This morning, I finished reading Three to Get Married, my first Fulton Sheen book. The first day I cracked it, it didn’t do a lot for me — I frankly thought that what I read was weird.
I didn’t know yet that it would turn out to be the best marriage book I ever have read. In it, Sheen dissects love, marriage and sex in such ways that this book can — and should — change the world.
Three to Get Married is the sort of book that, by virtue of being a brilliant articulation of Truth, obligates single readers to alter the ways we discern and date, and equips married couples to adjust until marriage aligns with God’s design for it.
The culture that surrounds us says we should pick a new person to love if marriage gets hard or boring. Sheen reminds us that trials actually call us to love in new ways. The culture that surrounds us says we should find satisfaction in a significant other or spouse. Sheen reminds us that we can never, will never be satisfied by each other.
Also, the book will blow your mind. Sheen should’ve read it aloud and dropped the mic.
So if you are tired of culture in which attraction is “path to pleasure” when it should be “path to virtue,” read it. If you don’t want a mediocre marriage, read it.
If you think Catholics are crazy, I don’t even care, read it. IF YOU ARE A HUMAN, READ IT.
But first, read these — my favorite excerpts:
“The greatest illusion of lovers is to believe that the intensity of their sexual attraction is the guarantee of the perpetuity of their love.” -page 1
“The separation of soul and body is death. Those who separate sex and spirit are rehearsing for death.” -page 3
“Love has three causes: goodness, knowledge, and similarity. It is possible for man to mistake what is good for him, but it is impossible for him not to desire goodness.” -page 15
“Marriage is a vocation to put God in every detail of love.” -page 31
“Erotic love is, therefore, a bridge one crosses, not a buttress where one sits and rests. It is not an airport, but an airplane; it is always going somewhere else, upward and onward.” -page 34
“The basic error of mankind has been to assume that only two are needed for love: you and me, or society and me, or humanity and me. Really it takes three: self, other selves, and God; you, and me, and God. … One cannot tie two sticks together without something outside the sticks.” -page 43
“Love that is only giving ends in exhaustion; love that is only seeking perishes in its selfishness. Love that is ever seeking to give and is ever defeated by receiving is the shadow of the Trinity on earth and therefore a foretaste of heaven.” -page 66
“Those who believe that there are other loves beyond the carnal are not so anxious to unveil sex as they are to have the higher loves revealed. If, on entering a home with three floors, one deludes himself into believing that there is nothing above the basement where the Id lives, then, to have fun, one must explore every nook and corner of that subliminal floor. But to one who knows that there are two other floors above, each one more beautiful than the other, the joy of life will be in having the higher mysteries revealed.” -page 74′
“When conjugal love is understood as symbolizing this love of Christ and his spouse, then the charity that one spouse has for the other will aid their complete spiritual development until Christ be formed in them. The avidity to possess the other in love is superseded by the interest in seeing the other grow in love of God. Everything is done for love.” -page 121
“Identification of marriage with the pleasure marriage brings is a misunderstanding … when the first thrill is gone, after a couple of years, it is felt that the bond no longer endures. We say we no longer love one another, when we mean that the exchange of selfish pleasure is no longer satisfying.” -page 123
“Love is not a fusion but a communion. Marriage brings into play not two biological functions but two personalities. The dialogue is of the spirit; the kiss is that of the souls; to intensify that spirit and echo, the flesh itself has its echo.” -page 131
“One of the greatest mistakes the human heart can make is to seek pleasure as a goal of life. Pleasure is a by-product of the fulfillment of duty; it is a bridesmaid, not a bride; it is something that attends and waits on man when he does that which he ought.” -page 18
“As the violin needs tuning, as the block of marble needs cutting before it can make a statue, so the love of husband and wife needs purification before it can rise to new heights. The satiety and emptiness that come to the flesh are reminders that one has hit bottom; therefore, one must rise to new heights. But this is not done without a certain abnegation of the ego.” -page 181
“If life went on as a dream without the chock of disillusionment, who would ever attain his final goal with God and perfect happiness? The majority of men would rest in mediocrity; acorns would be content to be saplings; some children would never grow up; and nothing would mature.” -page 181
“Dryness in the spiritual life and in marriage are really actual graces. God’s finger is stirring the waters of the soul, creating discontent, that new efforts may be put forth. … The modern solution in marriage is to find a new love; the Christian solution is to recapture an old love.” -page 183