Is marriage at all different from buying a car?
In this day and age, it would seem that it isn’t necessarily...
Looking at the way we live today, marriage can sometimes resemble a kind of transaction. Maybe a special kind of transaction, one that is a little different, a little more important, but a transaction nonetheless, like buying a car.
It begins with advertising. After all, a person looking for a relationship needs to present himself or herself as an attractive commodity. It is necessary to display all of one's strengths, and delicately cover up any weaknesses. This stage can take different forms. Sometimes you wear more chic clothes, sometimes more defiant ones; make-up is useful, as well as an athletic body and a fancy Facebook profile. Competition is fierce, so marketing must be strong. There is no room for mediocrity.
Needless to say, a meeting also has to happen. It is necessary to find a person who will finally fulfill all my desires, my expectations and my needs. It would be best if this could be done in the most pleasant way for me. After all, this is about me and my happiness! It is about my future! If one of the primary functions of marriage is to be my sexual fulfillment, it would be a good idea to find out beforehand if I am going to be happy in this area. After all, nothing helps more in choosing a car than a test drive.
If both sides are satisfied, then a deal can eventually be reached. Ideally, it should be for an indefinite period of time. It is true that in the past such transactions were made for life, but after all, the market is changing. We cannot stop it. After all, thanks to the mechanisms of the market, thanks to healthy competition, we can continually increase our satisfaction with subsequent transactions.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Word says to us: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh."
What is Christ speaking about here? Something that we very often forget. He is speaking about an idea that this world so often knows nothing about. It is the gift. And not just any gift, but the most beautiful one possible: the self-gift.
When two people desire to become one, there is no longer any room for "mine" and "yours." Everything is "ours". There is no more room for looking only at one's own benefit, creating balances or calculations. The nature of true love is simple: it gives itself in its entirety. It gives itself and expects nothing in return.
And this is where the language of our market ends: these are things that are completely foreign to it. Self-gift and transactions are completely different realities. Whether we want it or not, only an attitude of self-giving is able to build a relationship that is truly fulfilling for us.
So, let's learn to be a gift. Let's stop focusing only on our own benefits, needs and expectations. Let's forget about ourselves for a moment and recognize in the other a human being. Let us see someone for whom we can be a gift.
Br. Pawel Buczek, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE