Gradually, with further maturity, love begins to be manifested in a cooperative manner At this stage which characteristically corresponds to adulthood in the individual, the love relationship becomes a sharing process. The lovers are now more certain of their own identity, more aware of their basic capacities, more assured of their experiences, and less threatened by the possibility of rejection. Furthermore, rejection at this level becomes more tolerable, and the ability to be objective in the evaluation of such circumstances becomes more refined and strong. A sharing relationship is indeed one of the most sought after types of love relationship. Ideally, marriage should take place at this level, or, if it occurs at an earlier stage in the love relationship, should be guided towards this objective. As a consequence of these efforts, the resultant marital relationship is characterized by a strong positive sense of identity for both the husband and the wife, a high capacity for cooperation and sharing, a fundamental belief in the integrity and nobility of each person, and a deep sense of respect for one another. Under such circumstances, love is manifested in a cooperative, assured, calm, and creative manner free from the competition, uncertainty, anxiety, and rigidity of the adolescent stage of development. During all these stages of development – unidirectional love, competitive love, and cooperative love – preoccupation with self steadily decreases. In fact, to the degree that the individual is able to focus his attention, energies, and capacities on others and at the same time maintain a basic sense of self, his strengths, and his positive capacities, he is able to engage in a higher level of love relationship and experience.
The cooperative type of love is not only possible in marriage, but also in other forms of relationship, including his relationship with his Creator. Iin many of his ways, challenges man to establish a higher level of relationship with his Creator. Until now, the relationship between man and God has been likened to that of a parent and child. But now puts forward a challenge:
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.
With this statement, a new era in the relationship between God and man has begun. Humanity has finally arrived at the stage of adulthood, a stage characterized by sharing.
Within the context of marriage, however, love relationships gradually move from the level of cooperation to an unconditional type of love. The husband and wife then relate to one another with such a degree of respect and comfort that the conditions usually imposed in the love relationship become less frequent, less intense, and less necessary At this level, couples are able to broaden the scope of their love to include their children, parents, relatives, friends and eventually all of humanity, while at the same time being able to safeguard completely the sanctity of their marriage and fidelity.