One couple sent a question to Pope Francis, which he read out to the congregation:
“Many feel that the issue of living together forever is beautiful, enchanting, but very daunting. We ask your word to enlighten us on this.”
The Holy Father admonished the couples that the secret for a successful marriage can be boiled down to three simple concepts: permission, thanks, and forgiveness.
1. ASK PERMISSION
PLEASE. “Please – May I? We must learn to ask: May I do this? Would you like that we do this? We take this initiative, and that we bring up our children like this. Would you like to go out tonight? … In short, to ask for agreement is to enter the lives of others with courtesy. But keep this in mind: to be able to enter into the lives of others with courtesy. It is quite different. Sometimes instead, manners can be a bit heavy, like hiking boots!”
Quoting St. Francis, the Pope said, “‘Know that courtesy is one of the properties of God … and courtesy is the sister of charity, which removes hate and protects love.’ Yes, courtesy protects love. And today in our families, in our world, which is often violent and arrogant, we need much more courtesy. And this can commence at home.”
2. GIVE THANKS
THANK YOU. “It seems easy to say the word, but we know that is not always so … But it’s important! We teach it to the children, but then we forget it ourselves! Gratitude is an important quality. An old woman once said to me in Buenos Aires: ‘Gratitude is a flower that grows in the noble land.’ The nobility of the soul is necessary to grow this flower.
“Remember the Gospel of Luke?” He continued. “Jesus heals ten who are sick with leprosy, and then only one returns to say thanks to Jesus. The Lord says, and the other nine, where are they? This is also true for us: do we know how to say thanks? In your relationship, and then tomorrow in married life, it is significant to keep alive the awareness that the other person is a gift of God, and for the gifts of God to say thank you! And in this inner attitude say thanks to each other for everything. It is not a kind word to use just with strangers, to show you are educated. It is crucial to know how to say thank you, in order to get along well together in married life.”
3. ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
I AM SORRY or excuse me. “In life, we make so many mistakes…We learn to discover our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. ‘Sorry if I raised my voice today,’ ‘I’m sorry if I went out without saying goodbye,’ ‘I’m sorry if I’m late,’ ‘If I have been so unresponsive this week,’ ‘If I talked too much without ever listening,’ ‘Excuse me, I forgot,’ ‘I was angry and I’m sorry I’ve poured it out on you’… This is how a Christian family progresses.”
“Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: never end a day without seeking for forgiveness, without peace coming back to our house, to our family,” the pope advised. “It is not unusual that there will be a misunderstanding between husband and wife, but there’s always something to do about it. We had a fight … Maybe you’re angry, maybe a plate flew, but please remember this: never end the day without making peace! Never, never, never! This is a secret, a secret to sustain love and to make peace.”
Pope Francis reminded couples that marriage must be refined and worked over daily, like “craftwork, a goldsmith’s work…Always behave so that the other person will become better. Work for this.” The pope concluded this advice by painting a beautiful picture for each of the couples came together with him, a vision of a strong marriage:
“And so, maybe, I think that one day you will pass through the streets of your country and people will say: ‘Just observe that woman, so beautiful, so strong! …It’s the husband she has, you know.’ And to you, too: ‘Look at him, what he is like! … It’s the wife he has, you know.’”