Happy St. Valentine’s Day!! Hands down, my favorite holiday of the year right there next to Christmas…and St. Patrick’s Day.
How would you describe the romance in your life? Exciting? Lifeless? New?
How about holy? When it comes to relationships, keeping the faith isn’t often connected with lighting the spark, but I submit that the two go hand-in-hand. Since love is in the air today, there’s no better way to keep the fire burning than inviting God into your romance.
Holy romance involves pursuing and accepting the grace of God in your relationship and maintaining respect of the mutual dignity found in yourself and your beloved.
Wait, wha?? How do you do that??
In a culture that focuses on the idea of just two people in a relationship, it’s hardly mainstream to acknowledge that God is the essential third party. Maintaining a relationship is fun and exciting, but there are challenges, short-comings, and the occasional frustration to make you recognize your imperfections; relying on God’s grace to keep things going is much better than taking it all on yourselves. After all, “a three-ply cord is not easily broken,” (Eccl. 4:12) and a love that carries the presence of Christ within it, working to do what God desires, will stand against time and tempest.
But let’s slow down. First, consider increasing how frequently you pray together – say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy or Rosary on a walk after dinner, meet for a few minutes of Eucharistic adoration before a date, go to confession and Mass together. Prayer allows you to experience the love of God and in doing so, you’re more able to love each other.
Second, it’s also crucial to talk about your relationship every now and then to make sure you’re on the same page. I love this part :-D and I think a lot of women do, but sometimes it’s tough to coax a discussion of feelings from our men. In such cases, my best suggestion is to be brief: asking for hours and hours of conversation about every tiny aspect of your love connection miiiiight be a little much (unless, of course, he’s game for it!). Ask him what things he likes about your relationship or what he’d like to see change, then follow through. It’s as simple as that! though not necessarily easy if it requires some major changes from both of you.
Above all, try to imitate God in how you love each other. Sure – it’s a pretty tall order, but fortunately the instructions are laid out perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul’s renowned writing of love as being patient, kind and beyond. While this scripture is read a million times over in weddings and engraved on all sorts of home decor, the best way for me to read it is slowly and carefully – trying to take in each phrase and understand how living it out would look. Like anything new, inviting God into your relationship if you haven’t before may feel unnatural or forced; but with determination and patience, you’ll see a new radiance in your connection with your sweetheart.
In my own experience, the quality of my relationship within my marriage tends to mirror the quality of my relationship with God. For example, if I’m not praying regularly as an individual, I find that I feel distant from my husband and I don’t communicate as well. I’m more self-centered instead of self-giving. If I’m attentive to God’s presence, on the other hand, and joyfully accepting of His will, I’m much more open, loving and cheerful in our married vocation. I’m more willing to give of myself and maintain a spirit of generosity in the things I do for my husband and it spreads to my kids, too. We’re closer and better friends when we’re prayerful together and individually.
Any romantic relationship requires work and commitment and while your connection may be spot on, there are usually occasions of feeling “off” with your beloved. Persistently and consistently inviting God into your romance breaks down any barriers, allowing you to be open and honest with yourselves. You’re more free to feel at ease and comfortable both with each other and with God AND free to see each other in a holy, truly romantic light.
Original edition written for the Catholic Connection.