Pope Francis released a 256-page document on Friday titled “Amoris Laetitia,” or The Joy of Love,” in which he offers up some solid advice for those of us who could use a little help in the love department. And, if we’re being honest, that’s all of us.
Yes, we were skeptical at first too. After all, how could a 79-year-old man who has vowed to live a life of celibacy know anything about romantic relationships? Well, he does. He clearly knows a lot about people in general, and that has helped him form a masterful understanding of not only our habits that often lead to splits, but also our struggles in the bedroom. Oh yes, he goes there!
His words and advice show a shift in the Catholic church with regards to relationships, namely that divorced men and women may not go to Hell after all, but sadly, there’s still no love for gay marriage.
There is always room for growth though, and no matter what kind of relationship you find yourself in, we bet you can benefit from some of Pope Francis’ surprisingly modern pearls of wisdom. We pulled some highlights for you because for some, having to read 256-pages is a bigger commitment than their relationships themselves. Read on, and let your relationships flourish!
Perfection isn’t real.
“We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me. Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. The other person loves me as best they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal.”
Be interesting, for God’s sake!
“For a worthwhile dialogue we have to have something to say. This can only be the fruit of an interior richness nourished by reading, personal reflection, prayer and openness to the world around us. Otherwise, conversations become boring and trivial. When neither of the spouses works at this, and has little real contact with other people, family life becomes stifling and dialogue impoverished.”
Trust is essential.
“This goes beyond simply presuming that the other is not lying or cheating. … It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. This freedom, which fosters independence, an openness to the world around us and to new experiences, can only enrich and expand relationships.”
Connections take time (AKA he doesn’t like Tinder)
“I think, for example, of the speed with which people move from one affective relationship to another. They believe, along the lines of social networks, that love can be connected or disconnected at the whim of the consumer, and the relationship quickly ‘blocked. 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.”
Be like wine. Delicious, expensive wine.
“Just as a good wine begins to ‘breathe’ with time, so too the daily experience of fidelity gives married life richness and ‘body.’ Fidelity has to do with patience and expectation.”
Open your eyes to your partner’s efforts.
“A look of appreciation has enormous importance, and to begrudge it is usually hurtful. How many things do spouses and children sometimes do in order to be noticed! Much hurt and many problems result when we stop looking at one another. Love opens our eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being.”
Argue if necessary, but with compassion and grace.
“Making a point should never involve venting anger and inflicting hurt. A patronizing tone only serves to hurt, ridicule, accuse and offend others. Many disagreements between couples are not about important things. Mostly they are about trivial matters. What alters the mood, however, is the way things are said or the attitude with which they are said.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s obvious that Pope Francis wants more love in the world, which is always a beautiful thing to strive for.