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Invest time and energy in your marriage

Later this year, my brother and sister-in-law will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years and two children later, they seem to be doing well as a married couple and as a family. Certainly they have had their share of stresses, just like any couple. My mother’s death in March, changes in their jobs and in areas of responsibility, health challenges along the way, and the joys of raising two young children have been a part of their lives. I also see my brother and sister-in-law regularly doing something that has helped them through the first 10 years of marriage: they are very deliberate about making time to tend to their relationship as husband and wife.

Every few months, the kids go with their grandparents for a weekend and my brother and sister-in-law will have a weekend just for themselves. They take the time to get away and just spend time with one another. They may go to a bed and breakfast or they may go to a cottage owned by extended family. The point is that they take time away from the hustle and bustle of their very busy lives in order to spend time with one another and grow in relationship. This is a pattern they developed very early in their married life, maintaining it through the first 10 years, and I am certain that it will remain a pattern for the rest of their lives.

The fact that my brother and sister-in-law do this reflects, I hope, an attitude on their part that their marriage is a dynamic and growing reality. They continue to discover new aspects of one another each day and continue to grow in love with one another. In a sense, they are continuing a pattern that began before they were married, while they were still in marriage preparation and very much in the courtship phase of their relationship. This pattern of mutual encouragement, growth and discovery is one they have sought to maintain, even in the face of the demands of everyday life.

There are two other important aspects to what I see my brother and sister-in-law doing. By devoting time and energy to their relationship, they are showing their daughter and son, my niece and nephew, just how much work a married relationship requires. Mommy and daddy love one another, but they have to work at this, to continue to grow in that love, and it takes time and energy. The other important aspect is that my brother and sister-in-law are revealing just how much work is required in any relationship, including that of marriage. They teach me how to live my call to celibacy in priesthood by reminding me that I, too, must invest time and energy in the relationships that bring me life – my relationship with God, family, friends, fellow priests and with parishioners.

As we begin the Year of Mercy 2016, I encourage all married couples to make the time and to invest the energy in their marriages. The stresses and strains on marriage are greater now than they have ever been. An experience like a Marriage Encounter weekend might be helpful. Couples can learn more about Marriage Encounter and its desire to “make good marriages even better” at www.wwme.org. Couples who are experiencing difficulty in their marriage should not give up hope. A program like Retrouvaille might be just the opportunity to find the help they need. You can learn more by visiting www.retrouvaille.org.

These are but two of a number of resources that are available to assist couples in growing or healing their marriage. Perhaps a first step could be to reach out to the pastor or pastoral minister at your parish. We pledge to do what we can to walk with each couple, engaged or married, so that they can have a relationship that is happy, healthy and holy. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.