Last Friday, Pope Francis exposed his ideas regarding relationships and other social issues affecting family life, including divorce, gay marriage, amongst others, in a 256-page document titled “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love.” In addition to addressing topics that are commonly controversial amongst the Church, the Pontiff offered answers to questions that are of pastoral care such as, sex, communication, commitment and love in general.

Even though these pieces of advice are coming from the Pope himself, a 79-year-old man who swore himself to celibacy, you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate them; they are very sensible and wise. Here are the 10 things we took away from the Pontiff’s document:

  1. Trust each other: “This goes beyond simply presuming that the other is not lying or cheating. ... It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. This freedom, which fosters independence, an openness to the world around us and to new experiences, can only enrich and expand relationships.”
  2. Use the magic words: “In the family, three words need to be used. I want to repeat this! Three words: ‘Please,’ ‘Thank you,’ ‘Sorry.’ Three essential words!” he wrote. “Let us not be stingy about using these words, but keep repeating them, day after day. For ‘certain silences are oppressive, even at times within families, between husbands and wives, between parents and children, among siblings.’ The right words, spoken at the right time, daily protect and nurture love.”
  3. Love is hard work: “It is not helpful to dream of an idyllic and perfect love needing no stimulus to grow. A celestial notion of earthly love forgets that the best is yet to come, that fine wine matures with age. ... It is much healthier to be realistic about our limits, defects and imperfections, and to respond to the call to grow together, to bring love to maturity and to strengthen the union, come what may.”
  4. Focus on the good things: “Loving another person involves the joy of contemplating and appreciating their innate beauty and sacredness, which is greater than my needs. This enables me to seek their good even when they cannot belong to me, or when they are no longer physically appealing but intrusive and annoying.”
  5. Listen, listen, listen: “Instead of offering an opinion or advice, we need to be sure that we have heard everything the other person has to say. ... Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledged their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams.”
  6. Negotiate and compromise: “As love matures, it also learns to ‘negotiate.’ Far from anything selfish or calculating, such negotiation is an exercise of mutual love, an interplay of give and take, for the good of the family. At each new stage of married life, there is a need to sit down and renegotiate agreements, so that there will be no winners and losers, but rather two winners. In the home, decisions cannot be made unilaterally, since each spouse shares responsibility for the family; yet each home is unique and each marriage will find an arrangement that works best.”
  7. Accept the other person’s perspective: “Never downplay what they say or think, even if you need to express your own point of view. ... We ought to be able to acknowledge the other person's truth, the value of his or her deepest concerns, and what it is that they are trying to communicate, however aggressively.”
  8. Get interesting: “For a worthwhile dialogue we have to have something to say. This can only be the fruit of an interior richness nourished by reading, personal reflection, prayer and openness to the world around us. Otherwise, conversations become boring and trivial. When neither of the spouses works at this, and has little real contact with other people, family life becomes stifling and dialogue impoverished.”
  9. Sex is key: "God himself created sexuality, which is a marvellous gift to his creatures," he wrote. “As a passion sublimated by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a 'pure, unadulterated affirmation’ revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable. In this way, even momentarily, we can feel that ‘life has turned out good and happy,’” he says, quoting the German philosopher Josef Pieper.
  10. Make the time: "Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary. Time is needed to talk things over, to embrace leisurely, to share plans, to listen to one other and gaze in each other's eyes, to appreciate one another and to build a stronger relationship. Sometimes the frenetic pace of our society and the pressures of the workplace create problems. At other times, the problem is the lack of quality time together, sharing the same room without one even noticing the other."