Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dialogue And Happiness in Marriage

A priest who develops programs for pastoral work in the diocese of Seoul begins his article in the Kyeongyang Magazine with the well-known story from the Talmud. A king sends two of his servants on a mission, one to find the most beautiful and good thing in the world, the other to find the most evil and deceitful thing in the world. Both returned having found the same thing--the human tongue.

The mind, says the priest, when not questioning the value of words has a tendency to trust in their genuineness. When one says "thank you" or "you damn fool" to a spouse, the unquestioning mind does not judge whether it was a situation that merited the word but accepts it as true  and stores it in memory. A good reason, he believes, why words should not be spoken lightly. A word spoken thoughtlessly in less than 30 seconds can last in mind hurtfully for 30 years.

If one wants to know how much love there is in a marriage find  out how much dialogue. All  unhappy couples know what is necessary for happiness but to do it  is not always easy.

 The dialogue between a couple can be divided into three types: quarreling (using words to turn against the spouse); irrelevant remarks that stray  from the topic (using words to turn away from the spouse); and being in sympathy with feelings and sentiments (using words to turn toward the spouse). The turning against and turning away kind of talk builds up stress and leaves scars. Turning toward dialogue helps to heal the scares and overcomes the stress, and leads to the happiness of the couple.

But the spoken word is incomplete unless heard. Listening is just as important, if not more so, than speaking. Whether what is said is accepted is not as important as the intent to listen to the partner.

The priest mentions that Genghis Khan wasn't able to read, but he listened to others, and  said, " My ears have made me wise."

He gives us the 1:2:3 rule.  Speak for one minute, listen for two minutes, and assent to what is said at least three times.

He ends the article by telling us that within a couple of years we can learn to speak on pretty much any subject, but to listen well, with an open and accepting heart, can take a  life-time of learning.  Listening is the basic requisite for dialogue and not only necessary for dialogue but for a life well-lived; it is an art. Dialogue that is right speech and right listening is the short cut to happiness in marriage. Unfortunately, many are taking  another path  without the same results.