I sat around the kitchen table and watched my grandmother open her mother’s day gifts from my mom. I couldn’t help but notice the way that she showed my grandfather every gift that she pulled out of the gift basket. When she was done reading the card, she passed it my grandfather so he could read it too.
I remembered at that moment a conversation that I had with my mom about them months before. She told me “They have always done everything together, even grocery shopping was something that they would use to be together… even after decades of marriage they still do these little things together”. My mom told me about the way that all of her siblings could see how in love their parents were. Today I saw what it means that “the two become one”. My grandparents love one another in such a way that if you give a gift to one, it becomes a gift to the other as well.
My mom’s stories left me starry eyed and dreaming of a future where I could experience the same kind of love. My grandparents have been married for over 50 years and I can feel my grandparents love for one another whenever I am around them.
Unfortunately, the basis for many contemporary relationships is not this type of dedication and intentionality. It seems as though our culture is endorsing a lax desire for closeness without sacrifice. It encourages a fear of losing friends, of changing habits, and, in extreme cases, losing yourself. All of these fears are directed at young couples and try to suppress any real kind of holy sacrifice or effort that they might put into a relationship.
Young people are settling for relationships which are contained within the sphere of their own home or even just through their cell phones. Our relationships have somehow moved from excitement, sacrifice, love, and romance to a kind of objective, boring, semi friendship mixed with the utmost intimacy.
The prevalence of the “Netflix and Chill” culture is poisoning modern relationships.
The only way that our generation can overcome this twisted norm of relationships which seem so gray and unexciting is by dating. Like honestly, GO ON DATES. It can be hard to really get to truly know and fall in love with someone if your relationship is founded on bodily intimacy and only spending time together behind closed doors.
St John reminds us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (John 4:18)
So be bold and intentional within your relationships. You may be thinking “well I’m broke and there is nothing to do near me”. While that may be valid, dating isn’t just about going to fancy dinners or events together. Make your daily routines inclusive of the other; go to the store, grab a burger, take a mini day trip, go to daily mass together and then cook breakfast.
Whatever it is that you do, make it a date by paying complete attention to the other. Let car rides be something that draws you closer to one another, allow anything that you need to do throughout the day become a new way of getting to know the other person.
My grandparents would probably not have been able to maintain their beautiful love for one another if they never did anything together in public. Relationships are not shameful or anything that should be concealed from the world. Our human relationships that are oriented towards marriage glorify God if we allow them to.
It is when couples do things side by side that they get a chance to learn very real things about one another. Favorite sports, favorite coffee shop, the way they interact with their friends and family, how you work together to deal with the little bumps in the road that will undoubtedly come up, how they goof off whenever they have too much sugar, what their relationship with God looks like.. You learn where your personalities are in sync and where there is friction and a need for compromise. These are all things which encourage love and understanding between people.
While intentionally getting out and dating someone does not 100% of the time lead to marriage, it gives your relationship the best effort that it can be given.
Do not let fear of commitment or rejection keep you from experiencing a good, healthy, honest relationship. Enable your relationship become an example and inspiration for generations to come.
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness”. Let your relationships be great. Reject the comfort of non-commitment that is so endorsed by our culture.
I am praying for all of you as you form and maintain holy relationships.
God loves you so much and so do I.
1 Corinthians 13