So, if you are back for more I think it is safe to assume that we agree that we are our spouses “keeper.” The challenge now, is where to start. The best place, once we understand that we have fallen short, is always the sacrament of reconciliation. We must have the grace of God provided in this sacrament to change the spiritual course of our marriage. But before you go to reconciliation, spend some time in prayer and, if possible, explore this challenge with your spiritual director. Ask Mary and Joseph (the models of the perfect family) to pray for you, to help you see your shortcomings, pray for God’s light as you ask yourself a few tough examen questions we have provided for your reflection:
- Have I neglected the spiritual care of my spouse?
- Have I allowed the busy-ness of life to crowd out my primary responsibility of caring for the spiritual needs of my spouse?
- Have I put my own needs and desires ahead of the spiritual needs of my spouse?
- Have I done anything that distracts my spouse from his/her spiritual development pursuits?
- Have I failed to nurture the spiritual interests of my spouse?
- Have I allowed my own fears or feelings of inadequacy to hinder spiritual activities with my spouse (e.g. praying together)?
- Have I been impatient at the lack of spiritual growth in my spouse and allowed despair to rise, or my hope in Christ to wane?
- Have I stopped praying and making sacrifices for my spouse that they might come to know Christ or to know Christ more fully?
- Have I stopped working on my own spiritual progress in holiness toward my spouse because of offenses that I nurture?
- Have I failed to forgive my spouse as Christ has forgiven me?
The good news is that God will give you the grace and strength necessary to honor your marriage and either deepen your relationship as it stands, or to embark on a new spiritual journey together. If you have taken these posts seriously, you are well on your way to changing the spiritual course of your marriage. The next step is to explore how to make basic commitments and follow through on them. Be assured that God’s grace will be with you as you fight to bring Christ more fully into the center of your relationship.
In Christ, Dan and Stephanie