There are plenty of things in life that can weaken a marriage. Busy schedules, stress, work, school, kids, finances, illness, and various forms of sin can all take their toll. And during the COVID-19 crisis, you may be dealing with some or all of these things all at once. So what can you do to help you and your spouse find your footing during these difficult times?
Mark Hart, a Catholic author and the Executive Vice President of Life Teen International, stopped by Trending with Timmerie recently and suggested a simple tool that has helped his marriage to his wife of 15+ years.
“One of the things we did really early on that I’m really happy about is we sat down and crafted a personal mission statement for our marriage and for our family,” Hart explained. “We sat down said, ‘What do we want our family to look like in the world? What do we want our relationship, our sacrament, to convey to the world?’ And in doing so, that’s really been helpful.”
In this world it is inevitable that trials will come. But Hart said having a shared mission, a shared vision, and establishing the shared priorities in your marriage makes it easier to grow together when trials come, rather than letting arguments lead you further apart.
“Over the last 15+ years, when situations come up, or there’s money stress (like a lot of us are going through right now with COVID), the possibility of moving or changing jobs, if the Lord blesses you with children and they enter the picture, as you lose loved ones, or maybe lose a parent, as other things that are beyond your control start to befall you, you go back to that mission statement. I want our family to do this, I want our family to look like this. This is kind of an interface that’s different,” said Hart.
Putting together a mission statement for your marriage should be done through prayer and discernment together. Each person, each marriage, and each family has their own unique gifts that the Lord has given them. Your family mission statement will likely look different than someone else’s. But that’s because the Lord has a unique call for your and your family.
It can be something simple, as Hart suggested, saying “Just sit down and say, ‘We want to be a home that’s just known for its hospitality.’ Or ‘We want to be a home that’s known for its Catholic character.’ ‘We want to be evangelistic.’ ‘We want to serve our local parish.’ ‘We want to serve the greater Church.’ Whatever it is.”
“Every family is different, and every couple is different,” Hart acknowledged. “But still, sit down and have that. Because that way when bad things happen (and they will come) now you can look through that mission statement, almost as a filter and as a guide, to say: what do we stand for?”
A mission statement can help a marriage grow in good times, but it can also be a grounding force when difficult times come. Knowing that you have a foundation that is rooted in prayer and is a fruit of your shared priorities can help direct your prayer and help you grow as a couple – even when you are feeling stressed or out of control.
Hart pointed out, “You can make your decision just based on stress. You can make your decisions based on money. You can make your decisions based on what things you can control. But certain things are gonna happen that you can’t control. If you go into marriage thinking that if we just put our heads down and grind this thing out, we’ll make anything work, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed. Because where does the Lord enter into that?”