Today I present to you a romantic short film about a journalist who falls in love with a girl in the comics section. And yes, this is an appropriate topic for a Catholic Resources website. I believe there are some elements in this short film worth reflecting upon.
First, we must accept that love, lived seriously, changes our plans. The journalist in the short film prefers to live in the news section, he’s comfortable there, but in reality he doesn’t have anything to write or talk about, there’s nothing of worth in his life, until he shares it with someone else. And he finds a way to share it through love. We cannot build anything in a relationship, especially in marriage, if we don’t go out and give of ourselves. It’s not about giving up our own wishes and desires. We must express them just like the other person has the right to express his or hers. It is about building something new through the coexistence between two people who “[…] are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mt 19:6).
In a relationship, we don’t stop being ourselves. We don’t change what’s deep in our heart, what we are. The journalist doesn’t abandon the news section to go live in the comics section, nor does the girl leaves the comics section to live in the news section, but together they set out on a new adventure. They haven’t stopped being themselves, but have gone beyond themselves, and this enriches them, as we can see when the journalist learns from the comics girl and starts using the newspaper characters and symbols. We can and must share our opinions and express our wishes: we have much to share, giving up sincerity is giving up a healthy relationship. That’s how gradually, little by little, we’ll be able to know if we must really take the next step toward marriage.
We need sacrifice. Yes, sacrifice. We must not be afraid of this word. Let’s be realistic, even if we’re in love we can think differently, it’s basically impossible that two people agree on everything. If we come together with another person for life, it’s normal to have disagreements, problems, and of course, there will be times when we’ll have to give in. It seems nice how the journalist gives up the article he had been working on in order to save the girl from falling into the precipice, but everyday life situations are not as extreme or as clear as this. In the end, if the relationship leads to marriage, husband and wife will have to decide whether to go on vacation or save the money, where to go if they decide to go on vacation, what’s the ideal moment to visit their relatives, how to conduct the family’s finances, or how to educate their children. It’s important to express our opinion, but we must also know that sometimes we’ll have to get out of our little “newspaper section.”
From an egocentric view of happiness, many times we have turned our relationships into remedies to our solitude or our lack of personal autonomy (for instance, those men who admit they want to get married so they can have someone to “cook for them and do their laundry”). To feel wanted and needed, but not to love. But love is, above all, sacrifice.
“I think […] of the fears associated with permanent commitment, the obsession with free time, and those relationships that weigh costs and benefits for the sake of remedying loneliness, providing protection, or offering some service. We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye. Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs. Yet sooner or later, those who use others end up being used themselves, manipulated and discarded by that same mind-set. It is also worth noting that breakups often occur among older adults who seek a kind of “independence” and reject the ideal of growing old together, looking after and supporting one another” (Amoris Laetitia, 39).
But we could also be willing to do great things for love and even make more subtle sacrifices. Little acts of love and self-denial, like asking someone how his or her day is going, and giving up some of our time to listen to her or him. To try to understand the other and not only hear him or her, even if we don’t find their talk interesting. Or giving up that free afternoon to help with the house chores. These are, in a way, subtle sacrifices. They don’t turn us into heroes, we’re not saving anyone from falling off a cliff. Nevertheless, this is precisely how a marriage is built day by day: mutually donating ourselves in the little things, paying attention to the needs of the other. All this starts before marriage, during the first stages of the relationship: like when we go to the movies and choose a movie we don’t like only because we know that we’re with that other person that would love to see that movie. When we make those seemingly insignificant sacrifices for love, and not in a selfish attempt to buy someone’s love, then we’re on the right path.
When we start taking others into consideration, when we achieve some degree of reciprocity and both parts give and receive, then the relationship starts to move forward. It might be successful like in the video, but to us, Christians, what matters is something else: to stay together and be able to live in harmony, supporting one another in order to be better Christians (and, why not, saints!), as a result of mutual love put into practice.
This post was contributed to Catholic-Link by guest author, Giovanni Martini, and originally appeared for Catholic-Link Spanish, here. It was translated into English by Lorena Tabares.