Note: For those of you who aren't married, hang in there with me - some of this info can apply to any relationship.
Living out the sacrament of marriage in a peaceful, prosperous time can be challenging.
Living out that same sacrament during a time of pandemic, social unrest and economic uncertainty? The level of difficulty gets ratcheted up a few notches.
So how is your marriage doing?
Has the stress of the past year impacted your relationship? Have you grown in intimacy & friendship during these past few months, or are tension and frustration the only things growing in your marriage?
In good times and bad, it’s helpful to remember the fundamentals of the sacrament.
The whole point of our faith and Christian life is to become a gift of self to others.
In marriage, we do this specifically by making a gift of ourself to our spouse. So when you make your vows, you're literally saying before God and man, "I promise until death do us part to lay down my life and die to myself for you...I live no longer for myself but for you."
Giving of ourselves usually HURTS though. It’s uncomfortable. It stretches us.
Last year, my wife and I were interviewed by a newlywed couple (via Facebook live because #covid) and they asked us for some advice on ways they could strengthen their relationship as they navigated through their first year of marriage during a pandemic.
Now, my wife and I have been married for a little over 8 years. (Compared to some of you reading this, we’re still practically newlyweds ourselves.)
However, add in 6 children (we just had a new baby girl 🎉), plus the countless hours of marriage therapy I've conducted over the years, and hopefully that equals enough experience to be in a position of giving some advice.
For the full Facebook interview, you can watch it HERE. But to sum it up for the readers, here are a few pieces of advice my wife and I shared during the interview:
- It's easy to want to escape from moments of tension between the two of you, but try to turn towards the tension. The only real path towards healing, happiness, joy and peace is confronting where the tension is and working to work it out.
- Evaluate how you're arguing. Are you remembering that at the end of the day, your call is to be a gift of self to this person?
- It’s very rare that both spouses are at their limits at the same time. Gauge who might be needing more during times of stress and tension and attempt to care for one another in those times.
- Have date night at home and reserve it as a time of fun. Do anything you can to bring yourselves together as a TEAM and nourish the friendship that you have (which is the reason you got married).
- Set aside time for prayer together.
I want to hear from you now: How have you kept your relationship healthy over this past year?