Why a Relationship With God is Essential to a Healthy Marriage
The first years of marriage can be wonderful and exciting, and at the same time turbulent and disorienting. You’ve probably heard a thousand times how important it is to keep God in the center of your marriage and here’s why.
Your Spouse is Not God
There isn’t much on earth as powerful as a man and a woman joining their lives together in Holy Matrimony. Why do a man and a woman choose to get married? They’ve found in each other a piece of the divine- love, joy, peace, harmony, and a shared mission or worldview. We are designed for human intimacy. Afterall, Adam walked in perfect friendship with God in the garden and yet it was “not good.” God desires for us companionship and community. God does NOT, however, want us to make idols of one another. We are imperfect creatures- and if you haven’t learned this already, you will by the end of your first year of marriage. If you place the weight of your deepest needs and desires on your spouse, you will crush him/her and be sorely disappointed. Ultimate fulfillment is only found in God.
Beware, however, not to disengage from your relationship with your spouse because of the fear or pain of disappointment. Always lean into the gaps with hope and do the hard work of building intimacy and being attuned to your spouse’s needs. There is often the temptation to avoid this labor of love and filling the void with distractions, even good ones like church activities (you know who you are!). Work on finding a balance of getting what you need from the Father (filling your tank) so that you can love one another best.
A Happy Marriage Starts With Happy Individuals
The importance of self-care and “me-time” has become a popular topic as of late. This can seemingly contradict the notion of “putting the other first,” or “sacrificial love,” but if we take a closer look, it serves no purpose to put the other first if all we have to offer is bitterness and resentment due to a lack of balance and poor boundaries. As a mother of little ones, I can attest to the downward spiral that can lead to (Irene Alexander’s Adored for Life podcast got me out of the rut of feeling guilty about doing things that bring me joy)!
That being said, we often forget that we are mind, body, and soul. In our good efforts to keep in shape or check off our reading list, we cannot neglect our need for communion with our Creator. Research shows that along with diet, exercise and meaningful relationships, happy people practice gratitude and meditation. As Catholics, we have a treasury of resources to help us on our journey to developing a healthy spiritual life (more on that in another blog post!). I love Mother Teresa’s simple formula:
“The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.”
Show up every day- even for just 10 minutes- and see how this changes you. If you find yourself in a particular funk in your prayer life, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas that require repentance and forgiveness and receive healing and strength in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A soul at peace produces harmony in the home.
One Final Piece
So we’ve established that our spouse is not God and that we need a personal relationship with God to be happy, but there’s a third component to all this: community. If you’ve been listening to The Bible in a Year Podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz or if you’ve been a good, bible-reading Catholic before it was “trending,” you know that the context of the whole of salvation history is God’s covenant with the people of Israel- His chosen family. We need a consistent prayer life to be healthy persons, but we also need to pray and worship as a family. It is especially important to develop a habit of praying together as a couple in your first year of marriage to keep you centered as you adjust to your new lives together. Whatever you choose as your prayer of choice- be it the Rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, etc., be sure to make space for spontaneous and intercessory prayer together. There’s something so sacred, so intimate about bringing to the Lord your spouse’s needs. You’re at once saying to your spouse, “I see you” and saying to God, “I know You see us.” Pray with and for each other.
And last, but certainly not least, participate regularly in the greatest prayer of them all- The Holy Mass. In the Holy Mass, we are transported to the intimacy of the upper room at the Last Supper, we witness the sacrificial love of Calvary, and rejoice in the glory of the Resurrection- all in the company of the angels, saints, and our parish family. Let that sink in. And if that isn’t wonderful enough, you get to receive the resurrected Jesus into your own body and soul to strengthen and sustain you on the journey.
Keep Christ in the center of your life, your marriage, your family, and everything else will find its proper place.