The four F’s
He came across a letter allegedly from Pope Francis, which letter was his advice for maintaining a good marriage. Francis placed great stress on forgiveness and family.
This is Kinutil’s take on the same topic:
Freedom should be the first of the four Fs for maintaining a good, lasting relationship. One could, of course, say instead, “Family”. But the concept of family is so fundamental in intimate relationships it shouldn’t even count. After all, we have a relationship with neighbors whom we may hardly even see. But this relationship is not at all the topic here. The topic here is the relationship between husband and wife. Husband and wife are a unit of family even if they might not even be married in church or have children.
But a good intimate relationship will not last if the people involved do not feel themselves liberated by the relationship. And since liberation is always a complex personal story that takes on many forms depending on how the person defines it, then it goes to follow, this sense of liberation must be equal for both. Or perhaps the better term should be complementary. Thus, a good, lasting relationship should provide complementary freedom to both partners.
Given the social conditions as they stand now, this complementary freedom should allow the two partners to take on roles they themselves decide on, notwithstanding tradition. The woman might want to pursue a career and see the world. A man may want to keep house and look after the children, or be the “artist” he or she always dreamed to be. Though this relationship would necessarily be non-traditional, still, it might work. Perhaps far better than if both pursued a career and thought keeping house and looking after the children or being an artist are menial work. The assignment of who the major bread winner is should be a negotiable item in any relationship.
A good family relationship should not require the sacrifice of any of the partners’ dreams. Although a big measure of sacrifice and patience will most likely be required. It is the nature of dreams and relationships to require patience and sacrifice.
Pope Francis is right. Forgiveness is the second of the four Fs. People are not perfect. They cannot know another person so well or well enough that they can take the full measure of how capable each one is at keeping away from “sin” and betrayal. Sin and betrayal are themselves subjective things. And they might as well hark back to something a wise rabbi once said: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
And then there is always the fact that two people going into a relationship think they know each other though they really don’t. People are seldom ever so stable that they do not change over time. The fact itself of going into a stable relationship, the fact of that relationship, by itself, will most likely change the person immediately.
One cannot take one’s expectations of another into the relationship. People who do that will be disappointed in due course. But even so, the strong relationship must survive through great disappointment. No relationship between two people can ever be what was imagined when the relationship began.
And so the good relationship cannot be built on an assessment of how true the partners have been to expectations established at the onset of that relationship. Pope Francis is right to say it must be built on forgiveness.
But beyond forgiveness is the ability to forget. Forgetfulness is the third F of a lasting relationship. A partner should not raise the past every time the partners come into a relationship crisis. Otherwise, the relationship will be built on the long history of sin and betrayal, which history is orated every time a new sin comes along.
It is inevitable that two partners will quarrel. Sometimes, the more they quarrel the healthier the relationship becomes. At least, they can be sure they do not ignore each other. But if every wrong thing is remembered, then the relationship cannot help but become tiresome. What is forgiven must be forgotten. It is only after forgetting that a relationship may be rebuilt, as it were, from scratch.
And so the first three of the four Fs of a good, lasting relationship are: freedom, forgiveness, and forgetfulness. Some say the last F is the most interesting of all. Quite unfortunately, that F cannot be discussed in pleasant company nor at this forum.
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