Conclusion ~ Humility – Part VI
Each of these four principles that we have discussed Respect, Gratitude, Sacrifice, and Patience, are characteristics of love that lead to a healthy marriage. Each of them require a key ingredient: humility. In order to practice respect, gratitude, sacrificial acts, and patience in our marriages, we must humble ourselves. One sure way to humility is through the active avoidance of negative thoughts, something that Saint Paisios spoke about often!
One of his most beloved analogies was to compare negative thoughts to airplanes that are circling above us, sent to us from the outside, not from within the heart. In this analogy, the airplanes, or negative thoughts, are evil suggestions that need a place to land. If we simply refuse to build them a “runaway” then they will pass over and go somewhere else; however, if we accept them and give them a place to land, they will influence us negatively and will drive us away from God. In marriage, the war against negative thoughts is a war between grumbling on the one hand, and doxology on the other. The more we accept the negative thoughts concerning our spouse, the more we will grumble. However, when we reject those negative thoughts and transform our perception of our spouse, we will be brought instead to thanksgiving or “doxology”. “Grumbling begets grumbling, and doxology begets doxology”, according to the Elder. This frame of mind, or phronima, informs how we process the events around us, and has a great effect on our general outlook and feelings toward our spouse. With one frame of mind we live in hell, and with the other we live in Paradise.
Our marriages can either be a personal paradise or a personal hades – and we have the power over which one we live in. We are human beings with a free-will; the agency is ours, no matter our circumstances. This truth is witnessed to in the lives of the saints of our Church – they often allowed very difficult and painful things to befall them while keeping their eyes on Christ, and their hope in Him for salvation. If we only had the courage of the martyrs! Their martyric spirit would be of such benefit to us as we journey towards salvation hand-in-hand with our spouse.
Marriage is such a wonderful gift from God – a gift of true companionship as we make our way through the often difficult terrain of this earthly life; yet even greater than companionship is the gift of allowing another person to become an instrument of our salvation. Let us give thanks to God for this gift, and resolve to never take it for granted! Amen.
 Ibid. 157