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Denise Jelinek shares three ways couples can help their marriage thrive.

My husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this year! 20 years?! Two decades! It’s incredible to me. On one hand, it seems like such an accomplishment, given the amount of intention and effort we put into our marriage, but ‌another part of me wonders how we got here. How did the last 20 years seem to effortlessly slip by? 
As a pondering-loving introvert, I take joy in reflecting on our marriage. I look back on not only the sweet and sour moments, but also on all the ways we’ve grown individually and together. What follows are some insights God has revealed to me about what helps us thrive.  
I hope this gives you a new way to look at your marriage. 

Create an “Our Box” 

When we were dating, my husband had his interests (his box) and I had mine (my box). Some of those interests intersected and some didn’t. To get to know and impress one another, we sometimes did each other’s favorite activities, even if it wasn’t how we would’ve chosen how to spend that time on our own.  For example, I would attend sporting events and he would play card games with me. 

As our marriage evolved and kids came, it seemed like the intersection of our interests decreased. Initially, this seemed like a problem that could lead to the popular culture idea of “growing apart” as a couple.  
Instead, we started looking for new things to do together. For us, it started with seeing live theater, something I had enjoyed growing up. My husband didn’t have those same experiences in his childhood, but was open to giving it a chance.  

During a weekend getaway in Austin, Texas, he asked a restaurant waiter what we “must do” before we left town. The waiter loved theater and had recently volunteered as an usher for a 90-minute, one-man play with over 32 characters called “Fully Committed.” 

The actor was AMAZING! I had never experienced the range of emotions from live theater as I did that night. We were hooked!   

Theater became the first thing in “Our Box.”  

Since then, we’ve added bike riding, walks in the woods, guided tours (of a city, a historical site, etc.), and traveling. We still have “his box” and “my box,” but it’s fun to be creative and add to “Our Box.”  



Not liking each other is not a reason to divorce

I’m sure that sounds obvious, but honestly, I was so immature when I got married that I would’ve thought “growing apart” was a valid reason for getting divorced.  
Although we attended Pre-Cana, I had no understanding of a sacramental marriage on our wedding day. Thankfully, my parents’ commitment to their marriage had a profound influence on me.   
I wish someone would’ve told me when I was first married that there would be moments (or several moments…strung together sometimes) when I wouldn’t “like” my husband and that we would still be OK. So, I want to pass that on to the younger generation. 

The only thing standing in the way of me being the wife God wants me to be

Communication is key: communication with God (knowing what He wants), with myself (knowing my own thoughts and being self-aware), and with my husband (so we can know each other better).  
I prioritize my relationship with Him, myself, and my husband. God has to be my guide, and my job is to humble myself to see what’s blocking me from doing His will. 

Click to tweet:
I love being married, but it’s undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, even harder than parenting. #CatholicMom


It’s fun to look back and see how my husband and I have evolved. What’s even more exciting and humbling, though, is what the Lord has taught me about myself and the work He still has for me on my sainthood journey!  
I love being married, but it’s undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, even harder than parenting. (Did I just find the next topic for my next article?)  
I would love to hear your thoughts.  



Copyright 2023 Denise Jelinek
Images: Canva