The Mountain of Marriage
When we make our vows, we are entering into a covenant relationship with God in the institution of marriage. This relationship binds us with our spouse, by the power of God, in the purpose of becoming one. “We need to see marriage as a commitment in the Lord and by doing so, we can have the courage and grace to take up our crosses of incompatibility and work on learning how to truly love.”
I read this examination of conscience by the Catholic author, Chantal R. Howard, and I wanted to share it since there is much soul searching in these questions on how we treat our spouse on a daily basis. I believe that any marriage could be stronger if we took the time to ponder these questions and act on them. These questions are “based on ten practical components of love, or ten action elements, that help us to evaluate whether we are actually loving our spouse.”
1. Attentiveness~ Have I been attentive to my spouse’s emotional and physical needs this day?
2. Listening~ When my spouse shares his/her concerns, dreams or desires, do I truly listen or am I quick to interrupt, trying to usurp the conversation for my own benefit? Do I honor my spouse with the greatest respect, seeking to understand his/her world through what he/she shares?
3. Thanking~ Am I in the habit of thanking my spouse for his/her acts of kindness, service and love? Do I take my spouse for granted?
4. Praising~ Do I make it a priority of love to affirm my spouse? Do I think and speak well of my spouse? Do I accept my spouse for who he/she is, reinforcing his/her dignity with words of kindness and praise?
5. Encouraging~ Have I made efforts to encourage my spouse in his/her pursuits? Do I seek to motivate my spouse to take time for spiritual and physical disciplines and free time?
6. Comforting~ Am I quick to offer support and strength to my spouse? Do I reach out to my spouse, trying to ease his/her pain? Have I sought to cheer my spouse in times of tension and stressfulness?
7. Assisting~ Am I willing to set aside my own preferences and self-will so as to assist my spouse whenever he/she needs me? Have I made an effort today to anticipate the ways in which I can serve my spouse?
8. Sharing~ Do I share my heart with my spouse? Did I make an effort to be affectionate and close to my spouse this day? Do I open myself up physically, emotionally and spiritually so that my marriage relationship is always discovering greater depth?
9. Contributing~ Am I continually seeking to build up my relationship with Christ, deepening my understanding of my vocation so that I can contribute in new ways to the growth of my marriage?
10. Protecting~ Have I protected my marriage from the attacks of division, lust, selfishness and the allurements of other unhealthy distractions? Do I guard our union by seeking to keep my spouse as my first priority after God? Am I willing to always stand up for my spouse in public? Am I ready to lay my life down for the sake of my spouse?
G.K. Chesteron said “The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”
[In an email to me Noreen writes: “You may certainly use my post on marriage. It mostly came from Chantal Howard’s book, The School of the Family, which dedicated a chapter to marriage which I found to be thought provoking and inspiring! The questions came from the author, Charles E. Hansen’s book, The Technology of Love… They would be the ones to get the real credit, not me.” To which I say, “Yes, but you had the wisdom and creativity to put them together.” Noreen is part of the Community of Catholic Bloggers. A link is provided to both blogs for you to check out. Thanks for sharing this, Noreen.]