During a LOVESTRONG Marriage retreat, Fr. Eric of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church shared a terrific talk related to the Sacrament of Marriage to more than 70 couples in attendance.
One point he made that hit home with me was the following: “For a marriage to happen, we must first experience a death.”
I was captivated because I did not know where he was going with the story.
But it quickly made sense when he stated the following …
“The death that must happen is that of the ego we bring to the marriage.”
When Ego Dictates
Here are some examples when a strong and uncontrolled ego dictated my life:
- While officiating a collegiate basketball game, a coach asked me a question about a call I made against his team. Instead of providing a short and professional response, I made excuses to rationalize my call. I also remember showing some anger with my facial expression. I can tell he was unhappy with my approach. My ego prevented the opportunity to develop positive rapport with the coach.
- While working as an IT Analyst for a major insurance company, my manager provided constructive feedback on a work-related issue. Although there was merit in his guidance, I felt he was picking on me. My thoughts were something like this … “Even if he is partially right that I can improve, he should worry about Martin, Jessica, and Katie. They are the loafers!”
These are just two examples when ego can take a manageable situation and make it into a problematic situation. In fact, in the workplace, it can lead to disruptive behavior, possibly getting someone fired.
Ego and Marriage
I have so many examples of when my ego has caused problems in our marriage. For years, I had a tough time admitting to my wife I was wrong. My pride took over, and I thought it was best to prove I was right, even though it was obvious I was flat out wrong.
My wife would often deal with these situations humbly and with no ego. In fact, her kind and loving approach meant we averted many disagreements from escalating.
Several years ago, I decided my behavior was unhealthy. It was time to start working on myself, which meant I must look inwardly. As Fr. Eric noted, it was time for me to kill the enormous ego that often dictated my actions.
In my case, I’ve learned that my ego has many lives. I can kill it on a Tuesday, and it can resurface on Wednesday. In some cases, I destroy it in the morning, and it resurrects itself by the afternoon.
It’s beautiful to know today that I can sense when my ego is about to take over my behavior, so I never give it a chance to gain momentum.
As the retreat came to an end, an attendant made one more comment I will take with me and apply …
“I will stop being so hard-headed, and I will lead with my heart.”
God is Good!