Apart from the difficulties that can arise between parents and children, disagreements between husband and wife are also frequent and at times they seriously upset family peace. What advice would you give to married couples in this respect?
I would advise them to love one another and to realise that although disagreements and difficulties will crop up throughout their lives, if they are solved with naturalness they can even contribute to the deepening of their love.
Each of us has his own character, his personal taste, his moods at times his bad moods and his defects. But we all have likeable aspects in our personality as well, and for this reason, and many others, everyone can be loved. It is possible to live happily together when everyone tries to correct his own defects and makes an effort to overlook the faults of others. That is to say, when there is love which cancels out and overcomes everything that might seem to be a motive for coldness or disagreement. On the other hand, if husband and wife dramatise their little differences and reproach each other for their defects and mistakes, they put an end to peace and run the risk of killing their love.
Couples have the grace of the married state the grace they receive in the Sacrament of Marriage which enables them to live all the human and Christian virtues in their married life: understanding, good humour, patience, forgiveness, refinement and consideration in their mutual relations. The important thing is not to give up the effort, not to give in to nerves, pride or personal fads or obsessions. In order to achieve this, husbands and wives must grow in interior life and learn from the Holy Family to live with refinement, for supernatural and at the same time human reasons, the virtues of a Christian home. I repeat again that the grace of God will not be lacking.
Anyone who says he cannot put up with this or that, or finds it impossible to hold his peace, is exaggerating in order to justify himself. We should ask God for the strength to overcome our whims and to practise self-control. When we lose our temper we lose control of the situation. Words can become harsh and bitter and we end up by offending, wounding and hurting, even though we didn't mean to.
We should all learn to keep quiet, to wait and say things in a positive, optimistic way. When her husband loses his temper, the moment has arrived for the wife to be especially patient until he calms down, and vice versa. If there is true love and a real desire to deepen it, it will very rarely happen that the two give in to bad temper at the same time.
Another very important thing is to get used to the fact that we are never a hundred per cent right. In fact one can say that in matters like these, which are usually so debatable, the surer we are of being completely right, the more doubtful it is that we really are. Following this line of reasoning makes it easier to correct oneself later on and if necessary to beg pardon, which is the best way of ending a quarrel. In this way peace and love are regained. I am not encouraging you to quarrel but it is understandable that we should fall out at times with those we love most, because they are the people we are always with. We are not going to fall out with someone in Timbuktu! Thus small rows between husband and wife, if they are not frequent, (and they should see to it that they are not) are not a sign that love is missing and in fact they can help to increase it.
Finally, I would advise parents never to quarrel in front of their children. They can remind each other of this with a certain word, a look or a gesture. If they can not avoid the argument altogether they can, at least, put it off till later when they are more calm. The family atmosphere should be one of peace between husband and wife because peace is a necessary condition for a deep and effective education. Children should see in their parents an example of dedication, sincere love, mutual help and understanding. The small trifles of daily life should not be allowed to hide from them the reality of a love that is capable of overcoming all obstacles.
At times we take ourselves too seriously. Each of us gets angry now and again. Sometimes because it is necessary; at other times because we lack a spirit of mortification. The important thing is to show, with a smile that restores family warmth, that these outbursts of anger do not destroy affection. In a word, the life of husband and wife should consist in loving one another and loving their children, because by doing this they love God.