Domestic Church: Affirming Life in Your Marriage

Happy National Respect Life Month! If there’s any assembly in the world ready to stand for life from conception to natural death, it’s Catholics. We share articles, pray before clinics and organize events for the noblest of causes. It’s an uphill battle going against societal norms, but one that must be taken on by courageous souls.

Few may realize, however, that a pro-life cause quite near and dear requires equal bravery, though of a different nature. I’ve lately realized the importance of openness to life not just within our cities and states, but more specifically within our homes and especially within our marriages. What happens within the family will spread to the world, and what happens in the family starts with the marriage. It takes just two.

In my short six years as a wife, I’ve learned and observed enough to know that marriage calls for a constant effort of communication, compromise and sacrifice from us both. Currently, Andrew and I are adjusting to a new career, juggling three little boys and anticipating the imminent arrival of our baby girl. Lately it feels like we hardly see each other because of how much life demands.

Regardless of what the ins and outs of family life look like for any of us, spouses are easily reduced to casual roommates in a whirlwind of busyness. Andrew joked that sometimes it feels like we’re running a non-profit because our interactions are so often task-oriented that we fail to really see each other. Despite being a common issue, blindness to the personhood of our spouses can develop into a harmful malady in the home; when we don’t recognize the depth of our spouses’ spiritual, emotional and physical needs, they become easy to disregard and disrespect. Keep your eyes and hearts open to life in your marriage with the following:

1) Pray. Pray for him. Pray for her. Pray for yourself. Pray together. Pray apart. Pray in secret or let them know. A marriage laced with prayer will thrive in joy and be upheld in trials. No need to be too complex – sometimes a simple “God bless Andrew and Mary protect him” suffices, and other times Andrew will offer larger sacrifices for me.

2) Be receptive. The best advice I’ve ever received for hectic times was to close my mouth and open my ears. Don’t just give your husband or wife a chance to vent; listen and validate their emotions without criticism. A relationship where a person feels free to be vulnerable will be cherished and respected by both spouses.

3) Hug and kiss. Research proves that hugs lasting around 20 seconds decrease stress hormones and increase hormones associated with contentment and trust. Similarly, giving your sweetie one 15 second kiss every day invokes affection and helps you recall your close relationship to each other. A good hug or kiss can drown out distraction to maintain focus.

During Respect Life Month, revamp how receptive you are to your beloved to encourage life and joy to thrive in your house. A Catholic marriage is never a contract between two persons, but a sacramental covenant among three – husband, wife and God Himself, who drew the two of you together according to His purpose. What happens within the family will spread to the world; what happens in the family starts with the marriage; and what starts in the marriage starts with God. It takes just three.

Katie Sciba is the author of She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and three sons, Liam,Thomas & Peter.

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