Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and woman and there are many duties to this ancient vocation. The two become one flesh intimately with the openness of bearing children. They leave their former lives to form one union, sharing a new life together. Most importantly, they do this all before God, seeking His blessing as a unit in order to make their marriage more holy.
While the divorce rate has actually dropped in recent years, it’s still over 40%. As Catholics, we see the decline in the family and the lack of honor for the sacred union. We can see that society as a whole isn’t putting a priority on marriage and family. So what can we do in our own lives to help raise our children with a solid example of a marriage after God’s own heart?
First, we must come before God and do so regularly. Praying both as a family and as a couple is vital to the health of any marriage spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and (yes) even physically. When we seek God’s wisdom, love, grace, and mercy, we seek to share this among one another. That love permeates our family and we can’t help but desire more. So pray as a family, pray with your kids before meals and bed, and pray especially as a couple alone, because putting a firm foundation on the inside will steady the structure for any storm life throws your way.
Second, be open. Be open to God’s will and talk about it. Also be open to each other. Seems odd to some but someone needs to just blurt it out if it hasn’t been said before. “What does God want us to do about… X?” Talk about it, pray about it, and be open to both God and each other. My husband and I have some sensitive topics and sometimes we trigger each other. Don’t pursue if you hit one; apologize, back off, and come back gently later. I hated when he mentioned my job loss and lack of income. Eventually, I was able to tell him how it made me feel. (Not providing for one’s family isn’t just hurtful to men!) He tread more gently after that, reassuring me or completely avoiding saying certain things. Likewise with some of his triggers. Talk about your emotions. It’s vital to hear each other. Also, talk about God with one another. He wants to be the center of your marriage and blesses those who honor Him this way.
Lastly, reconnect as a couple, alone. We love our family time. We play games, watch movies, joke around, but we were missing something. As much as we love our kids, we needed adult time, much to my teenager’s chagrin. It didn’t matter if we sat and talked business (family finance or work) or if we simply hung out eating a snack or playing a hand of cribbage. One night, we finally kicked the kids off to bed early and we stayed downstairs for a precious 30 minutes alone. Quite frankly, if we want an actual date, we need to schedule it on the calendar. He has a rotating schedule, kids have sports, and we have a little guy not yet in school full time.
Bottom line, married life is work and these days it’s more work than ever to stay connected. By putting God at the center of one’s marriage, a marriage can outlast all life’s troubles. Make time for God and make time for each other. Your kids will see this and seek it themselves, no matter their vocation in their own lives.