In Schoenstatt’s Movement, of which I’m a member, we talk about the four words that help us to have a happy marriage. In Portuguese, they all start with the letter R, so we call them the 4Rs, but in English, these words are: pray, re-enchant, review and renew. Let’s look at each one of them.
1st: PRAY – EVERY DAY
To pray is to speak to God, as we speak to a person who we love, with whom we like to share our life, everything that happened to us, good and bad. As a Father, God can always help and He expects that we ask this help through prayer. Everyone is invited to always be connected to God through prayer.
We need to be conscious that when we pray together, as a couple, as a family, Jesus is present among us and this presence of Christ is central to keeping harmony and the union in our home.
Through prayer, our children are educated and formed. This way, parents should turn prayer into something that is part of the everyday life of the family, and with prayer find the strength to fight against everything that happens to keep us away from prayer and from the life with God.
The first step is willingness to pray, in other words, deciding that family prayer is a good to be conquered and to put all our effort to make family prayer a reality.
Praying together is learned by praying together. We need to create the habit of common prayer and we create a habit through the repetition of acts. In the beginning, it can be hard, we get uncomfortable, but if we stay faithful to the purpose of praying together, soon the habit will be created and it won´t be so hard to get together and talk to God.
We suggest that you choose a determined time to pray together and also that this prayer happens in a special place of your home, with a cross or the image of Our Lady. You can also establish a small rite of how the prayer should go. Each couple should find their own style. We should ask the Holy Spirit the grace of managing to establish this habit in our family.
2nd: RE-ENCHANT – EVERY WEEK
To enchant means to amaze, to please extremely, to captivate, to provoke an irresistible admiration, to cause satisfaction. When we are in love, we become enchanted by each other; we create a bond of love that after we get married is sanctified by the sacrament of matrimony and blessed by God.
Routine, many times, overshadows this enchantment and what we see is that, because of lack of care from the spouses, the enchantment goes away and the home gets destroyed. They let that the small deceptions with the other blow out of proportion and they start seeing only the negative side of the other, forgetting everything good that they saw in that person when they felt in love.
What happens is that the spouses become accommodated. They stop worrying about pleasing the other, in winning him or her each day. Do you remember when you were dating? How many things you did to call the attention of the other, to connect him or her to your heart?
So we need to re-enchant our love. We cannot let a week go by without working, in some way, to show extra care to our spouse. It is necessary to create a moment so that can happen. Once a week, we should schedule a “date” with our spouse, with a specific day and time. In this date we will look at everything that happened in the past week, specially the joy, the good moments we spent together and this way, relight the flame of first love.
Each one knows what the other likes: a walk in the park, a special dinner, or simply sit together side by side admiring nature. You don’t need to go out; you can have a special moment in the living room or in the bedroom, after the kids go to bed. The important thing is to stay together, for a while, concerned only about to re-enchant the other.
To re-enchant is to gift the other with that smile, that look, those words, those moments so beautiful and important for those who wish to spend the rest of their lives together.
3rd: REVIEW – EVERY MONTH
To review is to look again, to verify condition, make sure everything is in order, see if there is something missing,and ultimately to thoroughly analyze a situation. The review of the relationship have to be periodic, preferably monthly. In the review, the couple will analyze how their prayer life is, if they are doing something concrete to re-enchant their love, verify if they are following the plans they made for their family, if this plan needs an adjustment, a change.
The review is also a time to savor all the fruits from all their efforts, all the tears, all the fears that passed during that month. They should ask each other what each one can do to contribute more to the happiness of the family.
In the review we find treasures, pearls, that sometimes are hidden and need to be recognized to rediscover the value in the other. In our busy days, we let many things go by that need to be elaborated and digested for the maturation of our love.
This way, once a month we should set a time, maybe a morning or an afternoon, to review together the events that marked our lives and the lives of our children. It is very important to contemplate each event so we won’t face, one day, poorly resolved situations that may block the passage of joy in our life and in the life of our family.
This should be done always in the light of the practical faith in the Divine Providence, always asking what God wants to tell us, to show us with those events. And how we should answer that call from God, what He expects from each one of us, from our family. We should always leave in God’s hands the small and the big decisions of our daily life, in the certainty that He is our Father, He is good and good is everything that He does.
4th: RENEW – EVERY YEAR
To renew means to make new, to give new appearance, refresh, reaffirm. In our relationship, many times we feel the tiredness of our walk, from very hard days, weeks and even months. So, we need to stop, to look for an oasis to regain our strength, to play, have fun and even, when it is possible, to know new places. It is time to renew, to go on vacation.
The vacations is a privileged time to spend time with your family, to deepen the knowledge of each other, specially of the children, to spend the whole day together, stepping out of the routine.
We need to use those moments of vacation to get closer to our spouse, our children, because during the year, many times the excess of work harmed the intimacy and the family relationship.
For the children, this more intense time they spend with their parents can be pleasant moments that they will keep in their hearts for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be a fancy ride or a very expensive activity, you just have to use your imagination and create fun things to do with the children, such as riding a bike, exploring the garden, going to the park, making toys with recyclable items; all of these can be great activities for children.
Vacation should also be a time for God. You can use this time of rest to maybe go to some spiritual retreat, or a meeting for couples of your Parish and ask God, through prayer, if you are fulfilling His will, if your family is in the path He drew for your happiness.
To renew is also a process that begins from within and you need to be ready to make there some repairs too, to solve small issues that may cause great damage to our relationships, taking advantage of the vacation from routine. It is also a process that will give birth to new and improved projects, where hope, joy and love are the key words.