Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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It has been years now that my parents do not talk to each other nor acknowledge each other's existence in the house in which we all live. Curses, hatred, misunderstanding and rejection are the predominant feelings and behavior towards my mom. This has affected my life negatively. The main problem now is that I find it easier to deal with my mom and sister than with my dad which resulted in him thinking I hate him. I don't want my dad to be upset, I want to keep the commandment "honor your father and your mother". Could Your Grace help me out?

The Holy Scripture and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often compared His love and sacrifice for the church to the blessed Sacrament of Marriage, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25). As the Holy Trinity is perfect, marriage, too, ought to be a harmonious trinity of a husband, wife, and the Lord. It is unfortunate that many individuals enter into this sacred Mystery unprepared and with many misconceptions which lead to frequent disappointments.

You have done nothing wrong; rather, the contrary. You have been honest about your feelings, respectful, offered support; and you have reminded your father to search God's words. Perhaps your mom and dad have had a history of errors that were not corrected to the standard set by the other. Pride does interfere when peace is at hand. Marriage can be complicated sometimes. In many cases, both parties will have played some role that prescribes the family system. Be careful you do not find yourself pulled to one side or the other. I caution you further that once they disclose more painful information, you may become even more conflicted and overwhelmed by your own emotions.  

I hope a spiritual father gets involved in helping your parents cope and at least refrain from any physical or emotional abuse. Perhaps he can help both of them to listen to some spiritual lectures and discussions on marriage. Discussing the Holy Bible and the stories of the saints, etc…, without specifically identifying their circumstances, may indirectly inspire your parents with hope and direct them towards positive solutions and reconciliation. The story of St. Monica, St. Augustine's mother, offers a ray of hope to many women in oppressive marriages and dysfunctional families. Her husband and his mother were very unkind to her, and her son, St. Augustine, was arrogant and rebellious. With much patience, prayers, and tears, she won them to Christ. Remain patient and steadfast in prayer.

"Let love be without hypocrisy...cling to what is good...Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another...serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer...bless and do not curse...Repay no one evil for evil....If it is possible, live peaceably with all men...overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:9-21).
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