Monday, March 20, 2017

Living a Happy Married Life

Who are the happily married couples? Many examples of 'lovey-dovey' couples come to mind. So begins an article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a layman who works closely with married couples in the Seoul Diocese.

Often we are under the illusion that what is needed is to maintain a passionate and romantic relationship. He quotes the world famous John Gottman known for his work on marital stability. He considers two traits that make for a happy marriage.

The first requisite is to be a sincere friend to your spouse. What image arises when the word friend is heard? An easy, comfortable, strong, without reservation relationship, is it not?

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds; For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself" (Sirach 6:14-17).

The second requisite is when you fight, do it wisely. Not to fight is not possible, the only way not to fight  between two equals is not to marry. Since we are all different in makeup and living closely together to have conflict is only natural. When we hear that a couple has never fought usually it's because one of the spouses doesn't have the mental freedom to do so.

He lists ten things that should be addressed:

1) Don't let the problems amass.
2) Don't touch each other's sore spots.
3) Don't attack the other's physical complexes.
4) Call a time out when one is overly agitated.
5) Stay away from abusive language.
6) Don't compare with others, don't touch the other's self-respect.
7) Don't fight in front of the children.
8) No violence.
9) Never bring up the word divorce.
10) Put yourself in the spouse's shoes.

When there is no conflict the relationship is dead. When we have areas of conflict the relationship is alive. When the couple fights in a wise manner the relationship can become stronger. "A wife does not belong to herself but to her husband; equally, a husband does not belong to himself but to his wife" (1 Cor. 7: 4).

The article concludes with a reminder that a couples' goal is not happiness but oneness. When my spouse is happy I am happy when sad I am sad. Until we are separated in death we are not alone. Isn't this a reason for the happiness couples should have. Aren't we too quick to forget this?