Patristic Tradition

When the married are “right” and when they are “wrong” ( 16.03.2009 )

I have noticed that some clergymen say to those men who complain to have problems with their wives something like: ”Be patient. It is your cross. What can we do? God will award you for your patience.” Then, when the wives come, clergymen say to them also: “Be patient to deserve the award of God.” Hence, both of them may be guilty, and the priest tells them: “Endure!” And then, the one who is really guilty, receives the thought that suffers on behalf the other, and in reality he/she torments his/her partner every day.

Once, a man came in my cottage telling that he had problems with his wife. They have even reached the point to be divorced. They didn’t want to see or hear of each other. Both were heavy characters. They have had two children. They never ate at their home. The man was taking his meals in a restaurant, the woman in another restaurant; kids were eating sandwiches. Poor children! As their parents would come home, the kids would ransack the bags to find some crumbs, if any there. They were passing through terrible and dramatic moments! Moreover, the man was chanting in the church. He was going in one church; his wife was taking her way to another church. That was the top of their misunderstanding!

He would say: “What shall I do, Father, I carry a huge cross, very big cross. We are quarrelling every day.”

I would ask him: “Have you talked to your spiritual father?”

He would say: “Yes, I have. He told me to be patient and that I carry a big cross.”

And I would say further: “Right. Let’s see who is carrying the big cross. Let’s see how everything began. When you got married, did you quarrel as much as now?”

He answered: “Not at all. Eight years we lived in a great love. I loved my wife more than God. Then she has changed. She became sarcastic, furious…”

Did you hear this? He loved her more than he loved God!

Then I told him: “Wait a second, you said you loved your wife more than you loved God! Then, who is the one to be blamed? You, or your wife, so you have reached this situation? Because of you, God have taken away His grace from your wife. Now, what do you plan to do?”

“We will surely get a divorce” – he said.

“Did you find yourself another woman?” – I asked.

“Yes, I have one” – the man said.

“Don’t you understand, don’t you see that you’re the guilty one? First, you must ask for forgiveness from God, because you happened to love your wife more than you loved God. Second, you must ask for forgiveness from your wife. Tell her: ‘Forgive me. I am guilty for what we suffer at our home and for what our children suffer’. Then go to confess and start respecting God as God, and your wife as your wife. You will find out that everything will be good.” I have shaken him. He started to cry and promised that he will obey. Shortly after that, he appeared, happy and satisfied.

            “Thank you, father, you have saved us” – he said. “Everything is going well now. Both we and the kids are good.”   

            Do you see? He is guilty, and on top, he thinks that he is the one carrying the big cross!

            And you, too. You must not justify the women that come to you complaining of their husbands. I do not justify neither women or men, I just request of them to put the finger on their forehead and think a bit. Suppose, a woman comes to me saying: ”My husband is a drunk, coming home in the late hours, swears...”  Then I tell her: “Listen, when your husband comes home a bit drunk, be pleasant to him. If you start protesting like: ‘Where have you been so long? How do you allow yourself to come home so late? When you will come to your senses? What is this? It has not happened only once or twice, till when I will have to bear this?’ And then you frown, and then the devil will come and tell him: ‘Are you crazy to share your life with this stupid woman? Go out and have a nice time with some other!’

            Maybe you are right, but the devil will take him in another direction. But, when you behave in a nice manner to him, and suffer a bit and never complain on his deeds, then he will come to his senses, he will think a bit, and may correct himself.”

On the other hand, man comes to me saying: “My wife constantly grouses, screams.” “But, you come home late in the midnight, and your wife and kids are waiting for you “ – I say to him – “and you are coming home drunk and start to swear! Aren’t you ashamed? Have you got married and formed your family to torture them?”

            And finally, if one of the partners lives spiritual life, even if he/she is right, he/she is not totally right. Because, as a spiritual person, he/she must behave in a spiritual way to all the unjust he/she experiences. Hence, he/she must behave in everything related only by looking for the justice of God, always trying to calm his/her partner. 

            Therefore, if one soul is weak and sins, it will be judged mildly. But if the other, who is in a better spiritual condition does not show understanding and compassion, then he/she sins a lot more.

            When clergymen and spiritual people are behaving in a worldly manner, looking for justice in a worldly, human manner, what happens then? They have to lose their life going to courts all over the world. That’s why people suffer so much.


Elder Paisios from the Mount of Athos