Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We all make our 'Gunghap'

When people are considering marriage in Korea the word Gunghap is often heard. This is the matching of the four pillars (saju): time, day, month and year of birth, with the five elements (metal,water,fire,wood and earth). With this information the fortune teller forecasts the couple's marital harmony. Gunghap has a long history; it's used not only for marrying couples but for other relationships, including business purposes. When the  reading is not propitious then the Gunghap is not considered good.

A priest from the Suwon diocese, who heads the Family Pastoral Research Center, writes about the Gunghap in his column in the Korean Times. For a Catholic, putting one's trust in this method and in effect turning away from God, is to rely on superstition and give oneself over to idolatry. No matter what the reading of the Gunghap is, the couple themselves will determine their future.

In the reading of the Gunghap, the focus is on determining what qualities the partners have in common and the qualities that are antagonistic. The priest says that in his experience, he has found that it is precisely the non-common, 'antagonistic' aspects of personality that unite a couple, rather than separating them as the Gunghap believes. The effort to come to terms with these often friction-causing aspects of personality, the priest says, that helps foster understanding and concern for the other. Seeing their own failings and making an effort to understand the other, they become more like each other.

Dialogue is what is important and the time together to foster heart-to-heart conversation. It is not just enjoying each others company. It is getting to know the other deep down: what they like and dislike, what was difficult in their growing up years, what was their relationship with parents and siblings, what is their world view and values in life, what are their dispositions, personality and efforts to come to an objective  understanding of what they are facing in life.

Catholics in the past. he  explains, made much of having the same religious belief. But in Korea because we have few Catholics, the Church allows for a dispensation marriage although Church Law does not allow for the marrying of a non-Catholic. Among devout Catholics, in times past, a dispensation was never even considered; they would make efforts to have the partner baptized before the wedding. This has always been considered an important element in a happy marriage.

With the passage of time the partners in a happy marriage become more like each other. This is because the sacrifices and concern for the other has made the Gunghap  similar. They know each other, and with constant dialogue their thoughts and hearts tend to become one.

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