In Church circles, one sometimes hears phrases like “lifelong catechesis” or “continuing conversion” The implication is that we are never a finished product. In marriage, this is also likely to apply.
Pope Francis calls on Thomas Aquinas to present the notion in a very positive way:
134. All this occurs through a process of constant growth. The very special form of love that is marriage is called to embody what Saint Thomas Aquinas said about charity in general. “Charity”, he says, “by its very nature, has no limit to its increase, for it is a participation in that infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit… Nor on the part of the subject can its limit be fixed, because as charity grows, so too does its capacity for an even greater increase”.(Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 24, art. 7) Saint Paul also prays: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another” (1 Th 3:12), and again, “concerning fraternal love… we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more” (1 Th 4:9-10). More and more! Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace. A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God’s grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful. Husbands and wives “become conscious of their unity and experience it more deeply from day to day”.(Gaudium et Spes, 48) The gift of God’s love poured out upon the spouses is also a summons to constant growth in grace.
Too often our culture of reason (which, sadly, infects the Church more deeply than some realize) thinks of love and relationships as a zero-sum affair. The more I give, the less I have. If I gave everything to my marriage, there would be nothing left of me. This presumes enough of a maturity to be able to give without expectation of return and without an intentional erasure of ourselves. What do you think?
Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.