Continuing on our Advent journey with the Holy Family towards Bethlehem, this is a useful opportunity to experience a retreat in daily life as a married couple, where we can reflect upon, heal, affirm and grow our relationship. This may be a new experience for you: if so, embrace the opportunity together in love and in faith.
Language is an essential quality for good couple communication and sometimes this may even include the use of words! The language of love is multi-faceted and is experienced on different levels throughout the day and throughout the journey of married love. Being aware of the subtle differences and expressions is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. In the excitement of the wedding day we can forget that it is simply the beginning of a new journey as we learn to let go of our preconceived ideas, our own agenda and so begin to learn a new language of the couple. How do we show that we love one another, and what are the ways we express and experience that love?
Reflection: In the Holy Family we find an expression of the language of love as each let go of what was known. Facing uncertainties on the road ahead they learnt the gift of mutual support in facing adversity and hardship. Crucially, their shared faith and trust in God saw them through difficult times. How might this help us on in our marriage?
Just as a balanced diet is essential to our physical well-being, we need to ensure that our married relationship is kept in balance. There are different aspects to the mix that makes the whole. So, it would be good to reflect on the ways in which we feed the physical, spiritual, relational and emotional aspects of our married love. Ensuring that the balance is right requires us to keep in contact with each other. How do we work on this is in our relationship?
Reflection: How do we support one another in times of difficulty and hardship, and what can we learn from the example of Mary and Joseph? Why not reflect on the reality of their lives and consider how they learnt to work together to address their need for shelter, love and nourishment.
Feeding the senses
Feeling nurtured and fed in our relationship matters, which requires good couple communication. When we remember that we have at least five key senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, this reminds us that we communicate in different ways and we need to be aware of this. From this we can share with our spouse what is important and what is that we need. Have you thought how our senses in their different ways and differing intensity help make-up the rich mix of a healthy, mature and growing relationship?
Married love is not a product that we buy off the shelf: it is a complex dish with varied ingredients. We need to work together to create our own unique dish with an intensity of different flavours. An essential ingredient within this mix is the love of God, the ultimate flavour enhancer. This adds balance, insight, intensity and humility into the relationship.
Reflection: Why not spend a little while with the Holy Family resting in the stable and discover from them the importance of listening and reflecting. Consider their ability to trust in one another and the knowledge that once we allow God to be in the mix all will be well, even if the path we travel is not the one we hoped for or expected. Where have noticed God active in our marriage?