5 Signs You May Not Be Loving Your Spouse As Well As You Could Be

Some reminders I know that need from time to time:

1.    You’re focused on his/her faults more than your own.

couple on oceanIf you’re wrapped up in all the things your spouse is or isn’t doing for you that you wish he or she would do for you, then it’s time for a shift in focus. Rather than nitpicking your spouse’s faults, ask yourself, “What am I doing or not doing right now that I could be doing to love him/her better?” This approach is guaranteed to make both of you more content.

2.    You’re not praying daily for your spouse.

Praying for your spouse is one of the greatest gifts you can offer in your marriage. Strangely enough, many of us are sometimes better at praying with our spouse than we are at praying for him or her. Make sure you offer at least one heartfelt prayer to God for your spouse each day. Something as simple as, “Lord, I ask that you bless my spouse and help him/her to know your love more deeply today” is an important yet easy offering of love you can give your spouse every day.

3.    You haven’t done an unrequested act of service for him/her in recent history.

Maybe you’re pretty good at completing tasks or favors requested of you by your spouse, but it has been a while since you’ve spontaneously done something generous and unexpected for them. Think of something you can do to make your spouse’s life easier, and then do it—and, better yet, do it with joy.

4.    You aren’t paying him/her compliments regularly.

5 Signs You May Not Be loving Your Spouse as Well as You Could BeMark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Sometimes the simplest compliment or encouraging word from you can make your spouse’s day a thousand times better. But, as we know too well, life happens, and it can be too easy to forget to say intentionally kind things to our spouse every day. So here’s a reminder to affirm your spouse more, starting now.

5.    You’re not good at giving your spouse the “benefit of the doubt.”

Conflict in marriage often comes when we assume the worst about our spouse and his/her intentions in a given situation. To love your spouse better, make an intentional decision to give him/her the benefit of the doubt the next time an uncomfortable situation arises, assuming the best about them or what they have said or done. After all, when you married your spouse you were likely great at doing this; dial back to that sort of positivity you have about him or her.

*Know a friend who could benefit from this reminder, too? Please share!*

How to Make This Year More Meaningful for Your Family: 7 Ideas

This article is originally published at the IntegratedCatholicLife.org.

Perhaps you’ve made a number of resolutions already to make this year a personal best. tcht_series_medHere’s a list of some doable ways that you can experience more growth and fulfillment as a family this year.

1. Develop a mission for your family.

To avoid aimlessly wandering through another year, set aside time to come up with a central focus, a guiding mission or purpose for your family, that will help you live this year (and the years to come) more intentionally. There is a step-by-step how-to exercise in this book to help you come up with a mission unique to your family, or, in more free-form style, you can discuss your family’s gifts, spiritual goals, and desired relationship outcomes for the year and write them down in a brief, clear way, so that you can all refer to it and make decisions according to it throughout the year. (This idea is immensely helpful in keeping your family “on track” spiritually as the weeks and months go by. Examine your mission, strategies, or defined priorities regularly, and adjust your lifestyle and habits accordingly.

2. Hold family meetings.

Meetings seem to be way more common in the business world than in family life, but they can be extremely beneficial in helping your family have a more meaningful year, individually and as a unit. Here are some simple tips for how to hold a family meeting.  Regular family meetings, whether weekly or monthly, have so many tangible benefits, allowing you to resolutionsstrengthen your spiritual leadership, sharpen communication skills in your family, intentionally pray together, inculcate essential family values, and reduce stress.

3. Live the liturgical calendar.

Make an effort to celebrate feast days—at least solemnities, the highest ranking of feast days in the liturgical calendar—at home this year with your family. Here is a helpful feast day email reminder service, with occasional feast day email alerts, articles to learn a little about each feast, and simple ideas to celebrate the solemnity at home. Living the liturgical calendar at home will help your family feel more connected to the celebrations and life of the Church throughout the year.

4. Pick a patron saint and a spotlight virtue.

Select a saint to be a special intercessor for your family this year. This saint name generator can randomly select a saint for you, if you don’t already have one in mind. Include this saint regularly in your prayers and learn about the life of this special saint as a family this year. Additionally, consider picking a “spotlight virtue,” a virtue that you will focus on growing in as a family this year (examples include generosity, patience, charity, hope, etc.). Consider displaying your saint and your virtue in a prominent place so as to serve as a reminder to pray for the saint’s intercession and to practice the particular chosen virtue on a regular basis.

5. Rejuvenate your marriage.

holding-hands-1031665_960_720Make a commitment to liven up your marriage this year in some way. Consider setting aside time for a planned regular date night or a dedicated time interval every evening after the kids go to bed to chat and reconnect—even if only for 15 minutes—before you complete the remaining frenzy of tasks that the evening holds. The sky is the limit with this hack; think of some way you want to commit to marital improvement this year (maybe even by reading a marriage-building book together) and make it happen.

6. Refocus on keeping Sundays holy/peaceful.

Sundays are the key to personal and family peace. Check out these simple ways to “keep holy the Sabbath” and commit to at least a few of them in your home this year. It will really change the way you live and relate to one another and to God, not only on Sunday, but throughout the rest of the week as well.

7. Prioritize prayer and sacraments.

Start every day with prayer this year, even if it’s short. Pray as a family before you begin the hectic activities of the day (for example, an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be or The Morning Offering). Set aside at least 15 minutes a day for private, silent, reflective prayer; bring along your Bible to this prayer time for words on which to reflect! Consider having a short family prayer time after dinner, when everyone is already gathered together (a decade of the Rosary is usually a doable length of time, even for little ones). Finally, make sure to get to Mass every Sunday. Plan your whole week around it. Confession once a month will also have a drastically positive impact on your spiritual growth this year.

Looking for more Catholic family life tips and how-tos this year? Make sure to subscribe to get more articles like this sent to your inbox (and get a free resource guide, too)! For a more in-depth look at how you can make your Catholic family life more vibrant and meaningful, read this book, which unpacks these 7 ideas (and more), offering practical strategies for implementing spiritual leadership principles at home.

 

The Marriage Leadership Challenge, Week 4: Service

guy at deskBlessed Mother Teresa said, “The fruit of love is service.” Serving our spouse requires us to give something of ourselves, usually in some sort of physical, emotional, or spiritual way, anticipating and responding to our spouse’s needs. Hopefully, we go beyond meeting basic needs in our service and exceed our spouse’s expectations in our love for him or her, by serving our spouse as we would desire to serve Christ in our midst. Most of us – at least this is the case for me – find that this is more difficult than it sounds, especially when you’re feeling tired, overworked, or spend time an inordinate amount of time mentally conjuring up different ways you’d like your spouse to be serving you.

This week, serve your spouse by:

  • Completing a task that would help them without being asked. Updating the budget, doing a home improvement chore, running an errand of his/hers – it’s not too difficult to get creative with this one.
  • Being there for him/her when you’re needed. Put aside something you’re doing and give them your time, especially when you know they could use your emotional attention and physical presence.
  • Offering your spiritual support. My friends Annie and John-Paul talk about their prayer for one another being a “spiritual sign of love” for each other. Serve your spouse spiritually by praying for them this week: say a Rosary for your spouse, offer up Mass for him or her, or start a novena for his/her intentions.

One last tip: See your seemingly monotonous duties this week (your regular work schedule, chores around the home, etc.) as real opportunities to serve your spouse by fulfilling your irreplaceable role within your marriage and family. Doing those little things with great love demonstrates to your spouse that it is a joy to serve your marriage and family in any small way.

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to serve your spouse more intentionally each day this week!***

Don’t miss the next leadership challenge and other great tips for leading a more spiritual and meaningful life. Sign up here.

The Marriage Leadership Challenge: Joy

hugBlessed Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier. Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile. Joy shows from the eyes. It appears when we speak and walk. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. Joy is very infectious.” How often do you exude this kind of joy in your own home? Would your spouse say this is the state in which he/she encounters you on a daily basis? This week, let’s take a cue from this holy woman, who wedded herself to Christ, and imitate her great joy in our own marriages.

This week, express joy in your marriage by:

  • Showing affection. Joy is often beautifully expressed in simple physical gestures – holding hands, giving an unexpected big squeeze hug, leaving love notes in lunch boxes or on bathroom mirrors. Do more of that this week.
  • Sharing an activity or hobby together. What is something you both enjoy doing that you haven’t done together in a while? This week, plan a time to do an activity or a hobby you share – go for a bike ride, cook together, see a movie, explore a new place…
  • Laughing/having a sense of humor. Don’t take yourselves too seriously this week. Reminisce together about funny stories from your past. Watch a comedy sketch together (Jim Gaffigan is a Catholic and family-friendly option!). Don’t let stress play too big of a role in your relationship this week, and laugh at yourself when little things go awry.
  • Capitalizing on a few of your spouses “favorite things:” *Cue Julie Andrew’s voice in The Sound of Music*: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” What are a few of your spouses favorite things? Watch their favorite movie, buy their favorite ice cream, make their favorite dinner, buy them a book they’ve been wanting…do, purchase, or make a “favorite thing” of theirs happen this week.

One last tip: Celebrate together this week! It doesn’t have to be a major occasion; celebrate something small: a little victory at work, an at-home project completed, the fact that you made it through a difficult day. Celebrating together => joy.

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to express more joy in your marriage each day this week!***

If you aren’t signed up to receive these marriage leadership tips straight to your email inbox, you can sign up for free here.

The Marriage Leadership Challenge: Affirmation

holding handsHow often do you affirm your spouse verbally? Affirmation is one small gesture that goes a long way in improving marital satisfaction and making you a leader in having a strong marriage. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Sometimes the simplest compliment or encouraging word from my husband makes my day a thousand times better. I could always use a reminder to do more affirming, though. Life happens, and it can be too easy to forget to say intentionally kind things to my spouse multiple times per day. So here’s my reminder – and yours – to affirm our spouses more this week.

This week, affirm your spouse for:

  • Who they are (“You know what, honey? You are a very giving, self-sacrificial husband.” “Hey darling, I just wanted you to know that I think you are an incredibly patient mother to our children.)
  • What they do that you appreciate (“I noticed you finished the dishes for me earlier tonight. I can’t tell you how much that helped me.” “Thanks for encouraging me to have a night out with friends tonight; it was really fun.”)
  • Their strengths and positive habits (“I love how hardworking you are; your dedication to achievement at work is a great example to the kids and to me.” “I find your quickness to forgive really admirable, and it makes me want to grow in my ability to forgive more readily, too.”)
  • Their appearance (“You look handsome in that suit jacket!” “I love that pink sweater on you.”)
  • Their spirituality (“I love when you lead our family in prayer before bedtime.” “It inspires me to see you reading the Bible in your spare time.”)

One last tip: Speak well of your spouse to others – to your kids, your parents, your spouse’s parents, your friends, coworkers…whenever you have the chance to speak positively of your spouse to someone else this week, take it. Here are some reasons why speaking well of your spouse is so important.

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to affirm your spouse each day this week!***

If you aren’t getting these weekly challenges sent to your email inbox, you can sign up to have them sent to you each week here.