Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dressing Up Your Marriage!

In this little newsletter you have come to expect a bit of insight into how to run your club, ideas on games and suggestions for activities. We hope you will be pleased to know that this newsletter is focusing on you! Well, YOU, by way of your marriage.

We want to encourage you to make sure in juggling schooling, carpooling, and activities you don’t let the ball that is your marriage get dropped or neglected. Your marriage is the foundation of your family and therefore vital to the formation and raising of your children. While we would say our clubs (all of them) are great (and they are), we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you and encourage you to make sure you are taking time to keep your sacrament of marriage as healthy as possible.

It is an interesting phenomenon within Catholic families that they will make sure to get to the Sacrament of the Mass every Sunday (and usually more often with many families) and the Sacrament of Confession monthly but parents balk when it comes to getting out on a date!

Consider the preparations you went through the last time one of your children first received a sacrament. You ensured they attended every meeting necessary, you went over their books and materials and, for sure, they had something wonderful to wear. This same dedication however falters a bit, for all of us, as receiving Communion or Confession becomes a more common event.

We can all become so familiar with receiving the sacraments that we don’t pay as much attention. Some Catholics even fulfill the old adage of “familiarity breeds contempt”. For these families they can barely seem to get out of bed before heading to Mass, much wear clothes fit for a King. I know I have fallen into judgment when I see people in communion line who seem to have forgotten they are at Mass! “Don’t they know they are receiving a sacrament!," I can wonder.

However, while we could not imagine ourselves ever taking those sacraments for granted, are we as dedicated to keeping the sacrament of our marriage as alive, vital and important to our lives? Have we become so familiar with our marriage sacrament that we are attending to it as if we were attending Mass in pajamas?

Our bishops have recognized this reality and have dedicated this year of catechesis to “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love”. They are also encouraging us to give time to our marriages through World Marriage Day and National Week of Marriage, USA. You can get more information on these efforts at

We gain grace every time we take part in the sacraments of our Church and our marriage is no different. From our catechism (#1641) we can know: "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."

When your children’s enthusiasm for the Eucharist and Confession wanes we all strive to remind them of the graces they gain. We tell them - repeatedly if necessary - these sacraments are both necessary for their salvation and key to achieving it. Not only that, we will tell them, receipt of both of those sacraments makes life on earth easier as well. The same is true for our marriage.

Our marriages not only help us attain holiness but also make life here on earth both easier and, hopefully, a whole lot more fun! This year we want to encourage you to make time for you and your marriage. Make date night a priority - even if it takes place in your own home due to lack of a babysitter or money. Look into good books on marriage (I might suggest my friends and radio hosts - Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as a good first stop -

Other couples give high marks to Marriage Encounter or their diocese marriage retreats as a yearly necessity. See what is available in your area to help you have a better marriage than you do, and be ready to admit that everyone can have a better marriage! Commit to reading a well-recommended book or just making time to talk about something other than the kids and the bills!

Consider these efforts for your marriage a vital part of your children’s formation. Remember they will base their ideas of a spouse and marriage on what they see at home - help them to see only good things. With excitement over the upcoming “Princesses You Can Believe In” series, we might say working on your marriage is like teaching your kids “Happily Ever After” is not just in fairy tales!

By focusing on the importance of marriage it is not our intention to make anyone who is a single parent to feel like a second-class citizen and not vital to your child's formation. Having single parents in my family (Rachel's), I've seen first-hand both the struggles and successes in families led by a mother (my sister) or father (my brother) alone.

Insuring you have time to restore yourself is perhaps even more vital when you are working alone. Our encouragement to families to build up their marriages should never be interrepted as a criticism for those who aren't married. Parents are key to a child'd formation regardless as you will remain a reflection of God's love. Strive to make time regularly to both form yourself and restore yourself so you are better prepared to face the battles and struggles of life.


Anonymous said...

this is easier said than done. I have the privilege of being the mom to 9 kids- 7 still at home. I have never had any family or friends wish to take on the responsibility of caring for that many children- thus I have never had a weekend away for any reason- and my oldest is 26. There seems to be a disconnect between following God's plan for your family and what others think it should be- such as-"If you want time off, you shouldn't have had so many children." I tend to dismiss this- "tend your marriage" trend- since those who preach it don't have the childcare dilemma that some of us have.

EcceHomoPress said...

I sympathize with your dilemma. I have 10 kids and when they were much younger, it was very hard to get away. We were far from family, had no disposable income and many, many young children. Although we didn't get away as often as I would have liked, we did manage a few nights out for a cup of coffee, a walk, or an window shopping.
One way I would be able to get someone to stay with the kids is to trade babysitting with another mom of many children. One friend even took care of the kids one weekend (her five plus my five or six at the time...all under 10 or so) and then we switched on another weekend.
If you absolutely can't get out for a date, stay in for a date. Put the kids to bed early, fix a fancy dessert just for you and your spouse, turn down the lights, set a fancy table complete with candlelight and just spend some time with another.
Of course, as the kids got older (mine are ages 2 to 24), we got out more often and let the older ones babysit. Money is still tight, so we just go out for dessert and coffee to a restaurant we have a gift card to.
God bless you in your work for His work! -Joan

Anonymous said...

I am smiling reading this! Last night, my husband and I decided to try a short date, to go out for dessert, with the children at home. After we were seated.....The waitress never came to our table! We sat there for 45 minutes, and finally, got up and left! Still, we had 45 minutes to chat, and there were no interruptions. It was also a very inexpensive date! Thanks for the reminder to spend time together. We, too, had no babysitters when the kids were younger (we only have 7 children, and no family was near/were interested). But now they are old enough for us to venture out, and we do have date night at home, more times than not! God bless you!

Marcia said...

Thanks for the reminder! Balancing the second responsibilty (marriage) with the third responsibility (children) CAN be very hard. I was just lamenting to my husband today at my need for time away with him.

Rachel said...

@Anonymous - You are right - I don't want anyone to think my message is one that would endorse limiting your family-size because it impacts your dating life! I am the mom of many myself, (11 kids, 8 at home). This challenge was not a call to 'tend to your marriage' but rather a reflection on marriage as a sacrament and do we give this sacrament the honor we do others (such as Eucharist and Confession).

I am not asking for a weekend away but a night/hour or so away (with your kids watching/caring for each other) can be a real opportunity for grace.

God Bless - Rachel