Module - Love Dating and Responsibility
Chapter 23 - Revelation and Truth
Reflection of experience
Over the past year my uncle has decided to split from his wife for the better. He is the only one in my huge family who has taken the divorce road after 25 years of marriage. Although his love for his ex wife was probably real, it makes me questions whether it was subjective or objective love?
The reason I reflect on this family experience is because my Mum and Dad knew that Michelle (uncles ex wife) wasn’t 100% right for my uncle when they first got married. When my second oldest brother came along, they only made my uncle his Godparent and not Michelle because they always had a suspicion that they weren’t going to last. I question whether they actually always knew they were going split, despite being married for 25 years. I challenge that because my parents have been married for 31 years and have had 5 kids together they know the quality in a relationship that either determine whether it will last or not.
The key issues– Subjective & Objective Love
According to Karol Wojtyla, there are two aspects of love, and understanding the difference is crucial for any marriage, engagement, or dating relationship. On one hand, there’s what’s happening inside humans when attracted to a person of the opposite sex. When boy meets girl, he experiences a number of powerful feelings and desires in his heart. He may find himself physically drawn to the beauty of her body or constantly thinking about her in an emotional attraction. This inner dynamic of sensual desire (sensuality) and emotional love (sentimentality) largely shapes how the man and woman interact with each other, and it is what makes romance, especially in its early stages, so thrilling for the couple involved (Sri, 2014). Wojtyla calls this first side of love the “subjective” aspect. He puts the subjective aspect of love in its proper place. He says no matter how intensely we experience these sensations, it is not necessarily love, but simply “a psychological situation.” In other words, on its own, the subjective aspect of love is no more than a pleasurable experience happening inside oneself.
These emotions and desires are not bad, and they may develop into love and even enrich love, but we should not view them as infallible signs of authentic love. “It is impossible to judge the value of a relationship between persons merely from the intensity of their emotions, Love develops on the basis of the totally committed and fully responsible attitude of a person to a person” (Sri, 2014); whereas, romantic feelings “are born spontaneously from sensual and emotional reactions. A very rich and rapid growth of such sensations may conceal a love which has failed to develop” (John Paul 1981, page 145)
In the Love, Dating and Responsibility module we discussed how Men and women today are quite susceptible to falling for this illusion of love, focusing primarily on the subjective aspect. There is another side of love that is absolutely essential no matter how powerful our emotions and desires may be and this is called “objective” aspect (Sri, 2014). This aspect has a number of objective characteristics that go beyond the pleasurable feelings experienced on the subjective level.
What I’ve learnt
Through discussions with my uncle I realized that his relationship with his ex wife was purely them living side by side, sharing resources and occasional good times together while each selfishly pursued their own projects and interests in life. I know that my uncle tried to be the husband she wanted as she pursued more a career then her family. But through the Love, Dating and Responsibility module as well as the use of academic resources I have learnt a new and deeper understanding of this family experience.
Chapter 23 of the Introduction to Philosophy and Theology within Catholic Liberal