This week Aricca shares some practical ways to build up your marriage!
We recently attended and helped with a Marriage seminar at our local parish, and I wanted to share the fruits of it with y’all. The program asked us to take a threefold approach to building up our marriages – Pray, Talk, and Act. I’ll let the saints walk us through those points one by one.
Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.
–St. John Chrysostom
Well that sounds like a laundry list of things my marriage can always use more of. We have plenty of worries, especially with bills coming in and a two-year-old who seems intent on climbing to the top of everything he encounters. We experience sadness in many ways, from little trials (like my recent adventures at the dentist) to the more trying grief that comes with life in this veil of tears. Our foundation of happiness is always being tested for weak spots. In short, the world is assaulting our marriage at every turn.
The marriage seminar encouraged us to renew our prayer life together. It’s easy(ish) to maintain family prayer time every night. And while prayer with the kids builds our family up, it doesn’t build up our marriage in quite the same way. From the reluctance to pray about “complicated” needs for fear of having to answer difficult questions from the kids to the general chaos of little kids simultaneously playing and praying and bouncing; family prayer only goes so deep. Prayer together as a couple, whether formal or spontaneous, builds up our marriage in ways little else does. My husband has said he never feels closer to me than when we do our annual renewal of our Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (a solid 40 days of prayer together). Prayer bring us closer together and closer to God. It is truly the foundation for cheerfulness in our marriage.
The Christian vocation consists in making heroic verse out of the prose of each day.
–St Josemaria Escriva
The prose of most of our days involves comparing notes on our schedule, figuring out the next Target list, and deciding who will be getting up to change the next diaper. In the midst of living a hectic life, we can often forget to have real conversations with each other. Our hopes, our dreams, our happy memories. All the little things that reveal our deepest selves. The marriage program asked us to make time to talk about something other than the grocery list every night. They gave us “conversation starters” which ranged from the serious to the corny. But in the midst of following the prompts down memory lane about our first date or our favorite movie, we were rediscovering all the reasons we love each other. Conversation in marriage needs to be about more than just life. It needs to be about ourselves.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
–Blessed Theresa of Calcutta
The last pillar of the marriage seminar was action. But not some great project, but rather a thousand little actions that build a great foundation for a shared life. My husband makes my coffee every morning. He doesn’t have to, obviously it’s not the hard to make a cup of coffee. But it lets me begin every day knowing that my husband wants to take care of me. It’s the tiniest little example of his love for me. And when I pack his lunch, I include a little note to let him know I’m thinking of him all day long. The words we use to speak about each other, the way we notice when they do something admirable, and the ways we choose to make small sacrifices for each other’s benefit all transform our marriage from two lives lived in parallel to two lives lived together.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to come from a place of love.
Here are some random ideas that may help you love your spouse, and trust me, they’ll notice.
- Say “I love you” – use those words
- Leave love notes for your spouse
- Give your spouse a back rub
- Be affectionate – smile at your spouse,
- Hold hands
- Walk arm in arm
- Kiss your spouse goodbye for the day and hold it for the count of ten!
- Be kind to each other! Do a random and completely unexpected act of kindness for your spouse. This could include emptying the dishwasher or making coffee.
- Make time to be together.
- Make time to laugh together.
- Practice good manners – Say “please” and “thank you” or decide not to text someone else while you are talking to your spouse. It’s rude!
- Be grateful
- Be generous
- Do something fun togther
- Start to reinforce family traditions
- Before jumping into the after work/supper/evening activities, take five minutes alone (hug, kiss, share a funny story, tell each other one thing good about your day)
If you want to build a better foundation for your marriage: Pray, Talk, and Act your way there.