During the holidays I came across an article about Pope Francis. What caught my attention was the sub title “The secret to a happy marriage in just 3 words”. Naturally I was curious and wanted to know what the three words were. It turns out they were a small part of a longer letter he wrote Dec. 26, 2021 to “married couples throughout the world”. 2021-2022 has been designated as the Year of the Family and his letter expresses his affection and closeness for families as well as acknowledging the difficulties for families caused by the pandemic. It is a longish letter but his secret is tucked in half way through: “The power of saying ‘please, thanks and sorry’ can’t be underestimated.”
I think Pope Francis is right on target. I have written at length on the concept of the Space Between. Your relationship is not just the two of you, but rather the two of you plus the Space Between. The Space Between is a real energy field. There is no middle ground. It is either tension free or it is not.
Francis uses an analogy: “Marriage as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat – wave tossed yet sturdy … across a sometimes stormy sea.” A “tiny boat” is a pretty good analogy for the Space Between – you certainly don’t want to put anything negative into your “tiny boat”, especially in storm tossed waters and the pandemic has certainly thrown up some waves.
Take those three words of Pope Francis and situate them in your Space Between. PLEASE – a simple word but it softens any request. Can you please pick up some milk, or get the kids or start dinner? THANKS – is a verbal appreciation of something our partner has done. It is easy to take our partner for granted, whereas from an old brain point of view, if I am constantly hearing, thanks a lot, I really appreciate that, or you did a great job, my old brain can relax. This is not the enemy over there. It is my ally, my friend; we are on the same team. SORRY – lets my partner know I am human. None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. Sorry is a white flag. I was in the wrong. Let’s fix whatever didn’t work.
In the Romantic Love stage of a relationship, the Space Between is pretty positive. It is new, fun, exciting, romantic. Then what happens, and it is generally small things – a zing here, a shutdown, a walk away, a sarcastic remark etc. and slowly (or quickly) that energy field becomes more negative and if it continues unabated, the energy field becomes toxic. And who wants to go into a toxic space, so people start to avoid. The ultimate avoidance is divorce, or when people do stay together, they often lead parallel lives.
I believe now, the fastest way forward in a relationship is to consciously make the Space Between – sacred space, holy ground – a 0 Negativity zone. Pope Francis’ three words please, thanks and sorry, go a long way to care for that Space Between. Please and thanks are on the positive side of the equation – filling the Space Between with positives. Sorry helps eliminate any negativity. We are human, we do make mistakes. The trick is to repair the damage ASAP and sorry goes a long way in that direction.
Your relationship is you and your partner plus the Space Between; keeping your “tiny boat” free of any negativity just makes sense to better handle the storms of life.
Cheers and make 2022 a great year.