Advent is a time of joy and expectation. Those two words are reminders of what should always be at the core of our marriages and family life: joy in simply being together and in realising the expectation that, as we grow together as a couple and a family, even greater joys are still to come. For this to take root in our hearts and minds we need to be practical and measured in our understanding of joy, and sensible about our expectations. Restrained joy and expectation are really the key to our maintaining a healthy marriage and a happy family. Ensuring that God is in the mix will ensure that the engine of both runs smoothly.
Advent now seems to be less a season of anticipated joy but rather an on-going celebration as we find ourselves buying gifts, negotiating meal plans, and moving from one party, meal or nativity service to the next. It can become so exhausting that by time we arrive to pay our personal homage to Jesus in the manger we are grumpy, exhausted and sadly at risk of conflict.
Advent is a time for us to grow. Our marriages and family relationships are a significant aspect of our daily lives, so we need to tend to our deeper emotional, spiritual, physical, and social needs. This is not as difficult as it sounds: we are quite familiar with seeking out healthy living schemes and indulging in exercise plans. The latter are good, but as we are made to become immortal it therefore does seem wise to spend some time feeding and exercising the spiritual aspects of marriages and family life.
Advent asks us to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, we need to cultivate a spirituality to guide and grow our marriage and family life. So, just as we are keen to eat healthily, we need to ensure that our inner life is fed with good things. A key element in the Ignatian Spirituality tradition is the use of the Daily Examen: a prayerful and positive way of reviewing the day. It is a useful and simple model by which we can reflect on our marriage and our relationships within the family. The following link might prove a God-given gift for you this Christmas. https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/24746/five-ways-the-examen-can-play-role-in-marriage
Advent is a time of movement. We are now travelling together to gather with the Holy Family in Bethlehem. In the ups and downs of marriage and family life we are very fortunate to have the model of the Holy Family to help us. Here we have a real family, not a chocolate box idea of one: a family who experienced their own very real trials and tribulations, not least in having to flee to safety as refugees in a foreign land. This is a tremendous relief when we realise that it is normal for families to experience problems. It is simply that those problems might be different for each of us, but if we allow God to be part of our lives then the outcome is transformed.