Falling Out Of Love
by Fr. Gerald Kelly
The first practical application of our theory of friendship and sex attraction was the choice of a suitable companion for marriage; the second in the rejection of an unsuitable one. For instance, it may happen that after having read the preceding chapters and been convinced of their truth, you will realize that already your heart has rushed before your head and you are now thoroughly infatuated with a person whom you cannot or should not marry.
This might happen in any of the following cases: You find that he is already married; or that his moral outlook is such that you could scarcely live with him without constant sin, or at least without the most intense mental suffering in trying to avoid sin-- as in the case when one party is an advocate of artificial birth control; or that your religious differences are simply irreconcilable and would create a danger to your own or your children's Faith; or that your general incompatibility is such that the chances are strongly against your achieving any kind of substantial happiness together.
Or it may be that none of these conditions exist, but you are a young college student who has fallen in love, and you now realize the dangers that we have previously pointed out-namely, that a love affair will be exceedingly hard on your profession, will block off the general social good you should now be reaping and will in all likelihood end in sin because of the necessity of prolonging it through several years.
This cold hard fact must be resolutely faced: sometimes love affairs must be broken up. It is seriously wrong to cultivate such a companionship with a married person, even though civilly "divorced." It is seriously wrong to prolong a companionship with a person who would in all likelihood have recourse to contraceptives after marriage. It is seriously wrong to put your own Faith or the Faith of your future children in jeopardy. And generally speaking, it is seriously wrong to enter marriage with a grave risk of substantial unhappiness, because normally we need at least substantial happiness in order to lead a good life.
This does not mean that one may not marry a poor man or a sick man. Such marriages, though they may entail much suffering, can be very happy if the parties have the virtue which makes suffering profitable, but the case of marrying a drunkard, for instance, in order to reform him is different. Experience repeatedly shows that the actual chance of reforming such a person is dangerously close to zero and that the chance of a thoroughly miserable existence is fairly close to 100 percent. That is an extremely grave risk for anyone to take.
Since there are many cases in which the heart must be brought into harmony with the head by breaking off a love affair, we are including here a few suggestions that will prove helpful in accomplishing this difficult task. The first reaction of a lover to our suggestions will probably be to consider them brutally technical and lacking in a sympathetic understanding of the whole problem. We hope that further consideration will tone down this attitude. All the collaborators in this work deal constantly in problems of courtship and marriage. We know that what we advise is hard; but discipline of the emotions is always hard-it cannot be done under an anesthetic.
All the emotions, even love, can be controlled. It is important that one who has to accomplish the difficult task of tearing his heart away from a person with whom he is infatuated should realize that. It has been done countless times; it is being done every day. Even those who have not the supernatural aids offered by the Church do it. So, before everything else, convince yourself that you can and will break with this unsuitable party. Pray for this grace of conviction and offer some little self-denial to obtain the grace, and then resolutely follow these three rules.
RULE 1: Separate Physically From the Party:
This means no dates, no telephone calls, no correspondence. You cannot discipline an emotion while constantly feeding it on the things that stimulate it. And, in regard to these things, beware of that "just once more" temptation; it simply makes final control all the more difficult. On the positive side: go out with others, lead a wholesome general social life and conquer the temptation to crawl into a shell.
RULE II: Separate Mentally From the Party:
Physical separation will not help a great deal if you continually feed your imagination on reminders. Go, do not think of the person deliberately; do not continually bathe yourself in self-pity; and do not start hating the person, because that may be only a subtle way of keeping your heart attached to him. On the positive side: get rid of such reminders as letters, the lock of hair, the pictures, other souvenirs; think of other interesting and engrossing things and people.
RULE III: Keep a Balanced Mental Attitude:
You will be inclined to become moody, and this must be counteracted by good sense. It is important to be convinced, quietly but firmly, that you are giving this person up completely. Hence, no compromising by seeking various foolish outlets: for example, seeking solace in sin, or drink, or in marrying someone else just for spite, and so forth. Keep a sense of humor, and do not take thoughts of the priesthood or the religious life too seriously. Things like this are sometimes the occasions of special vocations; but that is not extremely likely, so one should not get sentimental over the thought of hiding in a convent or laboring in some mission field till sheer fatigue brings desolate death. If one is eligible for marriage and not adverse to it, he (or she) ought to he convinced that there are in this world many acceptable marriage companions. It is not such a silly idea to pray for the right person.
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Copyright © Gerald Kelly. Reproduced with permission of Fusion International. All rights reserved.