I have been writing a series of blog posts titled, “The Pathway to Love,” discussing how to navigate the relationship pathway when discerning marriage.
My first post dealt with self-esteem and loving yourself. My next post had to do with truth as a core foundation of love. Then, in Stage 1 on the Pathway, we looked at the power and beauty of attraction along with some of the pitfalls. We have also examined dating, discerning marriage and the importance of not rushing our relationships.
Now we arrive at Stage 2: “Love as Desire.” Desire is another aspect of love. We are not talking about the sexual urge of desire, but the true desire for another person in relationship. This is the desire to be a complete and whole human being.
I once heard that Adam was created a whole person, both male and female, but when Eve was taken from his side, they became two different sexes. Now both sexes are continually seeking to find completeness. They are looking to become the whole person God is calling them to be.
That is why, in a special way, we seek companionship and marriage. We see a person of the opposite sex as a “good” for ourselves, says Pope John Paul II, in his book Love and Responsibility, and we seek to enter into a deeper relationship with that person.
Perhaps this is why people say that “opposites attract.” It is common for us to desire those qualities that we do not possess in order to seek fullness.
I know my strengths have helped my wife in areas she needed to grow, and her strengths and virtues have also aided me to become a better person. We grow together and we can learn from each other. This complementarity is something wonderful.
While opposites sometimes attract, they can also attract for the wrong reasons! Take an overly shy woman who has great trouble being assertive. Then along comes a strong, assertive, take-charge man who suddenly looks very appealing to her. Instead of overcoming her struggles and learning to speak up for herself (for example, to her boss and landlord who are taking advantage of her), she may desire to have her assertive boyfriend speak on her behalf.
It may seem like a good match originally, but by being dependent, she will never grow, learn to communicate, be assertive, or stand up for herself. Thus, she will remain stunted as a person. Yes, she desires a boyfriend, but for the wrong reasons. We must be very careful with doctor/patient relationships like this.
We must beware of the counterfeit: codependency. Some people believe that marriage will solve their loneliness issues or will bring meaning to their seemingly boring meaningless lives.
However, only God can truly make us happy, fill our hearts, and make our lives complete! It would be a mistake to replace God with a human being. This expectation will always fail and end in disillusionment. We need to walk and grow side by side with our life partner and not be desperately dependent on them or overly needy.
There is a difference between learning from each other’s strengths and growing together, and then becoming dependent on another person—or visa versa. We need to become our own full person, a person fully alive, the whole person God has called us to be! So, that even if we remained single for our whole life, we would still be working to better ourselves daily.
It is important to find healthy individuals who are their own person first, and who can stand on their own two feet. They are already working on their own problems, vices, and shortcomings, and are making progress.
For example, if they aren’t good at communication or showing affection, they don’t make excuses for it, they work toward fixing the problem. The same goes for us too.
After all, marriage is a lifelong endeavor of helping each other get to heaven and become better people. Therefore, it is so important to find someone who shares the same morals, values, standards, and desires for your faith that you do.
Not only do they share them, but they are actively working toward them in their own lives.
Two healthy people who share a common vision and who grow and learn together will help to make a lasting marriage.
It will also make the journey to heaven more beautiful and enjoyable.