We wrap up Chapter Four of Amoris Laetitia with a brief discussion (163-164) on how love is transformed.
First, a helpful acknowledgement that many millions more couples today experience very long relationships. Marriages that once were cut short by death from childbirth, illness, and war now last decades. Are we prepared to review common situations that were once rare, providing new help as needed?
163. Longer life spans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed.
The challenge with the notion of renewal is that the “danger” of not renewing arises. But it need not be so. A relationship between young adults will go through many stages before reaching old age. Partnerships evolve all the time without breaking–why not marriages?
While one of the spouses may no longer experience an intense sexual desire for the other, he or she may still experience the pleasure of mutual belonging and the knowledge that neither of them is alone but has a “partner” with whom everything in life is shared. He or she is a companion on life’s journey, one with whom to face life’s difficulties and enjoy its pleasures. This satisfaction is part of the affection proper to conjugal love. There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life. Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy. The love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling or state of mind, although it may include all of these. It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart. Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage.
This notion of being companions and partners strikes me as quite Ignatian. Are you readers detecting anything else of note? Please comment.