'Father Oprah' Explains How to Make Love Last

Father Albert Cutié on how to keep your relationships strong during tough times.

BY: Interview by Charlotte Allen

 

Editor's Note: Father Albert Cutie participated in this interview with Beliefnet in February 2006. Recently, he was placed on leave after photographs of the priest with a woman on a beach were published in a magazine.



More from Beliefnet Blogs:

Father Cutie's Video on How to Build a Happy Marriage


Fr. Albert Cutié, a first-generation Cuban-American, is a parish priest in Miami's South Beach. Since 1998, he has hosted a variety of Spanish-language talk-show television programs that reach an estimated 24 million homes in 22 countries. He also writes a syndicated newspaper advice column, "Advice from a Friend." Dubbed "Father Oprah" by his fans, he has recently published a book, Real Life, Real Love: Seven Paths to a Strong and Lasting Relationship.

As a celibate Catholic priest, you've probably been asked this before. How can you give advice to married people and people who want to get married?

 



You don't have to be mentally ill to be a good psychiatrist. I don't think you have to be someone who has a real problem in order to relate to people's problems. When you are in the help industry, especially as a priest, rabbi, or minister, you're constantly hearing from people talking about marriage or sexual dysfunction. People naturally turn to religious figures for advice. Half the people who write to me are not Catholic.

In the Spanish-speaking world, everybody gets that. In the English-speaking world, however, people always ask, "What authority does that person have to talk about relationships?" It's prejudices and biases and stereotypes about what a priest can and can't offer. But in the Spanish-speaking world, that's never been an issue for me, because those who have listened to my shows or watched them or read my columns, they get what I do: It's no-nonsense practical advice for everyday life. It's not dogmatic and pushing religion down your throat.

What advice do you give to single people about finding a mate who's right for them?

People usually come to me with a very definite idea of who the ideal person is for them. It usually has to do with some physical characteristic. I tell them: That's not important. What is important is seeking out someone you can love and give your life to. You have to base your search for a mate on the capacity to form those strong and lasting relationships.

What is the biggest impediment in today's society to forming strong and lasting relationships?

The biggest issue is courtship and how people meet. There are things like speed-dating, where people say they are too busy to spend a lot of time getting to know someone and want to form a lasting relationship based on just a couple of dates.

When people are serious about a relationship today, they have to be careful not to fall into the traps that are out there. For example, rushing into physical intimacy. The relationship begins with the carriage in front of the horse. We rush into this very deep aspect of the relationship before we know each other, before we share our common values and goals for life. People are getting hurt left and right. In my book, I talk about how to establish the foundations first.

You talk in your book about our very high divorce rate. Are married people not making enough effort to save their marriages?

There's a difference between getting out of a marriage because you've been abused, mistreated--and you've tried everything and there's nothing you can do--and going into a marriage thinking if things don't go my way, I'm getting out. There are good reasons to separate and divorce when there's an abusive relationship, when things are not well, and when people are inhumane with each other.

Continued on page 2: How to stay married over the long haul »

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