Today there’s less and less talk about faithfulness. It’s enough to listen to certain conversations to confirm a very different climate: «For our vacation we each went our own way», «my spouse has a date, it’s hard for me to accept, but what can I do?», «it’s that I’m bored with just my husband».
Some couples consider love to be something spontaneous. If it sprouts and keeps living, all’s well. If it grows cold and disappears, then living together ends up intolerable. Therefore what’s best is to separate «like civilized people».
Not all react this way. There are couples who realize that they no longer love each other, but they stay together, without being able to explain exactly why. They just ask themselves how long could that situation last. There are also those who have found a love outside of their marriage and feel so attracted by that new relationship that they don’t want to let it go. They don’t want to lose anything, neither the marriage nor that extramarital love.
The situations multiply and frequently are painful. Women who weep secretly their abandonment and humiliation. Husbands who get bored of an unbearable relationship. Saddened children who suffer the lack of affection of their parents.
These couples don’t need a ‘recipe’ to get out of their situation. That would be way too easy. The first thing they could offer is respect, discrete listening, strength to live and maybe a clear word of orientation. However it could be timely to remember some fundamental steps that it’s always necessary to take.
First don’t give up on dialogue. You need to clarify the relationship. Disclose sincerely what you feel and live each day. Try to understand what lies hidden behind that growing discomfort. Discover what isn’t working. Give a name to so many mutual grievances that have been accumulating without ever being brought to light.
But dialogue isn’t enough. Certain crises don’t get resolved without generosity and a spirit of honesty. If each one encloses self in a posture of stingy selfishness, the conflict gets worse, spirits get tense and what one day was love can become a secret hate and mutual aggression.
You need to remember also that love is lived in ordinary life and repeated in daily things. Each day lived together, each joy and suffering shared, each problem lived as a couple, give real consistency to love. Jesus’ phrase: «What God has joined, let no one separate», places demands long before the break comes, since the couples go about separating themselves little by little, in the life of each day.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf