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Marriage matters: Three verbs to strengthen your marriage

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers for the Diocese of Sacramento.

Calamities can bring out the best and the worst in a marriage. Our routines can serve us well by keeping our lives predictable and peaceful, but they can also shield us from seeing and more fully embracing the whole of each other, warts and all. So try to view this disruption to our routines as an opportunity to grow in love.

For starters, keep in mind it’s only human to get on one another’s nerves whenever we’re forced to stay cooped up inside together. Now, as always, “be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph 4:2) But don’t stop there.

Trust that God is in the plan even when life’s wrecking balls come smashing in. “Do not be alarmed when disaster comes … As gold is tested in the fire, so are we in the furnace of humiliation.” (Ecc 2: 2-5)

Here are three verbs to help transform this calamity of forced intimacy into a purifying furnace:

Accept. I have unique needs and limitations, and so does my spouse. This means I should not expect my spouse to fully understand, let alone meet, all my needs. So, my spouse may need more time alone than I do, and I must respect and support that. Likewise, my spouse may need more socializing than I do, and I must respect and support that.

Adjust. Even if we have differing needs and limitations, we are still called to suffer well for one another. So if I think I need 14 hours a day of “me time,” could I maybe shoot for 13? If I’m on the other end of this spectrum, could I likewise adjust, maybe by connecting with friends at online meeting spaces?

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Pray. If you are sacramentally married, you have God at the heart of your marriage, waiting there to help you grow in sacrificial love for one another. If that sounds hollow and unreal, give this a try. During all these hours of forced togetherness, set aside just a few minutes each day to sit together before God. Light a candle, and say, “God, help us to better appreciate, support and be patient with each other.” Sit there quietly for five minutes afterward, and then blow out the candle.


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