"Does Your Marriage Need a Faith Lift? Try “The 40 Day Challenge” by Heidi Hess Saxton (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2017 Heidi Hess Saxton. All rights reserved.

Do you ever wish you could cross Valentine’s Day off the calendar? As you help your kids create candy-heart cards for classmates, and make a red heart Jell-O mold for supper – do you wistfully recall past celebrations that involved dinner reservations and sweet nothings whispered in the dark? Now it’s more like divide-and-conquer: One of you wrangling the kids into bed while the other (ahem) runs to the drug store, having taken one look at that Jell-0 mold and realized he’d better come up with at least a card, and quick. Then at 8:30, you rendezvous on the couch, sip a glass of wine, and turn on … your favorite show. By 9:15 you’re both snoring on the couch. In unison.

What does it take to recapture the magic? Is it even possible?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in his book Love, Marriage, and Children, acknowledged that most couples go through three stages of marriage: bliss, crisis, and contentment. While the second stage (crisis) doesn’t sound as pleasant as the honeymoon period, it is the path to mature, life-long love. “This moment of crisis,” writes Sheen, “is one in which a true and lasting love is within easy reach, if one but dies to egotism and selfishness. … The death of illusions is not the death of love. … As the food of the first moment consisted of gifts and flowers, so now the food of the third movement is the utilization of the trials, the ennui, the quarrels, and the petty worries of life to create a state of love which is always there, but which comes to consciousness only when certain occasions present themselves” (pg 12).

Sound familiar? So, what’s the best way to reach that third stage of wedded happiness? In a word . . . surrender. We must abandon ourselves to love.

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This week is National Marriage Week (February 7-14), an annual observance celebrated by Catholics all over the country who want to “celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage and to affirm and support engaged and married couples.” You can read more about it at ForYourMarriage.org.

If you’d like to continue the celebration into Lent, I have an idea for you! Give your marriage a faith lift! Starting March 1, come and join me at “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled”, where I’ll be hosting “The 40 Day Challenge: Mother Teresa Edition.” Each day I’ve created a reflection for you to read, together or on your own. I’ve also created a Facebook page where you can weigh in with your thoughts and experiences. If you like, you can subscribe to receive each day’s reflection in your email.

This year’s challenge is Mother Teresa themed to celebrate the release of my new book, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Many of the challenges contain quotes and thoughts from the book, and if you want to “dive deeper” you can get a copy through Amazon or directly through Franciscan Media.

I hope to see you online!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Copyright 2017 Heidi Hess Saxton

Heidi Hess Saxton with her family, image copyright Heidi Hess Saxton, used with permission

About the author: Heidi Hess Saxton is a Catholic wife and mother of two teenagers, and is a writer and editor at Ave Maria Press. When she isn’t freelancing, baking gingerbread, or wrestling her Chiweenie into winter gear, Heidi blogs for adoptive, foster, and special needs families at “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled”, with a dedicated page on Facebook (AMotherontheRoadLessTraveled). Her most recent book, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was published in January 2017 by Servant Books.