Her question is one that I’ve pondered a great deal. My husband and I have done a good bit of reading on the topic of love and, after much thought and with the help of more learned and wiser persons, I’ve compiled a response to her question. Without further ado, here it is!
Real love, in a word, is sacrifice. It is the giving of yourself to your beloved, a complete emptying out for the good of your spouse.
Love, by its very nature, is free. It cannot be coerced or bought; it is given as a pure gift.
Love is total: it’s a complete giving, a giving of all your dreams, your fears, your past and future, even a physical giving of your whole body. It holds nothing back, but generously gives everything in total commitment.
Love is faithful. Feelings of love come and go. After the “honeymoon” phase, when your spouse makes you angry, hurt, resentful, frustrated, irritated, etc., that is sometimes when love truly begins, because love is a choice. You choose to faithfully love your beloved, no matter the condition or emotions present. Love is an act of the will: you do what is best for him or her, day after day, because marital love is a permanent union that cannot be divided.
Finally, love is fruitful. True love is never content as is, but relentlessly desires to grow more and more. On our honeymoon, a wise man told my husband and me, “You must love each other more each day.” Love demands an ever-growing sacrifice of self. In its fruitfulness, love can no longer be contained just within the husband and wife; it naturally pours forth in the physical, tangible form of children.
In sum, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” True love is the laying down of your life, every single day, for the good of your beloved.