True love means seeing beyond own needs

I realize that this column is too late for Valentine’s Day. I realize also that this is the Season of Lent, a time of transformation and renewal, a fairly ‘serious season’. Yet, have we not been through enough ‘serious’ stuff lately – the heartbreak of Haiti and the blizzard of Baltimore?

So, I wanted to share a more whimsical parable in this column. If you know of some young couple newly married, planning to get married, or just thinking about marriage, you might want to share this with them. I didn’t write this parable. It was given to me by my favorite psychologist, the renowned Dr. Mike Boyle. It’s simply titled “The Husband Store.”

“A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store only once! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So a woman goes the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor, the sign reads:

Floor 1 – These men have jobs.

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 – These men have jobs and love kids.

‘That’s nice,’ she thinks, ‘but I want more.’ So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 – These men have jobs, love kids and are extremely good looking.

‘Wow,’ she thinks but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor, and the sign reads:

Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with housework.

‘Oh mercy me,’ she exclaims. ‘I can hardly stand it.’

Still she goes up to the fifth floor, and the sign reads:

Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 – You are visitor 31,456,112 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.

Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

A great parable isn’t it? But I’m not finished!

To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a New Wives Store just across the street.

The first floor has wives who love sex.

The second floor has wives who love sex, have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors have never been visited!”

There is great wisdom in humor, isn’t there? I’ve often maintained that if we can’t laugh about a problem, we probably can’t solve it.

The sacrament of matrimony doesn’t change our natures. The sacrament, however, does give us the grace to transform our attitudes. Romantic love believes that there is someone who will meet all of our needs. Life teaches us that no such person exists. Grace, however, gives us the power to accept this person exactly as he or she is. When I stop focusing on what he or she is not, I begin to see who he or she really is. When I can love this person unconditionally, I begin to really love! True love helps me to see beyond the limited vision of my needs and wants and to see this person as God sees him or her, with unconditional love. Grace transforms us.

So, you see, this article really was about Lent after all!

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.