These parents and grandparents who help couples in crisis have learned a few secrets to making marriage work.
Stella (65) and Victor Dominguez (68), the parents of six children and grandparents of eight, help couples in crisis, remarried divorcees, and people abandoned by their spouses. The couple, who were delegates from Paraguay for the World Meeting of Families in Rome (June 22-26, 2022), have gone through difficulties in their married life but they’ve managed to overcome these challenges thanks to these 5 tips inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis.
“Pleasure and passion are very important … You have to renew your marriage every day,” explain Victor and Stella. Thus, they advise spouses to show their affection by multiplying small gestures of love and attention in daily life. These can include a heart-to-heart talk, a date, or just an impromptu dance, with the lights dimmed and the door closed so as not to be disturbed.
Patience can mean carrying the other person, their problems and their fatigue, on your shoulders. It’s important to do this with joy and happiness so that patience becomes a catalyst of mercy towards the other person and even towards yourself. Patience also includes the capacity to dialogue and to accept your spouse as he or she is, even if little habits and mannerisms are annoying.
Stella also insists on the need to accept your spouse’s weaknesses: “Victor is quite slow-moving, while I live at a hundred miles an hour. I have to be patient so I don’t get mad at him. But I know Victor has other good qualities.”
Couples must persevere in love, and especially in prayer. The couple follows Pope Francis’ advice to pray together for each other: “Our Father, give us today our daily love.” “Victor prays for me and I pray for him. I pray precisely for my weaknesses, the things that bother me. I ask the Lord to help me move forward,” says Stella.
But you also need to persevere in dialogue. “Listening to the other person doesn’t mean hearing what I want to hear, but listening with my heart and listening beyond,” notes Victor. We have to “persevere in listening to understand if the other person is tired, if he’s had a bad day, if he’s angry about something … Sometimes he doesn’t want me to talk to him. And if I want to talk to him, if I want to tell him things, I have to be able to contain myself, and that’s perseverance,” adds Stella, because she knows that her husband needs his personal space from time to time.
This couple’s motto is, “Always forgive.”
“Asking for forgiveness means giving freedom to the other person. If we don’t experience forgiveness, it’s very difficult to forgive. Forgiving ourselves and others, our children for example, is very important,” explains the couple. And they add, “Do not go to sleep without making peace so that a ‘cold war’ doesn’t happen the next day.”
For Victor, small details lead back to the first tip — passion. These little details are in fact the little gestures of love and affection we can make in everyday life: bringing breakfast in bed, giving flowers without any special occasion, sharing a moment together, listening to music together, calling your spouse during the day, or sending a little message to say something nice, etc. These small details enrich the inner world of the couple and help their emotional and physical intimacy. “Love is like a flower. You can’t neglect it,” advises Victor.