Thursday, August 08, 2013

Marriage ~ a series of lessons

(our wedding crowns on our wedding day,
picture by our wonderful photographers). 

Two things on marriage
I wanted to focus on today
from what I've learned in the first
almost year of marriage*.

1. No 'green stamping' 

My husband told me of this term.
A quick Google search did not turn up
much to explain it,
so this will have to do:
It is a metaphor for when someone has
had some frustrations or disagreements that
they are not mentioning in a relationship
but they are being imprinted or 'stamped' in
one's emotional cheque-book as it were
and if the green stamps continue to accrue,
eventually the book is full
and the person suddenly explodes,
having had unspoken frustrations building for sometime.

1b. Humility is knowing oneself

The other part I have found of not 'green-stamping' is
the imperative to seek humility.
my spiritual father taught me years ago,
is knowing yourself.

Kathleen Norris writes on this in
The Cloister Walk in her essay
"Good Old Sin" in which she says:
the goal of the monks was to know themselves
as they truly were,
warts and all, 
and to be able to call it "good," not in order to 
excuse bad behavior,
but to accept the self without delusions. 
The point was to know the material you are working with,
in order to give a firmer foundation to your hope for change.
~ Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk (page 128).

While it is important to not let everything slide
and 'green stamp' like crazy,
so it is important to realize that you too are a sinner.
You too drive the other person crazy sometimes. 

It is also really helpful to do what my husband calls
'sandwiching' which is quite simply
sandwiching your criticism with a nice thing before,
a nice thing after.

Remind yourself and your spouse what
you like about them.
Constructively and with as much kindness as you can
say what is troubling you.
Say it without attacking the other person.
Say it in love, not anger.

When angry,
give yourself sometime to cool down.
If you failed and burst out angry,
go, cool down and when able, seek forgiveness for the

Forgive quickly.
How many times my spiritual father in Ottawa
encouraged us to do this!
How hard it is for us.
How hard it is for me.
Let go of the wrong.**
Let it go.
Forget it.

Accept that you all make mistakes...

Seek to figure out how to right the situation ~
this can take time, communication and prayer.

2. The listening exercise.

This one we learned in our marriage counseling conference
we went to before we were married.

It is simple and goes like this:

One person talks for two minutes and the other person listens.
Then the listener tells the other person what they heard
the other say.
Talk about this.

Then the other talks and the other listens for two minutes
the listener then saying to the one who was speaking
what they heard them say.
Talk about this.


Pray often.
Pray little prayers.
Pray for help when you are having a
As the Mother of God for help
and protection.
Do not despair.

*Note: As is obvious as I am married less than one year: My lessons learned on marriage are ongoing and of course are not replacing the many good sources on marital harmony or help. Talking to one's priest, 
to a counselor whose goal is to sustain marriages and many books may be of help.
 A few books I know of on marriage are found here.
** When I am referring to wrongs here I am NOT referring to ANY sort of abuse but
rather interpersonal conflicts that often arise between people. 


Martha said...

I'm reading Molly Sabourin's book, "Close to Home" right now, and one passage that I had to reread was on page 19, that marriage (or love) alone, is not enough, but the sacrament of God is what gives us strength to live in a healthy marriage!

E Helena E said...

Dear Elizabeth, This is brilliant!

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I'm loving these thoughtful and insightful posts!