Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love, Humility and Three Things You Should Always Say to Your Wife

In this season of Lent I shall share with you a hard won secret which I refer to as the three most important things you should always say to your wife. I, of course, ask for nothing in return, but I do suggest that if you indeed find this advice useful, you give thanks for it in the form of alms. First, however, I would like to make a few remarks about the virtue of humility.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that “…Humility is annexed to the virtue of temperance (a cardinal virtue) … because temperance includes all those virtues that refrain (or moderate) … the inordinate movements of our desires or appetites. Humility is a … virtue opposed to (or moderating) pride…”
The season of Lent culminates in the greatest act of humility that will ever occur in the history of the mankind, the death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ -- beaten, naked and nailed to the cross in a form of execution reserved for the scum of the earth. Not only was His Crucifixion the greatest act of Humility, it was also the greatest act of Love.
Rafael Merry del Val (1865-1930) was a Spanish scion who attended St James Roman Catholic School at Baylis House, Slough, Buckinghamshire, England. He liked horses, dancing and the shooting sports. He was considered an excellent shot. He completed his theological studies in Rome, and was a priest by the time he was 23 years old.
Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (1835 – 1914) was the son of a village postman, and he lived his childhood in poverty together with his three brothers and six sisters. His parents, though poor, understood the value of an education, and, every day, Giuseppe Sarto walked to school which was located 3.5 miles from his home. He was ordained a priest at the age of 23 in 1858.
So here we have two priests: the peasant and the blueblood. History shows us the peasant became Pope Pius X – later canonized Saint Pius X, and the blueblood became his servant Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State of the Holy See. Consider the humility of the request. Consider the humility of the acceptance.
The Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val
O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
The three most important things you must say to your wife:
1. “Yes, Dear.”
2. “It’s all my fault.”
3. “You’re looking especially lovely…” (the rest depends -- we will discuss an example later on.)

OK let’s take them one at a time, but first let me anticipate what may be your first objection: what about “I love you.”? Where is that on your list? Good point. My answer is that it is written all over that list, but not included on the list. That is the way you need to think of using this list. These are words that you need to use and say a lot, and they are words of love. Your challenge is to master the thinking that goes on behind the words, and not necessary the exact words. Then you must apply the thinking behind the words to the situation at hand. The words “I love you.” are great words, and they have great impact, but they would grow tired and lose their meaning if repeated too often. Think about the very first time you met your wife. Did you tell her that you loved her on that occasion? Didn’t it take a while, and perhaps many occasions before you were prepared to make that kind of a statement to her? Love should be special, not banal. The words I have chosen have a higher threshold for avoiding banality than “I love you”. After you have memorized them and used them for a while try to master the thinking and rephrase them, but, for starters, they will do.

“Yes, dear.”

The thinking that goes on behind these words should include thoughts of affirmation and affection. The overall meaning of the phrase is “I hear you”. The message you should be trying to connote to her is that you are at her service in this regard. It may well be, for you, an act of humility. So be it! Suck it up! You are the man! She is the woman. Remember way back when you built that pedestal for her? Your goddess beckons. Go to her. Now!

“It's all my fault.”

No one likes the taste of Crow. Why should you be any different? Rather than finding who’s at fault, it is preferable to take responsibility for a bad outcome, this is especially true where the actual cause of the problem lies in that grey fog where each of you actually may have played a role in the matter. Accentuate your role, and don’t even talk about hers. If it’s your fault, you may then be instrumental in solving the problem or finding a way out of the dilemma. However you must be accepting of the fact that even though you claimed responsibility she may have the solution to the problem. In that case, provided it is rational, for dessert, after eating crow, have a wedge of humble pie, and agree to her solution. The possibility also exists that by you taking responsibility, she begins to see the situation in a new light, and this may lead her to admit to errors she would not otherwise admit, but don’t count on that happening. We are not talking about executing some clever maneuver or lawyer’s trick on your part. We are talking about getting a situation “off the dime” and ending a dispute that has the potential to become very corrosive and non productive to your marriage. Who wants that?

“You’re looking especially lovely…”

It has been said time and again that women are detail oriented, while men are mainly interested in “the big picture”. Let’s take the example, where for months, Gloria, down at the hair salon, has been working on your bride trying to convince her to have her hair highlighted in some new special way. Today, she finally said yes to Gloria, and, now, she has arrived home and is in her kitchen with a kind of expectant air about her, and at about the same time, you, Neanderthal that you are, emerge from the garage after a bout of wrestling with a lawn mower tune up. You may say to yourself, “hmm she looks different, and she’s got that air about her again”, but you cannot pinpoint exactly what change has occurred. Let us restate the problem unequivocally. She’s gone and done something that has changed her appearance, and you don’t know what it is, and you’re not even really sure she’s done that – she’s got that air about her after all. Careful buddy! You are skating on thin ice! Don’t say something like “What did you do to yourself?” That’s really dumb, because it forces her to reveal her secret to you, and that is the last thing you want her to do. Where there is a secret, there is mystery. Where there is mystery, there is enchantment. It’s all part of her charm. So let’s face it, you’re clueless about what she’s done, but she does look kind of cute over there the way she always does. So what do you say? “You’re looking especially lovely this afternoon, my dear. How about a date tonight, after I get this lawn mower grease off my hands and take a shower?”

That’s what you say to your wife. Got it? Great! Go do it!

1 comment:

A. L. Jagoe said...

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Armiger Jagoe, editor of
The Joyful Catholic