Emotional Love

I was saddened again this week to hear of two broken hearts of sons of friends. One was a marriage of less than two years and the other a live-in relationship of 14 months with joint house ownership. In both cases, a lady had declared her undying love during a marriage ceremony or on a house deed, and then admitted a short time later that love had died.

Another friend spoke of joy on being told he’d be a grandfather, but when he asked, “are there marriage plans?” he was told, “No. All of our friends have gotten divorced and we don’t want to have to go through the pain if things don’t work out.”

So much for “unto death do us part.”

In the book Human Person- Dignity Beyond Compare, Sister Terese Auer, O.P. borrows from the teachings of Pope John Paul II in contrasting emotional love with love caused by free will.

“In the eyes of a person sentimentally committed to another person, the value of the beloved object grows enormously---as a rule out of all proportion to his or her real value. It is precisely this subjective basis of sentimentality which is the cause of disillusionment for the lover. The lover eventually finds out that the beloved is not the person the lover thought him to be.”

Emotional love is in sharp contrast to love caused by the will. Emotional love originates spontaneously and develops quickly, depends on emotions and is based upon a value that comes from the lover. Love caused by the will originates deliberately and develops over time, with effort, depends on free will and is objectively based on a value that comes from the one loved. That is, he must know the true value of the goodness of the person himself.

Sister Auer continues, “In order to love another, a person must know the truth about who the other is so that they can form a relationship with them. Without this objective dimension, the lover is unable to go out of himself to unite in love with the other person.”

“Love caused by the free will occurs when a person wills a good for the other person just as he wills it for himself, “I desire a good for you just as I desire it for myself, for my own, “I”…Your “I” necessarily becomes in some sense mine, lives within my “I” as well as within itself. This is the meaning of the word ‘friendship.’”

I don’t pretend to know the circumstances of the couples I’ve mentioned, neither the bonds that were broken, or the lack of desire to commit to marriage, but based upon my experiences, both people must get past emotional love and be able to love with their free wills for the union to endure.

In this era of “instant everything”, are we settling for emotional love which rarely lasts, instead of making the effort to develop a love caused by free will which will endure forever?

Blessings, my friend,

(click below for MP3 file)