Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flexibility in Love, Gift to the Other

The columnist covering spirituality for the Catholic Times introduces us to a pair of lovers who had been dating for about a year. Because they believed there was a growing lack of concern for the other, they were contemplating giving up on the relationship, so they came to him for counseling. He asked them to express their feelings on the situation.

The girl spoke first. "He doesn't express himself. When I phone him he often--and I think deliberately--doesn't accept my call. When I send him a text message he doesn't always reply. I get angry and he acts if nothing is amiss. I ask him to explain himself and he acts as if there is nothing to explain, and then I get angrier. His words just make it clear to me that he feels I'm a nobody. I  want to make him happy and believe he will change, but nothing changes."

Looking at his girlfriend the boy, with a sigh, says, " When I'm busy, isn't it understandable that I can't answer the telephone, but this causes big trouble.  When I don't respond to her text messages she sulks the whole day; she questions and cross examines. What is important is that I love her. God and the  whole world knows this. She is the only one that doesn't know it or doesn't believe it. This means we have to stop seeing each other, doesn't it?"

Here the columnist mentions the importance of seeing that each has a different value system when it comes to social interactions. The boy tends to distinguish matters using value judgments of right and wrong, public and private; the girl tends to judge matters using the categories of good and bad, love and sympathy.

By showing them the different ways they tend to see life, the columnist succeeded in improving the relationship. And they continue working to understand each other's way of seeing life.

Because each of us is living with our own particular value system, it is not surprising, he says, that our values are sometimes at odds with those of someone we love. Changing one's values is never easily done but for the love of the other we often are moved to make some adjustments, putting aside one's own values, while trying to understand the values of others. Ultimately, the flexibility of love brings about a change in one's own value system, at least to the extent of being more accepting of the values of others. Trusting in our love for the other, this flexibility in values becomes a gift to the other.