Believe it or not, developing a particular kind of asceticism will help you be kinder in your marriage.
Our marital relationship with the person we have married is, in its essence, in its deepest nature, a relationship of benevolence between spouses. Who would be unconscious enough to choose a life that promises to be a valley of tears? A lack of benevolence will wear down and kill any relationship. Benevolence — willing the good and happiness of others — is not always generously lived and shared, as we can easily witness around us.
There are couples who through their attitudes, show indifference, inattention, annoyance, misunderstandings — in other words, very little reciprocal benevolence. What desolation to see couples fighting coldly, insulting each other, or cutting each other down! It hurts, all the more so if they are our loved ones.
It’s no secret that life as a couple involves ups and downs where coming to an agreement can be extremely difficult. How can we find the means to live in peace, which does not always come “naturally” but which can be developed? The ancients called this disposition “benevolence”: the will to goodness, so to speak.
A matter of practice
It will be necessary to consciously direct our will towards the good, for the well-being of our relationship. And to do this, it will be a question of training for it, of practicing a specific kind of asceticism. In Ancient Greece, the word “asceticism” referred to training, to doing the exercises necessary for the realization of one’s goal, whether in sports or whatever else. So let us train for the good so that it becomes second nature to us.
First, we must ask ourselves: in our relationship, what kindness do we have towards each other? How do we talk to each other, look at each other, listen to each other? How do we take care of our partner? Not only when he or she is sick, but in our “ordinary” interactions. How much attention do I pay to his or her desires, needs, and dreams?
A review of the state of affairs will undoubtedly prove to be a little scathing, but it will certainly pay off if it is taken with humility. We will ultimately gain joy and peace: the joy of loving and peace of heart. This is quite a gift for a couple — without a doubt a sacred gift. “Peace on Earth to men and women of good will!”