Andrew and I were passing ideas back forth – sweets, alcohol, eating between meals. What to give up for Lent? I could do the typical, but I want this year to be different. I want to thrill in Easter joy on a level deeper than Reese’s and the relief that the strife is o’er.
So I thought I’d start with God’s biggest call in my life – my husband.
Marriage with Andrew is my life’s work. A priest friend of ours told us recently, “Your vocation is not to this general idea of marriage, it’s to Andrew. And God will call to you from within that vocation.” Marriage-to-Andrew is my ticket to heaven and the most important thing Jesus asks me to do. And so I’m focusing my sacrifices and efforts on seeing that we are bigger than me, as well as the fact that the Lord Himself designed us to draw the other closer to Him.
And if there’s anything the two of us could use more of, it’s Jesus.
Here is non-exhaustive list of what any two marrieds could do during Lent.
1) Leave the kids with grandparents (or bring them along!) and go to Mass during the week. Nothing and no one will improve your marriage better than Jesus.
2) Ask, “What can I do to make your day better?” Full disclosure: this is a hard one for me. The house, homeschooling, kids, etc. are demanding enough on me and when I’m not wrestling the laundry, I really want to just sit down and do what I do. Swallowing my pride and setting aside my plans to make room for someone else’s is tough – especially when that someone else is adult and capable of handling his own tasks and to-dos. Super saintly, I know; the really that’s the point. The King of Kings and Creator of the universe subjected himself to the service of mankind; I can and should do the same.
3) Keep in mind that you two are a team – approach conflict in a way that tackles the issue instead of each other. One of my favorite professors at Benedictine once told my class, “My wife and I know that we’re two people looking for the truth, so what could be an argument becomes a joint effort toward what’s best for us and our family.”
4) Go to adoration. Swing by the chapel at the start or end of a date or plan a whole hour together. Drawing closer to Christ will bless all that vocation stuff you do. If you can’t make it as a couple, bring his intentions with you before the Lord. As his wife, I know I’m Andrew’s designated intercessor.
5) Don’t interrupt – either vocally or in your mind. Whether he’s filling you in on his day or hashing out his side of an argument, quiet yourself and give him an ear instead of conjuring a response while he’s talking. Ask the Lord to help you receive him as He receives him.
6) Anticipate his needs – does he need a lunch for work? Do you know that his keys aren’t in the usual spot? Put them away. Get his car washed. Send a love note email every day around the same time so he’ll look forward to it. Help make life at home enjoyable for him and your kids.
7) Are you ready for this? Pray the Litany of Humility. Ouch, I know. But lemme tell ya – it hurts so good.
8) Give together. Serve your parish, extended family, or group of friends. Host a big potluck or treat another family (or a few!) to a night off from making dinner by prepping the whole thing yourself. Volunteer somewhere. Substitute for someone’s holy hour. Imitate Christ through shared self-giving.
9) Complete The Love Dare together or on your own.
10) Make time for each other to go to confession every couple of weeks. Be gracious and generous about how long it may take and if you have kids, don’t complain or elaborate on the chaos and challenge of keeping them when your sweetie comes home.
11) Bless another couple! Offer to watch their kids while they take a much-needed night or morning out together.
12) Pray together daily. It doesn’t have to be complicated or eloquent, but I challenge you to go one step beyond what you’re doing right now. If you don’t pray together yet, start with one Glory Be together when you wake up or go to bed – ultimately, our marriages are made for the glory of God.
Pray the Rosary or a Chaplet. If you want to be really spiritually intimate, pray over each other out loud – speak to Jesus about your husband and let your sweetheart have a listen in. It will change you both.
13) Fast. Abstain from something – cream and sugar in your coffee, snacks on Tuesday afternoons, butter on your toast. Offer small sacrifices solely for your spouse’s salvation and well-being.
14) Read Scripture together because the Word of God changes hearts.
15) Give alms. Comb your budget for extra discretionary funds to offer a particular charity or give it to your parish on top of your tithe.
How else can you Lent with your man?? I want to remember that Jesus who blessed the marriage at Cana wants to be invited to my relationship with my husband. And doing so will heal our wounds, fortify us for life’s storms, and help us experience that deep Easter joy.