JOHNSON: Shhh... silence is golden, especially for people with heart problems

November 12, 2019

This column is not a medical one about ways to help you or your loved one’s arrhythmia or tachycardia. Nor is it your typical one about the importance of communication in marriage.

Everyone knows good communication is key to any healthy relationship.

“Talk time” helps couples grow in emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy. So yes, please, go ahead and dialogue. Talk about your feelings, your thoughts, your hopes, dreams and fears. Talk to your beloved about your relationship with God and the saints and how you connect with them and why you want to be like them. Talk about what you like and dislike in your physical relationship and, in this sphere, please, do more than talk with your spouse.

Physical intimacy in marriage is communication. Any good counselor will tell you that a couple who is struggling with physical intimacy more than likely has been struggling with communication to achieve emotional and spiritual intimacy.

In our world of words where communication is king, I would like to propose that communication is really only a part of the answer. Quality communication and dialogue are crucial, but silence, and what we can accomplish with it, is golden.

Silence gets a bad rap. I think it is because people misuse it. You know what I am talking about… using silence as a way to get back at someone, silence as revenge, as in giving people the “silent treatment.”

I am not talking about that type of silence, which is cruel and an offense to charity. I am talking about the deliberate and mutual gift of silence to achieve a higher purpose. Giving our loved ones room to be quiet and giving ourselves the same gift enables us to think and contemplate. More than anything, it gives us and those we love the time and space to talk to and be with God. When done as couples, prayerful silence allows couples to connect with God together.

“Be still (and quiet) before the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” says the psalmist (Psalm 37:7). Communication skills are great and engaged, and married couples can become closer when they utilize them. However, no amount of skills can transform a heart.

The main relationship problem of our day is not just a lack of skills, it’s a stony heart problem. Only God can transform hearts, and only in silent prayer can we ask God for help in this arena. The prophet Ezekiel notes, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” (Ez. 36:26).

We definitely have a heart condition, so what can we do about it?

First, we should recognize Jesus’s process of transforming hearts into natural ones typically goes by way of a silent examination of conscience and the confessional, the Lord’s operating room for stony hearts. After that, we can do our best to participate more fully in the Sacramental Life of the Church, and practice all the good skills we know, in that order!

In a few short weeks, we will be entering the beautiful season of Advent, a time of prayer in anticipation of the coming of our Lord, Jesus at Christmas.

To help married couples have some quiet time away and be with each other in silence and in prayer, the area of Marriage Enrichment and Parenting Education at the Family Life Office is sponsoring its biannual Living Covenant Retreat from Dec. 6 to 8.

If you don’t have an entire weekend to get away with your spouse, perhaps you can make a commitment to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a couple during the season of Advent.

Many parishes have some time set aside for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, while others have perpetual adoration.

Allow “silence” to become a part of how you communicate with those you love. And if for no other reason, just be quiet for a moment, for “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from trouble (Proverbs 21:23).

Amen to that! 

Teresita Johnson is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry.