Marriage is a commitment and not a social status that should be changed when one feels like it. It’s not something you do because your BFF married her live-in boyfriend of 5 years and now you want to have a cool party, too. Marriage is a sacred bond that brings a man and a woman in total union with God. One needs to be purposeful in maintaining a happy and loving marriage and be ready to fight for it when it goes under attack. I’ve outlined some things to look out for that are small at first glance, but that can turn into something bigger if not addressed immediately.
You aren’t talking as often
You may notice that you and your spouse seem distant from each other and conversations are becoming superficial and short. Maybe you spend more time on your phone or tablet than you do talking with your spouse. The two of you will only drift farther apart if someone doesn’t reach out and take hold of the other. Sit down with your spouse and talk. Ask questions about work, the kids, vacation or whatever. Or just come right out and say you feel like there is a distance between the two of you. This may be a chance for your spouse to get something off their chest they have been holding onto. Get it out in the open and deal with it. Ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist is only poison for the marriage.
Pro Tip: Schedule a weekly date night where it’s just the two of you spending quiet, uninterrupted time together. Leave the cell phones in the purse or pocket!
You aren’t praying together as often
When was the last time you and your spouse prayed together? Is grace before meals the extent of your prayer life outside of Mass? Prayer is so powerful yet I know so many married couples who don’t take advantage of it! There is never an excuse good enough to explain why you and your spouse don’t take time every day to say some prayers together. My wife and I say prayers with our boys before putting them to bed, and when it’s our bedtime we say prayers together before turning the lights out. I will admit that we do slack on saying the Rosary together daily and it’s something we are working on. The Rosary is the best weapon in your arsenal against the forces trying to break up your marriage yet so many couples are not using it. Will you join my wife and me in making it a habit to pray the Rosary daily? “The family that prays together stays together.”—Fr. Patrick Peyton
Pro Tip: Make prayer time a part of your nightly routine: shower, pajamas, brush teeth, prayer time.
You aren’t as intimate as you once were
When I say intimate, you all know what I mean, right? When the flame hasn’t been lit in a while and you’re not sure why, this may be an indicator that your marriage is in disrepair. In a healthy marriage the couple shouldn’t have a problem being intimate or feeling intimate towards one another. There could be a number of reasons why the two of you haven’t been close so talk about it. I don’t know the magic number for how often you should be intimate, but the two of you know when something’s off. Find out what is putting a damper on things and work together to bring the passion back.
Pro Tip: Read or listen to Christopher West’s take on The Theology of the Body. He’s the boss at discussing the “marital embrace” and how to love and respect your body.
Arguments are frequent
Are you and your spouse arguing a lot, even over silly little things? Are small things or quirks becoming an annoyance? Arguments are normal but they shouldn’t be happening fairly often. What’s the real reason behind all the bickering? This probably won’t be an easy fix so be patient and listen more. A husband and wife are a team and should be able to work through anything. Communicate your feelings calmly and remember that your spouse is not the enemy. No matter how long it takes and how exhausting it is, don’t give up on one another.
Pro Tip: Don’t assume that you are in the right and that your argument is valid. Be open and listen to your spouse’s side of the story without ridicule. Still having trouble? Find a family and marriage counselor who puts God at the foundation of their practice.
Both of you are stressed and worn out
Balancing a career and home life can be very taxing on a marriage. If everything seems like a chore and you and your spouse aren’t enjoying life together it’s probably time for a reboot. Take a breath and talk about what’s stressing you out. Be a sounding board for your spouse. Maybe the household responsibilities need to be reassigned for a change, or maybe it’s time for a family vacation. Once you feel things getting out of control hit the brakes before it does some real damage.
Pro Tip: Plan and follow through on family outings/vacations. They don’t have to be week-long excursions to a beach resort. Plan a weekend camping trip or even a fun day trip to the beach. Do something that is fun and relaxing and has you returning home rejuvenated.
Relationship with kids is strained
Raising children is no small feat by any means. It’s definitely a challenge but a most rewarding one at that. I’ve talked to many parents who are guilty of going on auto-pilot when it comes to raising the kids. I’m totally guilty of this. When times are tough you do what you can to get through the day, and when you add a troubled marriage on top of that you do what you can to maintain sanity. Your kids should never feel the brunt of your bad day or from trouble in your marriage. Children need a stable home environment where they feel loved and secure. Spend time with your kids and pray with them. You may not be all smiles and giggles but being there for your kids means the world.
Pro Tip: Sit down to dinner with your kids and talk about their day. On school nights, spend time together with all electronics off and hang out. I find that reading with my kids before bed is a great way to end the night.
Talking poorly about one another
I said before that married couples are a team. You build one another up and cheer one another on, even outside of the other’s presence. You should never talk poorly about or to your spouse. That’s just plain wrong. I’ve witnessed people talk poorly about their spouses, often with their children present. Come on! Have some class! How would you feel if you found out your spouse was talking poorly about you to someone else? Wouldn’t you be hurt? If you’re guilty of this put a stop to it NOW. Don’t do further damage to your marriage by shedding a bad light on your spouse. You’re just making yourself look bad at the same time and letting the world know that there is something very wrong with your marriage. If you have something to say about your spouse, say it to their face.
Pro Tip: If you need to vent and you absolutely can’t talk to your spouse about it, write down your frustrations on a piece of paper and then crumple it up. Throw the piece of paper away and move on. Many people find this therapeutic.
I firmly believe that Satan despises a holy, healthy, and intact family because it is the Holy Family that binds us all together. It is a sign of whatThis is why he does what he can to break marriages. I see far too many marriages and families broken by divorce. Now, some marriages need to end because of abusive situations; that I understand and agree with. But what scares me is how couples are so quick now to throw in the towel when things get rough instead sticking it through to the end.