Previously, I used to physically discipline my 4-year old daughter Samantha, more than I should have. And I also used to shout at my wife a lot, in what were usually one-way arguments that would normally only escalate with her silence.
A Marriage Enrichment Retreat (MER) was held in Gurgaon by the CFCI Gurgaon team, earlier this year, which was of great benefit to me in two important aspects of my life.
During the program, as the speaker spoke in Session 1, I realized that there was a lot of disciplining from me and very less love that I portrayed across to my daughter. I comprehended that I was strictly correcting my child, without leaving any room for love. I decided to balance both the approaches – disciple and love and make it a 50:50. I was touched by the speakers who shared during the MER program of their own struggles and gave practical advice on how they overcame similar hardships.
The day the program ended, I decided to change. The next morning, after the retreat, as soon as my daughter woke up, I announced what I call, ‘The Week of Love’, to her. I told my daughter that there would be no spanking for one week, as soon as she heard that she immediately hugged me for 10 minutes.
What started off as a self-imposed rule to not spank my daughter for 1 week, has now evolved into a system which she understands – first a warning, then a yell, and only if she disobeys, she gets a spank. It has been a few months now since the retreat, and the ‘Week of Love’ has matured well into a structure.
In the last 2 weeks, I started another initiative of what I termed as, ‘The Week of Mercy and Compassion’, it involved a week of practising the opposite of rage towards my spouse. I decided that whenever I feel rage against my wife, I will remember the Mercy and Compassion of God the Father, and try to bring that into my marriage. This has further sharpened into, ‘The Week of Patience’, which I’m practising at the moment. I find change easier when it is broken down into manageable chunks, instead of vague and open-ended thoughts or actions. Now, whenever I speak sharply to my wife, my daughter always reminds me in a sing-song way: Daddy? Mercy and Compassion!
The practical advice by the couple sharing also led me to introduce to two more changes. Firstly, I started to treat my smartphone as a landline by keeping it at a fixed place, which led me to spend less time on my phone. Secondly, I began to leave my troubles at my doorstep, at the foot of the crucifix.
I thank God for blessing me with the advice and support from the couples just like me who go through the same struggles I went through, that helped me change into a better husband and a better father.