I doubt most people enjoy fighting with their spouse. Yet most couples would see arguing as an unpleasant and sometimes necessary part of marriage. When two people live together, they’re bound to bump against each other’s rough edges. Every couple has issues which need to be addressed honestly. Sometimes—because we’re human—we bring anger into it. It happens.
I have a very, very hard time accepting this fact of married life. I hate arguing with my husband. I hate conflict and (scrupulous me) I especially hate the guilty feelings that come with my feelings of anger. My knee-jerk reaction is to think that my feeling angry is always a sin.
As a consequence, I spent several years of marriage avoiding necessary communication so as to avoid all those yucky feelings. Instead of saying, “Hey, honey? That thing you did? It bugged me,” I’d opt for the much superior and totally awesome passive-aggressive approach of silently tiptoeing around my husband like a wounded victim. Because this…
I’m upset. Can you tell I’m upset? I feel guilty for being upset, but could you please apologize to me, anyway? I’m not going to tell you what you did because that’d be an accusation and I don’t like accusing you. That’s right, you’ll need to guess. Even though I’m not sure I even have a right to be upset, I still want you to validate my feelings even though I’m not going to tell you what they are…
… works, right?
It sounds crazy to say, but I’ve had to work hard at arguing. My scruples about voicing my opinions or hurt feelings have to be overcome in order for us to have a healthy marriage.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola tells the scrupulous person that “a soul that wishes to make progress in the spiritual life must always act in a manner contrary to that of the enemy:”
If the enemy seeks to make the conscience lax, one must endeavor to make it more sensitive. If the enemy strives to make the conscience delicate [i.e. scrupulous] with a view to leading it to excess, the soul must endeavor to establish itself firmly in a moderate course so that in all things it may preserve itself in peace. (No. 350)
For me, saying I’m upset is acting “in a manner contrary to that of the enemy.” Every time my husband and I have a disagreement and I feel those horrible guilty feelings, I have to die to myself and do the thing I really don’t want to do: talk.
Others who struggle with scruples: do you also think that your marriage ought to be perfect? And that any failure to be perfect must be a result of sin? If so, how do you battle this? Please leave a comment—I would love to hear your thoughts!
Copyright 2016 Rhonda Ortiz.