Wedding season has weaned to a close while so many last names in my phone contacts remain jumbled up. For me, this summer was packed with weddings. Each one I went to was different. From receptions in an art studio to a hunting lodge to the elegant ceremonies, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the love stricken atmosphere. But, amidst the perfectly laid decorations and the photo shoots, I started to wonder: What happens next? What happens when the pinterest boards are no longer pertinent, the drawn out engagement period is over, and there is no wedding left to plan? I started to wonder how does a couple transition from this self-obsessed state of planning into life.
I think the craziest part is some people don’t make this transition. It seems like necessarily couples have to get out of the inward focus since the wedding is over and the possibility of children now is open and welcome. But, I really don’t think all couples make the transition. Think about it. There’s the couple that upon marriage still does not immerse itself in community. The only relationship, albeit a very important one, that is being formed is with one’s spouse. It is not like this is just a newlywed thing either. Think about all the couples, young, middle-aged, and elderly, that quite frankly don’t have friends.
Man is made for community.
The second man forgets this is the second man loses himself. Each individual has to take it upon his own to delve into community. No one else can do this for him or her. Karol Wojtyla says of persons, “As he seeks to determine the particular lines along which his personality must develop, the main direction of his love, every man must learn to integrate himself into the activity of God and respond to His love.” (1) To integrate oneself into this direction of love does not look like our perfectly crafted pinterest boards we have to perfect our lifestyle or contained in the four walls of our homes. This is a love that goes out to all of society.
Family life is a great way to rid one’s self of their egoism, but another danger presents itself. An egoism that displays itself in obsessions with one’s family is still a kind of egoism. We all had those friends growing up that could never hang out because they had their third family game night in a row. Or, how many times are we more concerned with our families looking perfect by spending hours on photoshoots and thousands of dollars on outfits instead of remembering there is a whole society out there calling out for help, physically or in this need for community. Families need society if we want to avoid this kind of egoism.
I think the biggest thing that is keeping families from going out into society is fear. We are so worried about how corrupt and immoral society is that we forget that we ourselves have our own issues too. Our families aren’t perfect, so why do we fear the impact of society so much? Of course there are precautions that need to be made for a pornographic and drug crazed culture, but the response is not one of a citadel. We cannot go about hiding. Instead Karol Wojtyla says that family should exist in these large societies because society has something to offer the family too.
“The family is in itself a small society, and the existence of all large societies- nation, state, Church- depends on it. Obviously any large society will keep a watchful eye on the process of its own ceaseless recruitment by way of the family. The family is the primary institution at the base of our existence as human beings. It forms part of the large society which it constantly helps to create, but it also has its own distinct existence, its own character and ends.” (2)
It is a lot easier to stick to our perfected ideas of what our families could be that are easily controlled than to allow others to call us into an integrated lifestyle where we work with others for a goal that is beyond our control. The good of society is a goal that cannot be abandoned in the love stricken sentiments of our newly weds. Families, go out. Change the world because that is exactly what your family is made to do. The family is not supposed to be your ultimate craft project that you can easily control and manipulate accordingly. Rather, it is a very messy love that the world depends on. Without families, there is no society. And without society, how can man flourish into his full personal being?
So, husbands and wives, it’s up to you. Will your family, in all the messiness it is, be a part of society or will you continue to be that isolated agent fearful of change?
1. Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility, 258.
2. Ibid, 217.