Pray together, make time for one another, keep romance alive

| Dennis and Mary Helen O’Hare For The Catholic Spirit | May 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

On June 27, we will have been married for 30 years. So, what have we learned that may be of some use?

Marriage is a covenant. That means forever. We are called to demonstrate God’s unconditional love to this one person for the rest of his or her life.

Care. We all have attachment needs that we don’t grow out of. Knowing someone is truly there for us is so important. If that is not you as the beloved of your spouse, then whose role is it?

Ultimately, it is the daily little things that make such a difference.

Persevere. It is one thing to be loving during the honeymoon; it is a different ballgame to do this over decades. We push through and continue to work on the relationship as the journey changes.

Turn to each other. And that means every day, in both good and difficult times. When you’re happy or angry, talk about it, preferably before day’s end.

To keep your relationship fresh and growing, find common activities and have fun together.

Say: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” As spouses, we are two unique individuals with sometimes very different viewpoints. We each bring “stuff” into our marriages: scars, unhelpful patterns of coping, weaknesses, unresolved issues.

It’s important to listen to and care about the thoughts and needs of the other, even when we don’t agree. Being first to apologize and own our actions is key.

Don’t be afraid to get some individual or joint counseling if some barriers just keep getting in the way.

Pray. Beginning and ending the day with prayer is so important, especially as life accelerates with careers, kids and other responsibilities.

Romance. Dating should not end with the honeymoon.

Remember the acronym SPICE: Spiritual. Physical. Intellectual. Creative. Emotional. This should describe your balanced romantic life.

We also make room for a formal, planned “date” every couple of weeks, which is even more important if and when kids come along. They will survive without you for a few hours, and you’ll be better spouses and parents for it.

Bless and protect. Make sure that you say thank you a lot.

Every week or two we get together to discuss the “business” of our lives, including calendar, planning  and problem-solving. But we always begin with a time of blessing, where we name three things to honor each other for from the past couple of weeks.

Protection is also key. We protect our hearts from unhelpful attachments. We protect our priorities from the “tyranny of the urgent.” We protect our time to nurture our covenant relationally.

Build relationships, community. Ours is not a supportive culture for a covenant marriage. Find friends and couples who have similar values to grow with.

Dennis and Mary Helen O’Hare have been married for 30 years and have five children and one grandchild. They are parishioners at St. Joseph in West St. Paul. Dennis serves on the archdiocesan Commission on Biomedical Ethics.

Did you know?More than $405,000 from the 2010 Catholic Services Appeal went to support marriage preparation and other programs and services offered by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life.

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Category: Marriage