AnneMarie Miller discusses simple ways to make your marriage a priority and grow deeper in your relationship with God and each other.
From exercise and diet, to travel and hobbies, many New Year’s resolutions reflect how people want to become healthier, live life to the fullest, or dive into their personal passions. Many of these ideals are worthwhile, but as we begin 2021, I wonder if we could focus on another area: our marriages.
While much intentionality, discernment, and planning leads up to a wedding, it is easy for couples to slip into a rut of complacency after saying “I do.” They can find themselves so immersed in their own work, concerns, personal pursuits or parenting that their marriage takes a backseat.
Considering the nature of marriage, this trend -- while common -- is alarming. Christian marriage, as the Catechism notes, is an “efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church” (CCC #1617). Marriage is an important, beautiful vocation, and while there are plenty of areas that demand our attention (some of which are toddler-sized), it’s important that we make this sacrament a priority. Not only is it possible to invest in our marriages (even when kids are in the house), but it’s vital. In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis notes:
In joining their lives, the spouses assume an active and creative role in a lifelong project. Their gaze now has to be directed to the future that, with the help of God’s grace, they are daily called to build. (#218)
As we look to the future with our spouses, let’s ponder how we can grow together. Here are some ideas that go beyond the typical date night:
Pray as a couple every day.
Praying out loud with your spouse can initially be awkward. However, regularly practicing this can be incredibly intimate and unitive. Even just a few minutes of prayer, without the kids around, can be extremely powerful.
Have a regular “couple dialogue” together (with God).
Instead of letting “big conversations” only happen during stressful times, putting a “couple dialogue” on the calendar each month is a fantastic way to regularly pray, connect, and talk together. This “couple dialogue” should be bathed in prayer. Not only can couples prayerfully think about what they will discuss ahead of time, but this dialogue should begin and end in prayer as well. This practice is a great way to continually discuss how God is working in one’s marriage and family.
Join a ministry specifically for married couples.
As wonderful as women’s and men’s ministries are, it’s very easy for couples to split all their time between individual groups and not work on their marriage. Getting involved in a marriage ministry can have tremendous benefits as it draws couples closer to God together.. Whether you become involved with a movement like Domestic Church, join an existing marriage ministry in your community, or begin your own, carving out time to pray, work, and grow together is well worth the time and effort.
Seek therapy individually or as a couple.
Even if a couple has a thriving marriage, one or both of the spouses may still be carrying deep, harmful wounds from the past. It can be beneficial for people in this situation to seek professional help, so that they can come to their marriage from a place of healing. Seeking therapy does not signal failure, but is rather a sign of strength as people strive to heal and grow.
There are countless ways to nurture our marriages, so let’s brainstorm! What other simple practices can we try this year?
Copyright 2021 AnneMarie Miller
Image: Pixabay (2018)
About the Author
Eagerly seeking new adventures each day, AnneMarie enjoys life in Oklahoma with her husband and little boy. She has a passion for the Faith and particularly loves learning more about the Liturgy, saints, and various devotions. AnneMarie’s musings on Catholicism, literature, and motherhood can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.