Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Story Of More. Of Marriage. Of Empathy.


Let me tell you the story.
Of a wife who thinks.
And she thinks.
And thinks.
Thinks more.
Thinks more, reads more, about the sacrament of matrimony.

One word comes to her mind.

Empathy.

Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

And it comes to her.

How hard it must be to live with her, day in, day out. She feels empathy for her spouse ~ he,who, in the words of the encyclical Familiaris Consortio ( Pope John Paul II) relives the very fatherhood of God :

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: He will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the church.

She thinks...Effectively introduces both his children and his wife to the living experience of Christ and the Church. She remembers how he, her spouse, has worked hard, stood by her all these years, drawn her to the Church with his regular attendance at Sunday mass, with his frowns at her wayward tongue, his reminders, his example.
And she thinks again. Reads more. Cringes. With empathy.
I knew, despite the good and joyful nuggets of our daily life, that it was a difficult — harrowing — proposition for him to live with someone who is so voluble and indiscreet and extravagantly enthusiastic, someone who is always saying “yes, yes, yes!” What a burden it must be, I must be,....Finding Forgiveness in a Ziploc
So she thinks Ah, yes. She must be that burden. That overly enthusiastic, overly energetic, overly bubbly, over-the-top, on-the-go, saying yes-to-all-activities burden. And she feels that empathy for, an understanding of, her spouse.
And , then, she thinks ~ what to do with this empathy?
I make a point to remember that the temperament of my husband, the temperament of that patrol boy, is my salvation. It is beyond the call of duty and maybe even love that he makes the effort, time and again, to keep me from running into traffic.
The second friend said, “But in order to maintain that perspective you have to reach within yourself to such a deep place.”
This is true. But like any exercise, any devotion, it’s a practice. And even if it doesn’t become easier, one hopes it becomes habit.
More from Finding Forgiveness in a Ziploc
She continues to think. To resolve to make the exercise of empathy a daily habit. Like her devotion to the prayers in her missal. Like her daily workout.
She can put on the cloth, the scarf, of empathy. She can pray the prayer of a wife.
Daily.

10 comments:

Mary G said...

Leonie,

This was an amazing post! Now, off to pray for a bit of empathy for my dh ... who like yours ... keeps ME on the straight and narrow and sometimes I fight him a bit on that....

Blessings and hugs ...

Paula said...

JUST what I needed to read this morning. I've been so sown about everything that has happened in the last 18 months, but I've never stopped to truly consider what my dh has gone through. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Leonie said...

You two ladies wil never know how your comments have helped me, now, tonight. THANK you!

stef said...

Leonie, you and I must be on the same wavelength! I've been pondering these thoughts for a few weeks now. And DH and I are reading a "marriage retreat in a book", sorta. And answering the questions. In fact I'm planning to post a bit on it at the 4real boards, soon. I hope you'll share some more of your thoughts!

Leonie said...

Hey, Steff, let me know when you post on that book - I am interested in the discussion.

rox said...

Thank you Leonie I'm finding it hard lately to have empathy around here .
I know my dh keeps things rational too I tend to react emtionally etc. he is very very patient and calm . He and I balance each other but more so he balances me ;-)
could you do a post on 13yo boys next ;-)

Pam said...

That was the most amazing article. And you were very brave to be so open in posting about it. Thank you for both.

Something else to talk about at breakfast...

Leonie said...

Wow, Pam and Rox, thank you for your honest sharing. Rox, I am still working on 13 year old boys. :-) Pam - can't wait to talk over a breakfast!

rox said...

ps. Leonie I also am love love loving your paintings you are choosing . I am very visual and you really have such wonderful talent in choosing those pics that are pleasing to the eye . Thanks again

Leonie said...

Aw, nice, thanks!