It’s Valentine’s Day! And while chocolate hearts and sugary sweets might be the typical way to celebrate, it’s good to remember that this is a day honoring St. Valentine, who was martyred for his faith during the time of the Roman Empire. What better way, then, to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by focusing on your faith and the spiritual life of your marriage?
This week on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ reflected on the importance of supporting your spouse in the spiritual life, and how this is a commonly overlooked part of marriage.
“In my experience helping husbands and wives to really live the fullness of their marriage vows together, this particular issue is very difficult,” he said. “It oftentimes becomes a real stumbling block inside of a relationship. Why is it so hard to invite our spouses into prayer? Why is it so hard to challenge our spouses in the spiritual life?”
“Based on my limited anecdotal experience, I would guess that the vast majority of couples struggle in this area,” Fr. Matthew acknowledged. “Or they don’t struggle, but they just don’t talk about it, don’t bring it up, and don’t even work on sharing their spiritual lives together.”
Fr. Matthew pointed out that even couples who practice their faith often struggle to help each other grow in their spiritual lives.
“Maybe you both go to Mass. Maybe you both even have a tacit understanding of what your prayer life is going to be like. But when it comes down to helping your spouse go to Confession more often, helping them go to Mass when they’re supposed to, challenging them to prayer, it’s difficult. It’s intimidating even.”
And why is that? Fr. Matthew suggested, “The spiritual life is so personal. It’s so intimate to our life. We’re not talking about where we want to eat. We’re talking about what is most important in our lives. And when we’re challenged in that area, maybe called out even in that area, we take it rather personally, don’t we?”
“So I think the first thing to recognize is the reason that it’s difficult to talk about the spiritual life is because this is a very personal area. But that’s also simultaneously one of the most important reasons why we must talk about it. Because husband and wife have to share the most important elements of their lives together. They’re called to form one flesh, to form a communion of persons. You can’t do that by holding back what is most essential in our own lives – a relationship with God. So we have to enter that area. We have to share these things with one another.”
So this Valentine’s Day take a look at your marriage and how you are supporting your spouse in the spiritual life. If you never talk about it, take that step and bring it up. If you already share the details of your spiritual life, ask each other how you can better support the other in their relationship with the Lord. And if you and your spouse are not on the same page faith-wise, ask the Lord how you can show His love to your spouse through your life of faith.
“I want to encourage you to make sure that in your marriage the spiritual life is an essential component,” Fr. Matthew told listeners. “Make sure that in your marriage you’re able to talk about the spiritual life. Because you recognize how important it is. You recognize how essential it is. You also recognize how intimate it is. And so you’re going to be sensitive about it. You’re going to be delicate about how you approach it, but you’re not going to miss the opportunity to share your spiritual life together as husband and wife.”