imply that you should get married because marriage will save your relationship (please do not do that; it won’t). The point, instead, is that your current love for each other is not what will make your marriage last.
The fact that you love each other today is not what results in a holy, lifelong union. No—it is your promise to love each other in the future, even when you don’t feel like it, and your decision to keep that promise, that will make your marriage last, in spite of the hardships you’ll face with each other.
3. Love is not risk-free.
How often in dating are our decisions rooted in fear? You know the sort—the long distance relationship we won’t entertain, because of risk: will the cost to travel for a while be worth it?
Or the person we won’t ask out, because of risk: he or she might say no.
The person we won’t commit to, because of risk: what if tomorrow, I meet somebody “better”?
The person we won’t dump but should, because of risk: if I let this one go, I might not meet another.
But von Hildebrand reminds us: “All great things on earth are connected with risk. Without risk, human life—in statu viae—would be deprived of all grandeur and heroism.”
He wrote, too, that every love “carries with it a great risk of suffering.”
But we are called to love because of Christ, in whose own suffering he has exemplified his love for us. And if we are called to love another in a marriage, reasonable risk will not be avoidable in our searches for spouses.
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Originally published January 17, 2016.