My motto for married life: 'It's always better to love'

This weekend marks my one-year wedding anniversary, which is strange even to write, as it seems I was just writing about the event itself. People say the first year is the hardest, so I’m thinking it must be smooth sailing from here on out.

Thankfully, we’ve had a pretty smooth ride so far, as I am never emotional, stubborn, selfish or impatient, and naturally put others before myself at all times.

Right.

Thankfully, again, I have a very patient spouse who understands, way better than I do, the concept of sacrificial love. One of his mantras around the house that is slowly sinking into my hard head: “It’s always better to love.”

He is so right. It is always better to love.

Love is a choice, a matter of the will — one that we have full control over. And it’s always better to choose it.

This is something that all the saints came to understand over time, especially the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose shrine in France we visited this time last year on our honeymoon.

St. Thérèse had a desire to love and to love fiercely — both God and others — even when it wasn’t easy. She knew it was a matter of the will.

In a letter to her sister, Celine, St. Thérèse wrote the following passage, which shows her humanity and her virtue at the same time:

“In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might seem to me extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle.”

When it came to loving members of her community, that, too, was an act of the will, one in which God enabled the young saint. In her autobiography, “Story of A Soul,” she wrote:

“I feel that when I am charitable it is Jesus alone who acts in me; the more I am united to Him the more do I love all my Sisters.

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“If, when I desire to increase this love in my heart, the demon tries to set before my eyes the faults of one or other of the Sisters, I hasten to call to mind her virtues, her good desires; I say to myself that if I had seen her fall once, she may well have gained many victories which she conceals through humility; and that even what appears to me a fault may in truth be an act of virtue by reason of the intention.”

Such a reflection is applicable to family life as well. It is always better to think the best, not the worst.

It is always better to build up, rather than tear down. It is always better to love.

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