Prioritizing your marriage isn't easy. Ginny Kochis details how you can restore order to the promise of your love.
Certain things in life are easy.
Finishing off that pint of ice cream.
Scrolling through your Facebook feed.
Giving the kids screentime so they’ll stop asking you five million questions.
Clearly, these are choices along the path of least resistance. Most days, they take zero effort or thought.
And then there’s your marriage: the foundation of the vocation chosen by God. There’s no easy button for prioritizing the covenant you entered before God and your loved ones.
There’s no time, energy, or proverbial spoons left by the time the kids are passed out in their bedrooms.
You’re both exhausted, irritated, and touched out.
So no, working on your marriage isn’t easy. What is, though, is sliding downhill from monotony to apathy to resentment.
And suddenly, there you are at the bottom of the hill looking back up at where you came from, mourning the people you were before.
As dramatic as my commentary might be, I’m guessing you can identify with at least some of it. You probably know the malaise born of a treasured marriage left untended far too long. I’m also guessing your experience really isn’t that unusual.
You and your husband’s difficulties are not an anomaly.
You are not alone.
How do I know? Well, if you peeked beneath the highlight reel of every couple goals post on social media, you’d see that lots of other marriages -- good, solid, Catholic ones -- are missing the same things as you.
Take my marriage, for instance, which after 17 years was pretty much dead on arrival.
Well, at least for a while, it was (you can read more about the story here).
Dan and I have three children. They are twice-exceptional: super smart and super intense. We have one on the spectrum, one with GAD and OCD, and one with anxiety and sensory concerns. Parenting them is a joy and a blessing.
It did, however, do a number on our marriage vows.
Our social media presence looked great, but underneath those practiced smiles lurked a carefully guarded bastion of resentment, loneliness, and anger.
Every bit of love and energy went straight to our children. It left us little more than disgruntled coworkers, slaving away at a job we didn’t love.
Thankfully, it’s not like that anymore.
It doesn’t have to be that way for you, either.
Here are five ways to refresh your marriage in a weekend and restore order to the promise of your love.
5 Simple Ways to Refresh Your Marriage in a Weekend
Stop the self-limiting beliefs.
Self-limiting beliefs are the lies you cling to when your heart wants to try something new. They’re like desolations, really: the Ignatian concept of Wormwoodian whispers that pull you from the love of God. In this case, self-limiting beliefs keep you from moving forward. They make you believe that your circumstances are set. They want you to believe their truth, that there’s nothing you can do about any of it.
The more you repeat these ideas to yourself, the more they become a habit. The greater the habit, the stronger the negative thrall.
How do you know if you’ve fallen prey to self-limiting beliefs? Listen carefully for statements like:
I should make more time for my husband. I’m just not a very good wife or mom.
We can’t make time for one another, ever. There’s no time to devote to one another, and sitters are so hard to find.
I need to prioritize my marriage; there’s just no way to do that right now.
Any statement that downplays your ability to affect change with the talents and gifts God has given you?
That’s a self-limiting belief.
Be free with praise and gratitude.
Maybe you breathe a sigh of relief every time he loads the dishwasher before work.
Maybe you love the way he engages the kids before bedtime, reveling in that lovely daddy vibe.
Or, maybe you appreciate his quiet determination to care for the family as best as he can.
When was the last time you told him this, either in person or via text or email?
When was the last time he told you about what he loves?
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Make a list -- both of you -- and let each other know why you love one another and what you’re grateful for.
Understand the complementarity between men and women.
Men and women are fundamentally different. Your husband is hardwired to provide for and protect his family the way St. Joseph cared for Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. As a woman, your feminine genius means you are hardwired to nurture. You are the model of Mary, the receptive center of your home.
Why do I bring this up as a factor in prioritizing your marriage? Because if your husband feels that he’s falling short in the provide and protect arena, it’s going to make his resentment grow. On the other hand, if you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of nurturing small people and a grown husband without any sort of rest when you are weary, you are going to start harboring negative attitudes of your own.
Communication is key here, and we’ll talk about that in-depth in just a bit. But it helps to understand that you need each other to complete the human aspect of your union. Part of his role is to provide for and protect you when you are tired, just as he needs you to let him know he’s doing a good job.
Speak in plain language. He can’t read your mind.
I know you know this. To be honest, I know this, too. But I still find myself expecting my husband to know what I need or understand what’s bothering me through telepathy. Why can’t he just interpret my nonverbal cues?
Because men don’t communicate that way. They say what they mean when they mean it. Women, on the other hand, rely more heavily on nuance.
The other day, for example, I got frustrated with my husband.
Why? Because he didn’t carry the laundry basket up the stairs for me when I dropped it dramatically and grumbled, “Man. This is super heavy, hon.”
To be fair, we’ve been married almost two decades and truthfully, some days he does pick up on my nonverbal cues for help. But he’s been working from home and he was focused on putting something important down in the office.
If I wanted him to help me, I needed to say it. Out loud.
This doesn’t just go for household chores, my friend. This goes for what you need emotionally, spiritually, and physically, too. Your husband will be better able to fulfill your needs across the board when he gets them in plain language. In turn, be sure to ask him how you can help him, as well.
Pray together -- whenever you can.
In the morning when the alarm goes off. With the family before dinner time and bed (otherwise you’ll fall asleep). Before and after physical intimacy (yes, I really did suggest that).
Basically, make time for even the smallest amount of prayer (you’ve got to start somewhere).
Prioritizing your marriage isn’t easy. It’s not a cakewalk; not a walk in the park. But it’s worth it -- oh, so worth it.
I think you’ll be glad you did.
(If you’d like a little help in the marriage refreshing department, check out my handy, step-by-step workbook here).
Copyright 2020 Ginny Kochis
Image: Pixabay (2017)