Who Do You Love First?

Last Friday, in celebration of our birthday, my wife posted this instagram picture.

Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 6.57.32 AM

For those of you who didn’t see it, it read, “Hi @josephbonifacio! Happy birthday! I love you forever! You are my first love. Second lang si Philip.” (Philip is second.)

Most netizens who read that comment responded with affirmative statements, except for one. She said, translated from Tagalog, “You shouldn’t have had a child then. Your husband could lie to you or cheat on you. He could leave you then he wouldn’t be your husband anymore. But your child will be your child forever.”

Most of the other commenters then answered her and I think she deleted her comment.

As I thought about her comment, I realized she had two unfortunate errors in thinking that let her to that wrong conclusion.

1. The husband and wife relationship is not supposed to end.

In Matthew 19:3-12, Jesus explains to the Pharisees and large crowds that divorce was granted legally because people had evil hearts. But from the beginning it wasn’t meant to be that way. Husband and wife were meant to stay together.

To plan for the failure of the marriage is to have the wrong perspective. Yes, there are situations and circumstances where marriages are dissolved, but like Jesus said, these are not the way it was meant to be.

Unfortunately, too many people plan and prepare for the failure of the marriage, but because they aren’t going all-in, the marriage suffers and, eventually, fails. Their expectations became like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, we should expect and plan for a lifetime together.

But a more subtle error was this:

2. If you love the right one first, it doesn’t diminish your love for the others.

The order of priorities in our life is: God first, then spouse, then children, then other family and friends, and calling or work. (I think family, friends, and work are interchangeable in different situations.)

What that person didn’t realize was that Carla’s love for me doesn’t diminish her love for Philip. In fact, it enhances it. My love for Carla bolsters and strengthens my love for Philip. In fact, as he gets older, Philip will be more secure and thankful for the love between his parents. In short, one of the ways I can best love my son is by loving his mother, my wife.

Unfortunately, Filipino society often produces child-centered families, with couples who will be at each other’s throats while being devoted to their children. Again, like I pointed out earlier, there are circumstances like marital unfaithfulness or spousal abuse that warrant a divorce or breaking the marriage covenant. But generally speaking, a healthy marriage will produce healthy relationships with the children.

This is the same false mindset behind when people ask, “How do I love God more than my spouse? Shouldn’t my spouse get all of my love?” They don’t realize that loving God will not remove your love for your spouse. Instead, it enhances it. Carla and I love each other more every day because we love God first. His love for us strengthens our marriage more than our own love for each other would.

We’ve all seen relationships where the couple “fell in love” and then isolated themselves from key relationships with family and friends. That’s one of the ways you know it isn’t the right love.

Because the right kind of love will enhance and strengthen the other loves in the right order. My love for God fuels my love for my wife, which strengthens my love for my son, with so much left over for my family and friends, making me love and give my best at work.

So let’s love others, but in the right order of things. 😉

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