Recently, I had the opportunity to go see a play at the “Festival Theatre” in Stratford, Ontario; the play that I saw was Thornton Wilder’s
, a very entertaining comedy. After seeing the play, some interesting points for reflection emerged, but I will limit myself to only one of these with the limited space.
This point might have been very obvious in the 1930s – when the play was written – but it is not so obvious today: when couples dated, they went into the relationship with the hope of finding a companion for life; that is, with the hope of finding a good husband or wife. When people dated, the partner that they dated was closely “scrutinized” because the goal was marriage. Good habits were sought after: whether the person loved family life, or whether he or she came from a good family, what are his or her religious views, etc. All these were because they had the long-term goal in mind. In short, a relationship was formed with another for the sake of a possible marriage.
I found this interesting because this is very seldom the case nowadays. It seems that people go into relationships not necessarily because they think their partner will eventually be a future spouse, but rather for various reasons. Many enter a relationship for pleasure’s sake, while others have a need to have a partner because of a fear of loneliness. Whatever the reason, rarely do people commit to relationships with the hope of eventually marrying that person.
The approach illustrated in The Matchmaker is compelling because one does not toy with the emotions and psychological well-being of the other; respect for the other is held in high regards. If one approaches a relationship in all seriousness with the greatest respect for the other, then it is very likely that any possible break-ups will be amicable with both parties parting ways in relative consolation, and both will be wiser after the experience. If, on the other hand, one is merely looking for fun and games, then if one’s partner gets “boring”, there is a great temptation to abruptly end the relationship while having little concern for the emotional state of the other, eliciting much hurt in the process.
As Christians, we believe that there are essentially two states of life: the married life and the consecrated life. If we are indeed called to marriage, we have to realize that this is a sacred endeavour that is meant to be for life – a commitment to another, for better and for worse. Our vocation to marriage is then a serious matter and, just like the call to the consecrated life, it should be approached through prayer. For this reason, healthy Christian couples bring God into the relationship; they often pray for each other and frequently ask the Lord for confirming signs that their partner is the one for them. This, however, takes spiritual maturity, a willingness from both parties to have a prayer life and not be afraid of sharing with each other the fruits of each other’s prayers.
It is a good spiritual exercise, then, to ask ourselves why we enter into relationships. What are our intentions? It is possible that our intentions call for some purification; are we willing to be open to God’s purifying Grace and allow ourselves to be set free from that which binds us? May the Lord bless all our relationships and provide his Church with healthy marriages! Praised be His name for ever! Amen.