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Need for Spouses to Take “personal responsibility” Emphasized at Marriage Awareness Event

A poster for the Marriage awareness week with a focus on Reconciliation in marriage. Credit: SACBC

The need for spouses to take “personal responsibility” in their marriage relationship amid situations of misunderstanding has been underscored at the ongoing marriage awareness campaign.

“Taking personal responsibility in marriage is very important. Some people want to say they are sorry, but the other person is not ready to accept the forgiveness,” Fr. Thembelani Ngcobo said Thursday, September 30 at a virtual session of the ongoing initiative of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).

Fr. Ngcobo further said, “When we talk about reconciliation, it is important to say I have done wrong, I am sorry about it but equally important to ask, am I prepared to forgive?”

The Catholic Priest serving in South Africa’s Durban Archdiocese cautioned those in marriage against holding onto past mistakes saying, “Some people have knowledge that they have done wrong, but the other person will always remind you of what you have done even if it happened some years back.”

Spouses are expected to build “a home of forgiveness,” Fr. Ngcobo said, and challenged them to ask, “is there a room for forgiveness? Is there a room for reconciliation? Is there a room for confession?”

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The member of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Africa observed, “In most marriages, failure to take personal responsibility is the gap that we create and then we start blaming each other; there cannot be any reconciliation because nobody wants to say I messed up; nobody wants to say it was me.”

He further observed in reference to the Biblical account of Adam and Eve after disobeying God, “When there is conflict and we don’t want to talk about it, when we just want to throw everything under the carpet, we start to be ashamed; we start to have secrets; we start to hide things, but we also start to hide from ourselves.”

Yet, Fr. Ngcobo continued, “The first question that God pauses is where are you? And it’s important for us to ask ourselves where we are as couples? Where are we as a family? Where am I as an individual? Am I adding value in this relationship? Or am I draining life out of this relationship?”

If Adam and Eve would have said, “Lord I am sorry,” they would not have been thrown out of the garden of Eden, he observed.

Fr. Ngcobo went on to pose, “How many of the marriages are on rocks? How many of the marriages are struggling? How many divorces we have to undergo because ‘my ego got the better out of me; I just couldn’t say I am sorry; I just couldn’t see from your point of view.’”

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Fr. Ngcobo advised couples to always be considerate of each other whenever a conflict arises and cautioned them against regrettable utterances amid moments of anger and misunderstanding.

“When things go well, we call each other sweet names, but when the situation goes bad, we start to call each other abusive names,” the Catholic Priest said during the September 30 session of the SACBC marriage awareness campaign organized under the theme, “Reconciliation in Marriage."

There is no need to remain angry considering that no one is guaranteed about tomorrow, Fr. Ngcobo said, and added “Just because I am alive today does not mean I will be alive tomorrow; do not let the sun set down on your anger.”

“Let's try to understand from the whole point of view, why is she upset, why is he angry? And once I can understand that, it is easier for me to say I am sorry because it was not intended and the pain you are feeling because of my negligence, my recklessness, my inconsiderate I am sorry,” the Catholic Priest said.

Reconciliation is one of the important aspects that parents should strive to teach their children, he said, explaining that parents have an influence on their children.

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“If we as parents do not know how to reconcile with each other, how do we expect our children to reconcile with themselves and with God?” he posed.