Compromise in Married Life: A Homily
Clash of Clans
“Human differences may be hard to reconcile but can possibly be reckoned with.”
For example, camera or picture-taking! There are those of us who use the camera sparingly while others use it consistently. Our couple here could speak for themselves. Just check their Facebook pages and you can tell who use their cameras sparingly or consistently. At times, we see them in “selfies” or in “groufies.” But one is thing is for sure, “groufies” happen under certain mutuality!
Another example, C.O.C. (Clash of Clans), which by the way, is an online strategy game very known to teenagers of today and the “not-so-teens.” “Boss Gabs” or “Doc Gabs” as he is fondly called by his clan mates could strategize very impressive attacks to enemies be it “go-wi-pe,” (golem-wizard-p.e.k.k.a. troops) “go-wi-wi,” (golem-wizard-witch) or “lava-loons” (lava-balloons). From the outside, Noemi could just grin in understanding. Again, certain mutuality could deem it possible among couples of today.
When I got back from the U.S., I stayed at this hotel with free buffet breakfast. The food was mediocre and so I was drawn to look at my tablemates. Just beside me was a couple. The wife was busy munching her food while the husband was hooked to his smart phone. Upon a glance, I could tell he was playing C.O.C. Bored with my food, I asked the wife as modestly as I could, “Miss, is it ok with you that while you eat, your husband is busy playing C.O.C. and not talking to you?” The husband stopped playing and looked at me suspiciously as if he will eat me alive for his breakfast. The wife realizing the awkwardness of the situation suddenly responded to his defense with pride, “It is okay. In fact, I also keep an account (gets her smart phone to show if off to me) – Level 50, Town Hall 7!” As the conversation progressed, they told me that they were there to celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary. Unbelievable? Maybe. But is it possible? Absolutely!
“Human differences may be hard to reconcile but can possibly be reckoned with.”
The big question is HOW? Just ONE powerful word, COMPROMISE! The dictionary defines compromise as, “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.” Key words for us to ponder upon: “settlement of differences” and “mutual modifications.” I think that couples of today need to undergo a “compromise training” (if there is such a thing). Most broken marriages are caused by couples being unable to compromise from their differences. The absence of which is one of the main causes of divorce or separation among couples today. In fact, if you research the Top 10 list of reasons for marriage breakdowns, 2nd in the list (the 1st you obviously know - infidelity) is the LACK OF COMMUNICATION IN RELATIONSHIPS. As you can see, open communication does not always mean “agreeing” with each other. At times, it is the contrary. When the couple disagrees on something, most likely because they are communicating and stating their positions clearly. Such thing could only happen when the couple reaches a point of compromise by finding a balance in between. In that sense, compromise could then become a virtue – a repeated good moral action which bonds the couple together.
In our second reading, St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (3:12-14), he implicitly describes compromise by saying, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” Here, compromise becomes a pathway towards other virtues needed for a healthy and spiritually-enriched married life. After a heated discussion, exchange of hurtful words and at times regrettable gestures, the couple reaches a point of balance through a compromise. “And over all these,” St. Paul says, “put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”
The Wedding Feast at Cana
Our Gospel on the one hand, depicts concretely how Jesus and Mary reached a compromise. Allow me to call this Gospel event and “An Event of Compromise in the Life of Jesus and Mary.” Jesus’ hour has not yet come (with reference to His glorification). In other words, it was not an agreed moment with His Father in heaven to show signs. By virtue of prudence, his mother Mary, commands that he does something to address a pressing need. Jesus obliged after hesitating. He might have disagreed with his mother but such an undeniable sign could not be left unperformed as it could point to His own nature as the Son of God which both Jesus and Mary could not deny – compromise!
Nong Gabo and Noemi, the world around us does not seem to give a more positive reality of marriage. Marriage seems to be surreal, temporary and even disposable like our modern-day gadgets. Yes, no marriage is problem-free; no marriage is perfect and that’s the reality. Nevertheless, though difficult as it may seem, it is not a mystery that can’t be resolved by human understanding. If things get out of hand, find ways to sort things out. If you find yourselves in disagreement communicate. If you want to get your message across, compromise. Above all, wrap all things up in love. None of your family and relatives could have given a perfect model of on how to live a happy married life, but it does not mean that it is not possible. Its possibility lies on both parties sorting things out to make it work with faith and confidence in the grace of God initiated in this bond of matrimony. It is my prayer that both of you will share a marriage for a lifetime and bring up a family like no one else can. May your life together be blest with prosperity, kindness, mutual self-giving, respect and most of all love.
An American poet, Phyllis McGinley once said, “Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy.” Make compromise an ingredient into which you could build your married life upon in love. Furthermore, if you are asking me if you found the right person to marry I have no way of knowing. For me, it is a choice to make each other become the right person for each one. If both of you knows how to compromise well, each of you then becomes the right person for one another. There is no point in between. Each one has to choose to be made right for each other!
Finally, let me define the word in an acronym as I see it speak for itself:
C – stands for CHRIST, who MUST be at the center of your married life;
O – for OBEDIENCE, which contrary to subservience humbles and dignifies the person who exercises it;
M – for MARY, our Mother, a perfect model of true discipleship;
P – for PRUDENCE every relationship has to find its place;
R – for RESPECT without which marriages break apart;
O – for OUTWARD LISTENING to give each one a place in an argument;
M – for MUTUAL ASCENDANCY, which in marriage is assumed co-responsibly;
I – for INTIMACY blest by God in the giving of oneself to another;
S – for SPIRITUALITY, which no one can deny to succeed in marriage and in any relationship;
E – for EQUALITY and BALANCE if one has to make marriage a VIRTUE – a pathway to LOVE.
Nong Gabo and Noemi, I claim no expert in the field of married life as I am a happy celibate. But I am for certain that any relationship is a work in progress. It is not in the failures and difficulties that define a relationship, but in choosing to make the relationship work in the midst of those failures and difficulties. You are about to say “YES” to this marriage. Let it mean, “I ACCEPT YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU WILL BECOME. LET ME TREAT YOU RIGHT AS YOU ARE THE RIGHT PERSON FOR ME. I LOVE YOU AND LET ME KEEP THAT LOVE BURNING EACH DAY TILL I DIE. AMEN.”
God bless us all!