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Published: Saturday, 4/30/2011

Growing in love, not staying in it, is trick to dodging divorce

Anderson Anderson

Imagine getting on an airplane and hearing an airline announcement that “50 percent of our flights don’t reach their destination because they crash en route.”

Would you continue to take your seat and buckle up?

Kevin Anderson, a Toledo-area psychologist, author, and Catholic columnist, said the same sort of warning could be made to engaged couples on the risks of marriage, since nearly half end in divorce.

A veteran marriage counselor, Mr. Anderson said in his hourlong lecture Tuesday at Toledo’s Corpus Christi University Parish that there is a need for “a new paradigm for married love’s deepest potentials.”

The old belief that people will “marry and live happily ever after” has been replaced by a desire to “live happily now, for marriage will be stressful ever after,” he said.

He said many young adults want to delay marriage because they fear it will limit their freedom, their frequency and quality of sex, and has a 50 percent chance of divorce.

Marriage used to be sacred, Mr. Anderson said, but that word has shifted to “scared.” “We know it’s sacred, but we’re scared,” Mr. Anderson said.

Being in love is not about a special feeling, it is about being immersed in life with another person. And because the world contains joy and sorrow, so will marriage, he said.

When people ask him how to “get back that loving feeling,” he said he tells them he doesn’t like the question.

“It’s not about going back. It’s moving forward,” Mr. Anderson said.

Love between two people is a growth process, and it requires time. People should not strive to stay in love, he said, but to grow in love.

Mr. Anderson urged couples to spend time “practicing” on their marriage.

He and his wife, Claudia, meet every morning at 7 a.m. for an hour of “compassionate listening,” checking on each other and on their marriage.

“We haven’t perfected anything, but we’re practicing; we’re trying,” he said.

Referring to Jesus’ saying that the most important commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, Mr. Anderson said marriage is an immersion in divine love, and through daily spiritual practice and dying to oneself, husbands and wives can “integrate the two realms into one.”

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