by Vivian M. Akel LCSW
“Caring for One’s Spouse” is especially meaningful as my husband and I complete our 33rdyear of marriage.
Over these years, with God’s grace, I have learned much about the meaning of caring and loving in the unique relationship between husband and wife. After a 40-year career as a clinical psychotherapist, I have also learned much about the sadness and sorrow in marriages devoid of God’s grace.
Caring for and about each other in marriage, as well as in other areas of life, is the most beautiful way we can bear witness to Christ in our daily lives and encourage and allow each other to be the best version of who we are.
In a certain way, we pave the way to heaven for our beloved. We do this primarily by creating a home environment in which daily prayer is encouraged and valued as part of family life. Further, we accept our commitment to faithfulness to our spouse in ways that reach far beyond our customary understanding of spousal fidelity. We are faithful when we
Agree to keep the little promises we make to each other.
Keep our dinner plans.
Keep each other’s confidences.
Show up to go to a movie or go for a walk when we say we will.
Make our life plans, as well as our social plans, as a couple.
Avoid disclosing their weaknesses to our friends and colleagues.
Support them through losses and personal crises with love and compassion.
Take their concerns seriously.
Stand with them during the difficult times whether through illness or other personal challenges.
Give them loving but sometimes candid feedback that may be difficult for them to hear.
No one can deny that challenges will emerge over the course of any long-term marriage, but it is possible to face these with love if we stay focused on the graces we have received as a couple and a family. Sometimes overcoming these challenges requires asking for and giving forgiveness, and taking time away from the distractions of our day to day lives, and going on a couples retreat to reconnect with each other and with God’s loving grace. Sometimes it requires simply standing together humbly before God and asking for His help to reignite the love and passion that brought us to Him as a couple.
Each one of us wants and needs to feel loved and valued by our spouse and our family. Caring for each other, with Christ as our model, as he loved His Church, is a wonderful way to show that love and to value our spouse and family.