An Advent How-to
By Ty Salvant
How are you investing in your marriage this Advent?
There are several ways to observe this holy time as a couple, which improves your marriage and models healthy relationships for your inner circle. Regardless of their age, our children are watching us. Our examples teach them how to interact, manage conflict, serve, love, grow and compromise.
Growing spiritually is equally as important as growth in any other area of your life. Being intentional about our interactions with our spouse in the presence of our children is one of the most important gifts we can give them. I’m not suggesting that we pretend or present a contrived depiction of our marriage to our children. Instead, we share our successes and struggles in age-appropriate ways with our children.
With a houseful of teens, it is vital to help them start to understand the realities of marriage. While I love being married and can’t imagine life without my husband, marriage requires time, effort and energy. Sharing with them can help with the challenges of children pitting parents against each other.
Some examples of how we share with them: Mom and Dad disagree on where to eat dinner since one of us grew up eating at the table and the other in the family room watching TV. We tell the kids that we appreciate their support by following our compromise of breakfast and Sunday meals at the table, and dinners in the family room during the week. Dad and I differ on how much we spend on clothes annually. We mention to the children that it is helpful for them to honor that, instead of regularly requesting items beyond what we can afford.
Mom and Dad have different strengths and struggles, some complement each other, but others don’t. As you grow into the person God created you to be, we, too are growing. Know that we are committed to each other and our family.
We work to strengthen our marriage by scheduling regular date nights to remain connected, praying together and for one another, thanking and forgiving each other, learning from each other and seeking experts on manage conflict, communicating and compromising. We tell them that they need to understand these processes so when navigating relationships, they will know what to look for in a partner.
Your children are learning from your example. Even if you don’t have children, your marriage will benefit from journeying through Advent together. Consider one of the following activities and habits for a healthier marriage: choose a charitable activity, adopt a patron saint, schedule regular date nights, attend adoration, read a book to enhance your relationship, create a gratitude jar and add to it daily, review the Catholic Church’s social teachings, follow a couple’s Advent calendar, pray for friends’ and families’ marriages and watch a movie weekly and discuss.