Saturday, October 11, 2014

Living Happily Ever After

I recently wrote this article about marriage for our homeschool group newsletter.

“Living Happily Ever After”
     My husband Jon and I have the privilege of mentoring couples preparing for marriage in our parish. We meet with them in our home and discuss various aspects of marriage, sharing our experiences and helping them communicate effectively with one another on various topics. These couples are all so sweet. And in love. And confident in the strength and “specialness” of their relationship. And that’s great. Praise God for His Love for us and the great gift of Love and Marriage!

     Jon and I are twelve years into our “happily ever after.”  I don’t know if we’re “sweet” like the head-over-heels in love couples we mentor, but we are still in love. We are still confident in the strength and “specialness” of our relationship. There is a richness and depth of love that continues to grow as we live our lives together. As we walk together through the joys and challenges of raising a family, we come to know and love God and each other more deeply.

     That all sounds really lovely, doesn’t it? It’s all true. However, in real life that love and growth is messy and gritty and many times happens in the background and doesn’t get much attention or acknowledgement. Life is busy. We are not only raising children but also homeschooling them and running a business. The days are filled with work, activities, and chores. The needs of the children must be met every day. Sigh. So many nights we fall into bed and just check in with each other about the details of the next day before falling asleep. It’s so easy to take each other and our marriage for granted and to settle into the roles of co-captains of “Team (our last name)” while neglecting our roles of companions, confidants, friends, and lovers.  This is not the kind of relationship we anticipated when we were starry-eyed engaged people.

     It’s easy to put “important” tasks like house-cleaning and lesson-planning ahead of spending quality time with our husbands. But it’s not OK.  It’s important that we continually strive to keep our priorities in order so that we can focus on what --- and who --- really matters. Yes, all of the things we are doing for our children are good and worthy. But the most memorable and influential lessons we are teaching our children are not about academics and home economics. We are modeling and planting deeply-rooted life lessons by the ways we are in relationship, especially with our spouses.

     Our families are ultimately schools of love. By choosing each day to focus on and nurture our marriages we are showing our children that the Vocation of Marriage is special, good, joyful, and life-giving. We are teaching our children what love looks like and acts like.  Love is fun, affectionate, respectful, caring, compromising, serving, sacrificing, communicating, working together, forgiving, asking forgiveness….. It is not the casual romantic drama so glorified in the media. It is so much more messy and beautiful than that.

     And so when Jon and I meet with engaged couples we learn as much as we teach. We are reminded of how much we love each other. We are encouraged to focus more on each other and our marriage and to make it a priority to connect as a couple. The young engaged couples are so present and attentive to one another. At this point in their relationship they are able to spend great amounts of time communicating and just having fun together. Although our lives have gotten more complex, we still want and need to do those same things. Fortunately, we can tap into the Grace God poured over us in the Sacrament of Marriage. We can draw on His Love and Mercy as we continue to grow in our love and commitment to one another.

Remember, the grass is greener where you water it! What can you do today to nurture your relationship with your spouse?


1 comment:

  1. That's great that you and Jon mentor couples. I remember one exercise Adam and I had to do during pre-cana. Each could speak for a minute with no interruptions and then the other had a minute to respond. Oh, that was so hard for me (still is!). One recent Lent I also made it a focus to just be with Adam in the evenings. The kids were in bed and I would be with Adam in the living room, the office/computer room, or wherever. Knowing love languages is important. He's a physical guy -- needs to hold hands, touch his back, etc. -- and I can forget that. Love is action.