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There is a simple image that is often presented when Christian romantic relationships are discussed.
The idea is simple: the closer each person moves towards God, the closer they grow to each other. Though I have been married for less than a year, as I reflect on it more, I have realized three reasons why this is true.
The closer we are to God, the more joyful we are.
We were made to be in perfect union with God, but the sin of Adam and Eve broke that perfect union. We have an imperfect relationship with God, all the fault laying on our end because God continues to love us infinitely and perfectly. Our souls ache and hunger for Him. The closer we grow to Him, the more joy fills our hearts. Joy is that sense of peace, hope, and contentment that remains within us regardless of the challenges we encounter. That joy radiates.The closer we grow to God, the more joy fills our hearts. Click To Tweet
Our spouses experience that joy and simply put, it is easier to love joyful people. That is not to say it isn’t possible to immensely love people who are unhappy; as someone who suffers from anxiety and depressive episodes, I have been the recipient of genuine love from those around me despite my demeanor. However, I recognize that emotional turmoil can cause strain on relationships, and though it may ultimately strengthen them, having that peaceful joy is also part of a healthy relationship.
Our Vocations, given to us by God, are an expression of love when lived out.
God has a specific plan for each of us to lead us to holiness, and our Vocation is part of that. My Vocation as a wife (and God-willing, a mother) calls me to love Ben (and – hopefully – future children). When I align my will to God’s, it flows naturally that I will love Ben. Ben’s Vocation as a husband (and God-willing, a father) drives him to show love for me (and – hopefully – future children).
Obviously, aligning our wills to God’s will makes us live better, holier lives. The natural fruit of this is a loving marriage. We also recognize that part of our Vocation is to encourage the other person to grow closer to God so they can go to Heaven. One way we express our love for each other is encouraging one another to pray, read the Bible, and receive the sacraments. This again brings us back to how improving our relationship with God instills joy.
The burden of perfect love isn’t placed on imperfect people.
We were made by God who is Love. God made us for perfect love, but we distance ourselves from it through our sinfulness (again, not by God but by us). We still long for that perfect love. Ben and I love each other very, very much, but because we are imperfect people, we will never be capable of giving truly perfect love to each other. If we expect perfect love from each other, we will never be fully satisfied. When we grow closer to God, we are more in tune with His infinite and perfect love. We are more aware and accepting to this perfect love. By recognizing God as the true source of perfect love, we know where to turn for perfect love.God made us for perfect love. Click To Tweet
Though we will never be able to perfectly love each other, removing that expectation of each other actually makes us love each other better. God gives us a model of perfect love that we can strive for in loving our spouse. Seeing how God loves us gives a model for loving each other, and experiencing the love of God makes us love each other better.
I sincerely believe that God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, and I love how Ben and I grow together as we try to love God (and each other) more.
How has growing closer to God made it easier to love others whether it is romantically or through friendship?