In 1981 the divorce law was passed in Spain, which established certain causes for which people could get divorced. 24 years later would come what we know as express divorce lawAccording to the law, it is not necessary to allege any cause. As we have heard and read on countless occasions, it is easier to get divorced than to unsubscribe from the cell phone line. Nowadays many people accept without blinking realities such as sex without love, pornography or even polyamory. Nowadays, loving a person for the rest of our lives is not an easy task, because, otherwise, we would not be talking about the current divorce rate in Spain (60 %).
There is one issue in which I believe we have made giant strides in recent decades. Men contribute much more than before in the family sphere and women do the same in the work sphere. This is a great richness that we must continue to improve.
Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia says that, up to now, we Christians have often shown little capacity to show ways of happiness. I believe that we Christians are called to set a good example. Example of unconditional love. Example of imperfect families that sometimes we do things wrong but we do not lose the illusion of doing them well and we try to put means to achieve it.
Christians have two means of struggle in this life, the natural and the supernatural. And we have to use both. The supernatural ones are prayer and the Sacraments. The natural ones, in this area, are those that consist in taking advantage of the wisdom of people who have studied marriage and the family deeply and extensively and who have wonderful advice to make the path much easier for us. An example of this is to take advantage of the content of the digital Congress. Love talkson sexuality and affectivity.
Among the books I recommend are The 7 principles of marriages that work by John Gotmann. Spectacular the distinction he makes between perpetual and solvable problems in couples. What a great study he did and how much it can help us in our day to day lives.
Another is The 5 love languagesby Gary Chapman, which talks about how the secret to a love that lasts is in speaking our partner's emotional language rather than our own. There are five languages that express love: words of affirmation, physical contact, gifts, acts of service and quality time. We all find it very easy to speak our own love languages, but not so easy to speak the love languages of others. It is important to identify as early as possible our love languages and those of our partner in order to act accordingly.
People are kind of emotional vessels. There are people who have their emotional vessel full because they have felt loved on a regular basis. There are people who have an empty emotional tank because they have been greatly lacking in this regard. If we make sure we keep our emotional tanks full, surely this task to which we committed ourselves on the day of our "I do" will be much more bearable.
Sometimes children will be fortunate enough to witness the reciprocal (though never perfect) love of their mother and father. Other times the children will learn unconditional love from an abandoned spouse who forgives, from a spouse who for long periods of time has to love the other even though the other apparently does not deserve it. Often what transforms us is the fact of feeling loved when we do not really feel, or are not, worthy of that love.
I have been working for the IFFD for 20 years (International Federation for Family Development). It is a marvel what IFFD has done since its predecessor was constituted in '78. We are now in 70 countries and have general consultative status at the United Nations. We primarily use the case methodology, which helps people to identify facts (as opposed to opinions), diagnose problems and be very creative in finding solutions. We will continue to work with enthusiasm and effort to design new dynamics that help to discover the beauty of family life.
The best gift we can give our children is our love. When one of us fails in our promise, we still have the opportunity to remain faithful to our promise, forgiving the other and making our children witnesses to that forgiveness. We are called to love each other. We are capable of loving each other. We are worth loving.
Director of IFFD Family Enrichment.