Recently TIME magazine published an article titled “The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’”. We were asked by Fathers For Good to discuss the downfalls of the “beta marriage” model, specifically by answering three specific questions. Let’s answer the first one today:
1- Millennials want to get married but also want the extra time that comes from a “beta marriage” arrangement to test marriage out. What’s wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with wanting some time to make a decision such as marriage. What is wrong is to want to “test” marriage out!
“Human love does not tolerate trial marriages. It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.” CCC 2391
If we need to test marriage we can have doubts on the depth and truthfulness of our love. When you truly love someone, you do not need any testing.
What kind of message does testing a marriage send?
It says, “I think I love you but I’m not sure. I’m not sure I can stand you each day of our lives, I’m not sure you are the right person for me, I’m not sure we can make it together, I’m not sure I want to start a family with you, I’m not sure I want to fight for our relation.”
Can this be called true love?
When I love, I want to give all, to make the jump, to invest all I am into this relationship, 100%, no matter what comes.
Maybe millennials have a distorted definition of love?
What is love?
The following definition is our favorite:
“Love is to want the good of another”, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Love always implies a part of self-sacrifice because true love is self-giving.
“To love is to give all and give oneself”, St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Another one, from Robert H. Schuller: “To love is to reveal your soul”.
Love is to want the good of another before your own good, whatever sacrifice it may require. It takes a whole lifetime to learn it. It cannot be “tested” over a few months or years. Marriage is a school of love. And we must work at love each day of our life. Graduation is in heaven.
Love is a lot more than just a feeling. Feelings are not reliable: they come and go. Love remains because love is mainly a decision. “Being in love is something you DO” (C.S. Lewis). I choose this one and I will do everything possible to make him/her happy, whatever happens, whatever the sacrifice, whatever the challenge…. We get married because we love each other, sure, but mainly we get married TO love each other.
“Love is not only a feeling; to it also belong the will and the intelligence.”
– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Choosing to test a marriage out is contrary to love.
The beta marriage is based on the idea that marriage can last only as long as the other person brings ‘me’ something or makes ‘me’ happy. Sexual relations play a big part.
“Premarital or extramarital sex of any kind always makes that language of the body false. Couples who are deeply in love and engage in sex without first having made that marital commitment are simply lying to one another. They may think that they are engaging in an act of love, but the total self-giving that the union of their bodies signifies is belied by their refusal first to make the public commitment that that union demands. That refusal, in turn, is based on many things that are incompatible with the language of their bodies. Is this person the right person for me? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with her or him? Am I mature enough to accept the responsibilities of this commitment, the responsibilities of a community of life and goods, the responsibilities of parenthood? I’m just doing this to have a good time; I don’t really care about him or her. He or she shouldn’t be so serious about something that is so much fun.”
Pastoral Letter, October 17, 2014, Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, Colorado Springs.