Friday, July 15, 2011

The Mountain of Marriage

When we make our vows, we are entering into a covenant relationship with God in the institution of marriage.  This relationship binds us with our spouse, by the power of God, in the purpose of becoming one.  "We need to see marriage as a commitment in the Lord and by doing so, we can have the courage and grace to take up our crosses of incompatibility and work on learning how to truly love."

I read this examination of conscience in a book written by the Catholic author, Chantal R. Howard, and I wanted to share it since there is much soul searching in these questions on how we treat our spouse on a daily basis.  I believe that any marriage could be stronger if we took the time to ponder these questions and act on them.  These questions were originally written by Charles E. Hansen, The Technology of Love, and are "based on ten practical components of love, or ten action elements, that help us to evaluate whether we are actually loving our spouse."

1.  Attentiveness~  Have I been attentive to my spouse's emotional and physical needs this day?

2.  Listening~  When my spouse shares his/her concerns, dreams or desires, do I truly listen or am I quick to interrupt, trying to usurp the conversation for my own benefit?  Do I honor my spouse with the greatest respect, seeking to understand his/her world through what he/she shares?

3.  Thanking~  Am I in the habit of thanking my spouse for his/her acts of kindness, service and love?  Do I take my spouse for granted?

4.  Praising~  Do I make it a priority of love to affirm my spouse?  Do I think and speak well of my spouse?  Do I accept my spouse for who he/she is, reinforcing his/her dignity with words of kindness and praise?

5.  Encouraging~  Have I made efforts to encourage my spouse in his/her pursuits?  Do I seek to motivate my spouse to take time for spiritual and physical disciplines and free time?

6.  Comforting~  Am I quick to offer support and strength to my spouse?  Do I reach out to my spouse, trying to ease his/her pain?  Have I sought to cheer my spouse in times of tension and stressfulness?

7.  Assisting~  Am I willing to set aside my own preferences and self-will so as to assist my spouse whenever he/she needs me?  Have I made an effort today to anticipate the ways in which I can serve my spouse?

8.  Sharing~  Do I share my heart with my spouse?  Did I make an effort to be affectionate and close to my spouse this day?  Do I open myself up physically, emotionally and spiritually so that my marriage relationship is always discovering greater depth?

9.  Contributing~  Am I continually seeking to build up my relationship with Christ, deepening my understanding of my vocation so that I can contribute in new ways to the growth of my marriage?

10.  Protecting~  Have I protected my marriage from the attacks of division, lust, selfishness and the allurements of other unhealthy distractions?  Do I guard our union by seeking to keep my spouse as my first priority after God?  Am I willing to always stand up for my spouse in public?  Am I ready to lay my life down for the sake of my spouse?

G.K. Chesteron said "The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.  For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible."

This post is based off of the book, The School of the Family, written by Chantal R. Howard.  She's a new author for me and I'm learning a great deal from her about the Catholic perspective on love, marriage, children and Our Lord.


  1. This is good stuff! I need to remember this list daily! the moment I start slacking, I can really see it. Thanks for sharing, Noreen!

  2. Great post! I definitely need to keep this list checked off always :)

  3. I read somewhere that the secret to a successful marriage is that one spouse should be slightly deaf ... preferably the husband!

    Seriously though ... this is a great post.

    God bless.

  4. Thank you Sarah & Heather! I think I too, need to review this list daily to be a better wife to my husband.

    Victor ~ I see the wisdom in your comment!!!

  5. Noreen, I'm so pleased to see you here. I look forward to reading more of your great posts. I love this one about marriage. So much to think about and to put into action. Thank you!

  6. I recall years ago the sermon on Sunday was about marriage and the priest used your quote above: "We need to see marriage as a commitment in the Lord and by doing so, we can have the courage and grace to take up our crosses of incompatibility and work on learning how to truly love."

    When we got home, before entering the house, I hugged and kissed my wife and then picked her up and entered the house - like newlyweds do.

    She asked: "What got into you?"

    I said: "Did you not hear the priest say 'pick up your cross of incompatibility?' "

    I got a slap in the face and no roast lunch that Sunday!

    Priests aren't always right. (Laughs quietly).

    God bless.

  7. Oh Victor... I'm chuckling myself!! Your wife must be a saint ;) LOL

    That quote came from the book I referenced and I think it's very truthful!

  8. Noreen, today we went to a Fatima family Mass where there were special prayers and blessings for families. Today Father invited all the married couples to renew their vows. I cried! It was so beautiful and moving. (Actually I seem to cry a lot!) After Mass Father had exposition and blessed each family in turn with the Blessed Sacrament. Apparently, these devotions are held every month at the monastery. We need all the grace we can get so our marriages and families survive in this world. Must make a trip out to the monastery a regular event.

  9. Noreen,
    This is an excellent post on marriage - thank you for posting it.
    I had to laugh at Victor's comment! You're right - his wife must be a saint ;)
    The book "School of the Family" sounds great and I'll have to keep my eye out for it. God bless!

  10. This is excellent! Thank you:)
    I too, will be looking for the book you mention...sounds like a very good read!

  11. Sue~ that sounds wonderful to have your wedding vows renewed! Especially at a Fatima Family Mass. I agree we need all the grace we can get to forge strong and holy marriages!

    Mary~ I loved it too that I had to share it even though I haven't finished reading the book yet. I'm close though and I'm learning a lot from this author.

    Owner~ thank you for your support! I would highly recommend this book and anything else Chantal R. Howard writes in the future.

  12. Noreen, Excellent post. Thanks for sharing. I caught one commercial over the past week that had me laughing a little too hard. It was some man who was going to win something if he listened to his wife for 5 SECONDS! I couldn't remember the brand it was advertising, but it just got me. He looked like he was in some kind of pain but he believed he could make it for 5 seconds. We marry these living, breathing, gifts of God to us, and then we (I) have trouble just being attentive when they (he) are (is) talking? Chesterton is 100% on target with the quote as well. Great post. You put it together beautifully.

  13. Thank you Colleen but the real credit goes to Chantal R. Howard. She's an amazing Catholic woman and writer! I have not seen that commercial but I can see the humor in it!!

  14. If all married couples would keep just this one post on hand and read it every day, then put it into practice, there would be a lot more happy marriages and good homes for kids. Thanks for this post.

  15. Great post!! Very good timing as my hubby and I are celebrating our anniversary this week!
    Victor, you just make me laugh!!
    Thanks Noreen!

  16. Barbara ~ I so agree, that if married couples would review these questions on a regular practice and sincerely reflected on them, the state of marriages in our nation would be much improved.

    Colleen ~ Happy Anniversary!!