Hey, pretty girl!
Last semester in Christian Morality, one of the papers we wrote was on the essence of love. An option of the format of the paper was a love letter. Here was mine (it got a 100 btw) …
Dear future spouse (aka Jack),
For some, marriage can often appear to be simply a transaction. I’ve heard friends refer to marriage as a legal bond that helps put one in a more stable financial place, provide citizenship to a partner, or give access to a better health insurance system. And while society emphasizes and idolizes the worldly aspects of a marriage, I would hope that the strength and quality of our love are what matters most to us in a marriage and relationship overall. I strive to create a love that is far more important than the “formality or traditional formula” the government system provides to, the unified version of, us (Francis, Section 123). I want you and I to epitomize the essence of love in our relationship.
I want to strive for this essence of love to be present in our relationship both for our unified happiness, as well as our future children’s happiness. The strength of our spousal relationship will directly correlate to the strength of our family relationships. Our “children [will] not only want” us “to love one another, but also to be faithful and remain together” (Francis, Section 123). Unlike the environment in which I grew up, I never want our children to question if our relationship is healthy and truly eminent of love. Nor would I want them to experience broken family relationships as a result of the spousal relationship. By truly exemplifying the essence of love in our relationship, our future children will be in an environment that demonstrates the importance of love itself.
Now, maintaining a strong love or marriage is not a simple task to manage. There are many necessary elements that must be met, in order for our relationship to have the essence of love. A strong bond between the two of us must come from an intensity that we define for ourselves, based on our own relationship and love needs (Brady, Loc 1759). In order to maintain a healthy relationship that has great longevity, there are a few crucial things that must be present. For me, and hopefully for you as well, what is important in both love and marriage is self-love, freedom, communication, gestures made out of love, growth and delight in one another’s successes.
In order to be able to love one another to the fullest capacity, we must first understand our own self-worth and value, separate from our union as one. The “quality and intensity”of our love is and will be, dependent upon how well prepared we are to be in a relationship with one another in the first place (Brady, p.2). This preparation begins with a basic sense of self-love. Self-love that does not “seek its own interest” is a prerequisite to being able to truly love each other because it allows us to receive the love of others (Francis, Section 101). If one, or both, of us, is incapable of loving ourselves, it would be impossible to accept love from the other partner. This is because a basic self-love allows us to be open to “being loved by others” (Brady, Loc 1803). As a significant other, I not only want you to display love towards me, but also accept the love that I give you in return. When I am displaying love towards you, I want you to accept and know that you are deserving of a healthy relationship. I will also be cognizant of my own self-love so that I can also be accepting and open of the love you display towards me. When both of us have a basic sense of self-love, only then can we truly experience and be open to love in our relationship. Being open to love in our relationship is therefore crucial to epitomize the true essence of love together as one.
Secondly, in our relationship, we must also allow for the independence and freedom of one another. This comes from a basic understanding that each of us is individuals on our own, containing personal freedoms, before we are a couple. This means that in our love, we must be “accepting” of each other, and understand that each of us has personal freedoms that myself or yourself, as a spouse, should not have control over (Francis, Section 92). Accepting each other as individuals with the ability to act freely is a result of our deep compassion for each other. When we give each other freedom, it will allow for both of us to experience more of the world. This is because if we spend every moment together, our experiences will not differ. Therefore, if each of us has a sense of independence, we will not be able to share “the joy” we have received “outside [our] family circle” with one another (Francis, Section 146). This freedom impacts trust. Allowing each other to have personal freedoms creates a space for both “sincerity and transparency” (Francis, Section 115). I understand that in previous relationships there may have been times where trust was violated and that it can be hard to truly trust others. However, I hope to ensure that our openness to sharing the parts of our life that we experience separately, creates a safe and trusting feeling for both of us.
However, this aspect of sharing that comes out of freedom and trust, relies on the ability to properly communicate with one another. Communicating is essential to the expression of love in both a spousal and family relationship. As your partner, I understand that we won’t communicate and act the same way. For this reason, it is important to learn each other’s communication styles. There will be potential differences in our “tone[s],” “timing” and “other factors” that affect how we communicate with each other (Francis, 136). After creating a sense of trust pertaining to personal freedoms asI mentioned previously, we can create a space that encourages true and authentic communication between us. Authentic communication is important to conversing because we can trust each other that the dialogue is in fact, true. Following the creation of a trustworthy conversation space between us, we must understand how each person communicates. Because we have differences, it is important that both of us are willing and open to each other’s points of view. I know that I am not the best at just listening. Prior to our union, as well as during, I will work on my own “self-discipline” so that I am better at attentively listening to you, instead of always inserting my own thoughts and opinions (Francis, Section 137). I hope through effective and attentive communication between one another, that we can solve our hard times together as a team instead of viewing one another as enemies.
Lastly, I want to grow together in our love, as I believe growth as one shows the true essence of love in our relationship. While there may be hard times that we must communicate about, we will endure and overcome our challenges. However, after enduring these challenges, we will “grow in [our] love” (Brady, Loc 1899). As we age together, not only will we mature and grow, but our love should as well. Without growth in our love, we will be at risk of losing our love. Putting God and how God loves at the center of our relationship together, will help us to accomplish this. The best way to enact growth in our relationship will be demonstrating “constant acts of love [and] kindness” (Francis, Section 134). These actions do not have to be overwhelming, time-consuming or expensive. I will show you how I love you through simple acts of service, words of affirmation and giving you quality time. I also understand that as we age, our bodies will not look the same. However, I did not fall in love with your body, I fell in love with your soul, and the “personal identity that first won [my] heart” (Francis, Section 163). Therefore, as your body experiences growth in age, I will still see you and treat you with the affection that I do now. I would ask that as my body also ages, you hold yourself to the same treatment of me as you do right now. While we may change over the years individually and as a couple, this growth is what will help our love mature and deepen into a true essence of love itself.
When processing spending my life united with one other person in marriage, I want it to be because we exemplify the true essence of love, and not because of society’s outward standards imposed upon us. In our love and marriage, I want to recognize the importance of self-love, freedom, communication, gestures made out of love, growth and delight in one another’s successes to the strength of our relationship. With these core values at the center of our relationship, tightly wound with God’s love for us, I know that we can establish a long-lasting and strong love.
Finally, I will love you. I will not love the idea of you, or the perception others have of you. I will love you now, just as you are. And with time, I will continue to love you as we grow and evolve together.