Writing for Aleteia, Chloe Langr reminds us that focusing on our relationships can be very much a part of our Lenten journey.
She cites St. John Chrysostom who once wrote, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
In other words, during the season of Lent, “our activities should enrich the lives of those we love the most,” Langr writes, which includes our marriage.
She offers five terrific suggestions for how to improve your marriage during this sacred season:
1. Share the highs and lows of the day the way you used to do when you first started dating and couldn’t talk enough. “It’s easy to get settled in to the daily routine of marriage and forget how we used to talk constantly to each other,” Langr writes, and suggests that we make an effort every day to share the highlights – and not so high lights – of our spouse’s day. “Sharing those moments of your day (and listening as your spouse shares theirs!) is a great way to communicate that you and your spouse are part of each other’s lives, even when you’re apart.”
2. Make your marriage come first when it comes to your schedule. “It’s easy to let our calendars fill up to the brim — between work, dropping off kids at school, catching up with friends, and making dinner, sometimes it feels like you barely have enough time to breathe, let alone dedicate quality time to your marriage.” We need to do better than to give our spouses “the leftover scraps” of our calendar. She suggests that we schedule time for our spouse first, then pencil in the food shopping, community events, etc. later.
Experts say one of the biggest contributors to marriage breakdown is not spending enough time together. “If you find yourself over-committed with school committees, church activities, or putting in overtime at work, it may be time to reassess your schedule together as a team,” Langr suggests.
3. Compliment your spouse more often! It sounds simple, but words can be a powerful source of encouragement for our loved ones. This is especially true for spouses. Langr suggests paying your spouse at least one sincere compliment every day.
4. Use the season of Lent to volunteer together for a good cause in the parish or community. It’s a powerful bonding experience from which you, your spouse, and the people or cause you’re serving will benefit.
5. Here’s another simple way to get closer to your spouse this Lent – pray together! Sign up at your local chapel for a holy hour together; read Scripture or pray the Rosary together after dinner. Make it a point to participate in the Paschal Triduum. If you’ve never prayed together before, this can be intimidating, Langr writes, because prayer is “an incredibly personal, vulnerable area of our lives.” She suggests starting out with a simple prayer such as this one:
“We thank you, O God, for the Love You have implanted in our hearts. May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feeling, and concerned for each other’s needs and wishes. Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings. Increase our faith and trust in You and may Your Prudence guide our life and love. Bless our Marriage O God, with Peace and Happiness, and make our love fruitful for Your glory and our Joy both here and in eternity.” — Traditional Catholic prayer, author unknown
You might consider joining Johnnette and Jack Williams for an online marriage retreat on February 12 from 9 AM to 4 PM ET entitled, "Falling in Love and Staying There." You and your spouse can spend the day praying, learning, laughing and loving together with presentations, activities and discussions. What a beautiful way to enjoy Valentine's Day weekend!
In addition to giving your own spiritual life a boost this Lent, share some of that renewed spirit with your loved one and give your marriage a boost as well!
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