Gathered in our home were 5.5 couples (one husband could not make it) to support each other in trying to live as Christian husbands and wives. Married for as long as three years or as briefly as three months, these men and women want to live out the promises they made before God and witnesses.
- We promised to give ourselves totally to each other.
- We promised to be completely faithful to each other.
- We promised we were free to join to each other.
- We promised our marriage would be fruitful.
These are the bedrock FREE, FAITHFUL, FRUITFUL, TOTAL tenets of today’s Catholic marriage prep that builds on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Everybody says they want an authentic Christian marriage, and most of us are sincere in that desire.
But it is so hard to be that way day in and day out. Total is a scary word, for it leaves no room for my ego. Faithful does not just mean sexually faithful but totally faithful. We can be bound in love, but only because we freely bind ourselves to each other. And we must embrace the reality that the marital act should never employ artificial methods to block the possibility of life. We chose when we said “I Do” to live vulnerably, to live intimately with our beloved. The world does not support this, despite what it says. We must be strong enough to live as strangers in a strange land.
We need tools and tips to live as strangers bound in love in a strange land that does not understand the fullness of love. One we talked about was the concept of love languages, which was made famous by Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages.”
Chapman suggests we can identify from these five ways the method that we really feel the love our beloved is trying to say, “I love you.”
- Words of Affirmation – when my beloved tells me he appreciates me for who and what I am, I am filled with his love
- Quality Time – when my beloved will sit with me while we do nothing in particular, I am filled with her love
- Gift Giving – when my beloved finds a little something and makes a present of it for me, I am filled with his love
- Physical Touch – when my beloved will hold my hand or give me a hug, I am filled with her love
- Acts of Service – when my beloved will do the laundry or clean up the closet, I am filled with his love
We talked about these love languages and then shared which one was primary for our spouse. (And then we confirmed we had it right or got corrected.) As husbands and wives, we want to say “I love you” in the way that our beloved will best hear the message. Just being willing to speak in his love language is participation in the free, faithful, fruitful, total tenets. Love is rarely complicated. It is usually simple. That doesn’t make it easy.