The other night I went to a homeschooling mom's night out. Once a month, this group of ladies come together for some fellowship and fun, with some kind of theme in mind. February's theme? Keeping the spark in your marriage while homeschooling (holding a job, amidst daily life, etc.). I was excited for this night because it just so happens that focusing on my husband and marriage is one of my Lenten projects this year.
So here is a random list of ideas for keeping that spark. Some items are what I do, and what I am focusing on. Some are other people's ideas. Sometimes all is hunky and dory in the world of marriage. Sometimes it isn't. I certainly am an utter failure at times in my marriage, but there are great moments too. The biggest thing is to keep on truckin', keep on trying. Hopefully these ideas spark a little fire on your side, whether it be a great big bonfire or a nice little cozy flame.
**My top picks at the moment.**
Pray for your husband. I would say pray together if you can. My husband is not even close to that. So I do it quietly, whenever I can and however much I can and feel I should. Really, he needs prayers all day long. So do I. We all do.
Make time for your husband every night by being available. Does he watch tv? Sit next to him. Computer? Be by him. Want you to chit chat (uh-huh...) - do it. Read? Grab a book. Walk? Get your shoes on. You get the idea. My husband is a couch potato in the evenings so I have made it a point of sitting down next to him and rub his back, head as I know he likes that. I also try really, really hard not to think about all I should be doing. Oh, and I am watching A LOT of Star Trek which I have never seen before. My husband recently decided he needed to watch every single episode and movie that has ever been made.
No negativity. Do not speak to your husband or about your husband in a negative way. I try to be very conscious of this as his parents are quite negative to each other, and my husband absolutely hates it. Though I must admit, on really tough days, this is incredibly hard to do because just as your children love you so much and rant and rave with you, so sometimes I just need to get it all out. ;) By focusing on it, though, I do find it easier to stop myself and even turn it into a humorous situation if at all possible.
Reminding myself of what marriage is. Why did I get married? What does the Church say about marriage? What does it mean to live a Christian marriage? Find resources that help you with that. For me, right now, this is what I am looking at:
Casti Connubii: Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI on Christian Marriage - despite longish sounding title, it's been a nice read. I like that is in a numbered format so I can read a chunk here and there and meditate on it while I go about my day.
Love Letters to My Husband by Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla - I just started this so I cannot say too much about it.
30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge - this is a little redundant day after day but it's a nice way to "wake up" and get going on staying positive for my husband.
Nice list of resources from the USCCB - I just found as a resource but have not read through all the resources listed.
The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest by Elisabeth Leseur.
Other ideas that I have thought about, used at times, or someone shared (at our night out or elsewhere):
- Realizing there are ups and downs in marriage - in life - and working extra hard during the downturns on MYSELF. I find I nitpick my husband to death when I am most dissatisfied with something about myself.
- Being polite. Saying please and thank you. Using his name or an endearment. Does anyone else find themselves not using their husband's name at times, and one day come to that realization? Or using it in a loud kind of way versus a sweet way?
- Do small things for him. What does he like? What can I do for him? What can I sacrifice to make his life better? You'll find that by making these sacrifices, he will in turn reciprocate. Maybe not the next day or even a month but your efforts will not go wasted. At the very least YOU will have changed - and for the better.
- Keep myself healthy. Exercise. Eat right. This goes along with working on myself. Let's face it. If I take care of myself, I have more time (weird, right?), more energy, more peace, etc. for my husband.
- A wife must step in as head of family if husband is unable or unwilling. So don't let this situation allow bitterness to fester.
- Make it a point to say something nice at least once a day.
- Greet him with a smile and/or quick kiss.
- Give him time after work to decompress. Or whatever he needs to do. Maybe he likes you in his face after a long day. I don't know.
- Keep a visible calendar of events and a list of what needs doing (just don't make it impossibly long). **My husband asked for this and still refuses to use the list so also practice patience when changing up routine.**
- Laugh - a lot and often.
- Let him know what you need. My husband is not a mind reader. Perhaps you are stressing about something that does not need stressing. Is there something you can relax about to make time for your husband? And turn it around, ask him what he needs.
- Remind yourself of what marriage is and why we were married (see resources above).
- Have special moments - from big, ole overnight stays to going out date nights to stay-in date nights to those itty bitty moments throughout the day. Send along a text, an email, give a kiss, a back rub, make sure his clothes are hung up and put away (I really am good about cleaning clothes, just not so much putting them away...), cook his favorite dinner, etc. I personally think all the little stuff adds up to more than one big night together. If I kept waiting for that "big night" our marriage would have fallen through the cracks long, long ago.
That's my own little list. I am still a newbie at marriage with not quite ten years of marriage under my belt. So I ask you, do you have anything to add?