Promises of love

by Grenville Phillips II

Amendments to the Family Law Act are currently being debated to address the problems that can attend the breakdown of family relationships. Permit me to share my opinion on this matter.

Marriage can be a satisfying and exciting life-journey for a man and a woman who love each other. However, the significant number of persons who are in, or have left unfulfilled marriages indicates that there was a fundamental problem with their marriage preparation.

The dreaded phrase “I just don’t love you anymore” is common among those who mistook their intense feelings of attraction as love. This is a very easy mistake to make because popular songs, novels and movies define love as strong feelings of attraction. If these feelings are felt by both parties, then they are said to be “in-love” with each other, and are expected to “do” something about it.

Attraction is not love, neither is it a component of love. Attraction is a feeling which enables us to bond with each other and its intensity can fade. However, love is a set of four promises. The promises for the man follow.

Promise number 1 is to accept her exactly as she is right now, with everything that he knows and does not know about her – and there is much that he does not know.

Promise number 2 is to accept everything about her as she ages – for better or worse, richer or poorer, health or sickness for as long as they both shall live. He promises to accept her even if she is later disfigured by an accident or crippled by an illness.

Promise number 3 is to forgive her. Since neither of them is perfect, they will fail to meet each other’s expectations and will need to depend on each others’ forgiveness.

Promise number 4 is to encourage her passions and encourage improvement in areas of weaknesses. Encouragement replaces attraction as the primary force in their relationship. Without it, the relationship has little purpose and it will quickly get boring after the attraction fades.

The couple who is ready to make and keep their promises of love is ready to get married. When they keep them, they demonstrate their love for each other. After they formally make their promises at their wedding, they complete or consummate their promises with sexual intercourse. Every time that they subsequently have sexual intercourse, they reinforce their promises – it is truly a wonderful and mutually satisfying physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience.

The problem is that if they have sexual intercourse before making their promises, then he shows her that he is capable of justifying forsaking her for a younger and shapelier rival when she get older. If he is able to restrain himself when his attraction for her is at its highest, then he shows her that he is capable of resisting the rival that will inevitably come. Spouses of those with no intention of keeping their promises are destined to endure a life sentence of misery.

A wise single woman allows a man to prove to her and himself that he is both willing and capable of keeping his promises. A wise married woman allows her husband to achieve the highest levels of performance in any area where she meaningfully encourages him.

* Grenville Phillips II is president of Walbrent College and author of Attraction is a feeling. Love is a promise.

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