Success in modern marriage

| Kate Soucheray | February 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Modern marriage date night

iStock/kieferpix

Success in modern marriage is no small feat. Experts say that a long-term marriage is any length of time over 20 or 25 years. In addition, these experts explain that the percentage of marriages that will last the lifetime of the individuals involved — so that they will find themselves with the same person in old age as the same one they married when they were young — has diminished significantly. So, even though we are living longer, we are not necessarily remaining committed to, and with, the same partner throughout our lives. It seems the question for Catholic couples is: How do we beat these odds?

This year, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day. What if, as a Catholic couple, you and your spouse dedicated yourselves throughout the season of Lent to the health and strength of your marriage? So, instead of giving something up during Lent, you would give to each other by fortifying your commitment to each other. There are so many ways to do that, but let me name just a few.

First of all, begin with forgiveness. Letting go of damaging memories and past hurts requires us to talk about these incidents and work through the pain they caused. In doing so, we will likely realize we have hurt our spouse, perhaps even unknowingly, and they are now willing to forgive us, too. Second, do all you can to increase a sense of trust in your marriage, for intimacy is based on trust, and without this aspect of marriage, there can be no real sense of closeness and authentic affection. There may be physical intimacy, but without forgiveness and trust, the emotional intimacy will likely be lacking. Third, we must invest in our marriages every day. By keeping it fresh and alive through the “yes” we say to each other, through living out the promise we made on the day we were married, we will continue to care for our spouse from a deeply loving heart.

Action challengeUse the season of Lent to make a daily investment in your marriage. Do something special with your spouse on Valentine’s Day and then continue to show your appreciation and love throughout the 40 days of Lent. At Easter, the commitment you have made to each other will likely provide a renewal that is miraculous as well.

There are also things to avoid in order to achieve a long-term, successful, modern marriage. First, if we say something unkind or sarcastic to our partner, renowned marriage expert John Gottman reminds us that we must follow up these negative comments with five positive, loving statements. Second, we must be careful when we’re on the internet or at work. If we have a baby at home or are in another stressful situation, finding someone who is attractive, interesting or gives us the attention we seek might be tempting. We must realize how much easier this has become in the age of technology, as we might think “no harm done.” But such thoughts and actions are like erosion on the side of a hill — eventually, the whole hill gives way. We must recognize if we are on this path and then step back. Third, putting personal interests ahead of our spouse, such as a hobby or a career, might convey to our spouse that this interest is more important to us than they are.

So, be aware of your part in the happiness and strength of your marriage and do all you can to reinforce and reinvigorate this union in small ways throughout the season of Lent as you convey your love and commitment to your spouse. Let them know they are first in your life through the loving ways you demonstrate how much you value them. Tending to this special relationship — one that is like none other in your life — must be done in the small ways that you nurture and cultivate your love for each other.

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Featured, Simple Holiness