Just in time for St. Valentine’s Day, Pope Francis offers the three most important words in any marriage: “Please”, “Thanks” and “Sorry”.


While there may be a lot of fear on the part of the young to make a lifelong decisions such as getting married—people find it impossible to keep love alive over the years—Pope Francis invites us not to allow ourselves to be overcome by a “provisional culture,” because the love that undergirds a family is forever.

But what do we mean by “love?”

Pope Francis begins with an important insight: many couples say, “We’ll be together while love lasts.” Then he asks, “What do we mean by ‘love?’ Just a feeling, a psycho-physical condition? If so, you cannot build anything solid.”

But if love is a relationship, it is a reality that grows; it is built like a house, a house built in each other’s company, not alone, the Pope says. Do not desire to build it on the sand of feelings that come and go, he counsels, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God.

“Marriage is a jewelry business that is built every day throughout life,” he adds. “A husband helps his wife to mature as a woman, and the wife helps her husband to mature as a man. The two grow in humanity, and this is the main legacy they leave the children.”

The Pope also talks about marital cohabitation: “Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating way…that has rules which can be summarized in three phrases, ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry.'”

“‘Please’ is the request to enter the life of someone with respect and attention. True love is not imposed with toughness and aggressiveness, St. Francis said…. ‘Courtesy is the sister of charity, erasing the hate and maintaining love.’ Today, in our families, in our often violent and arrogant world, much courtesy is lacking.”

“Thank you:” Gratitude is an important feeling…. It is important to keep alive the awareness that the other person is a gift of God…. You have to learn to say ‘thank you’ to walk together.”

“‘Sorry:’ in life we have made many mistakes…. Hence the need to use this simple word, ‘’Sorry.’ In general, each of us is willing to expect the other to apologize. It is an instinct that is the cause of so many disasters. Let us learn to recognize our mistakes and apologize. it also helps a Christian family grow well.”

This article originally appeared at Aleteia’s Portuguese edition.