Three Magic Words
On St Valentine’s Day this year, Pope Francis gathered with 20,000 Engaged Couples to encourage them in their journey.
Reflecting on the ‘art’ of married life, Francis noted that it is “a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey” which doesn’t end when we win over each other’s heart. On the contrary it is just the beginning.
He puts forward a simple formula for marital success in three words: please, thanks and sorry. These three words can seem so mundane but when properly understood can help couples build solid and joyful marriages.
- Please. Encourages us to approach the other with a respectful and reverent attitude, one that does not impose itself, but treats the other as an equal. “‘Please’ is a polite request to be able to enter into the life of someone else with respect and care,” said Francis. In a world that is dominated by a ‘me-centric’ mentality, ‘please’ reminds us that the world does not revolve around me and my needs. Rather it shows us that the Christian life, and the Christian spouse, is called to be in service to others, especially our beloved.
- Thanks. Gratitude is an essential virtue for healthy and happy living for every Christian and especially spouses. The psychological sciences tell us that gratitude is a powerful habit for building positivity and optimism. Saying ‘Thanks’ helps us to remember that the other is God’s gift to us. “Do we know how to say thank you?” asked Francis. “In your relationship, and in your future as married couples, it is important to keep alive your awareness that the other person is a gift from God and we should always give thanks for gifts from God.”
- Sorry. Noting that we all make mistakes and many of them, Francis said “this is why we need to be able to use this simple word, ‘sorry.’” Observing the tendency of people to justify their own actions by blaming and accusing others, he commented that it is through recognising our mistakes and apologising for them that the Christian family grows. And lest we be uncertain as to what we might apologise for, Francis offers some tips: “I’m sorry… if I raised my voice today”; …I passed by without greeting you; …I was late, …if this week I’ve been so silent, …if I’ve talked too much without ever listening; …I forgot; “…I was angry and took it out on you”. If we are honest with ourselves there are so many “sorry’s” we can say each day.
Francis goes on to say, “We are all aware that the perfect family does not exist, nor does the perfect husband, nor the perfect wife. We exist, and we are sinners. …Never let a day go by without asking forgiveness, or without restoring peace to your home.” There is profound wisdom for all of us in this very simple and practical advice.
For a full translation of Pope Francis’ words: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-dialogue-with-engaged-couples