5 Ways Catholic Moms can Improve their Marriage
“You see that woman there? She has everything, a 4000 square foot house, a remarkable wardrobe, a successful career, a busy family life, a membership at a local gym, lot’s of travel, money. From the outside it looks like she has everything all together – but she doesn’t. Her marriage is falling apart. She has everything a woman by today’s standard would want. She has everything, except for wisdom. Lack of wisdom is killing her marriage.”
~ Anonymous Quote
Stop Complaining about your Husband and Start Praying for Him.
I have found, in chatting with my girlfriends over coffee, the temptation to complain about one’s husband is a very real temptation, and one that we all have to battle – sometimes on a daily basis. We need to take this issue seriously – and try to remedy it. I get it – it is very difficult to stop complaining, especially about our husbands (who have the uncanny ability to get under our skin sometimes) but it is extremely important for the health of our marriages, as well as for the sake of our own (and our husband’s) mental health.
Honestly, how would you feel if you found out that your husband was sitting in a bar, over a beer (like we do over coffee) or worse, typing out his complaints about you and your family life online – and then hear him say he was just “venting”? I would feel betrayed, and this is exactly what we are doing. We aren’t taking our husbands ‘for better or worse’. We are taking the better (and often we’re taking it for granted), and then rejecting him for ‘the worse’. And then we are divulging private information – his worst qualities (and perhaps qualities he’s not proud of and trying to change) – and exposing him, for the world to see and judge. This is the very definition of betrayal.
One of the best ways to combat focusing on our husbands’ faults is to pray for them. Pretend I am a good friend for just a moment, and ask yourself, ponder, reflect on these questions:
Do I pray for my husband regularly?
Do I offer Masses for his intentions?
Do I pray that he is able to deal with the stressors of his work?
Do I pray that he is given the graces he needs to be a good husband, father and employee?
Do I pray that God sends him friends, work contacts, family members that will support him in his Catholic faith?
Do I pray that God helps him overcome his weaknesses?
Do I pray that he is given the strength to deal with my faults and the demands of fatherhood?
Do I pray that God refreshes his soul and gives him wisdom?
Do I pray that he gets satisfaction from his work?
Do I pray that his Guardian Angel protects him in sports activities and his business trips?
Do I pray that he remembers to pray for our children, and the kids to which he was asked to be Godfather or Confirmation sponsor?
Make a List of Your Husband’s Strengths.
Another good way to combat the temptation to complain – and therefore focus on the not-great things about our husbands – is to make a list of his strengths. I will never forget the time that my husband was in the ER at a local hospital for the fifth time in one month. I was petrified that I might lose him to the same condition that took his dad the previous year. Sitting in the ER for the fifth time, I was getting very uncomfortable. The reality of seeing him hooked up to 101 different pieces of equipment scared the living daylights out of me. As I sat there, the Holy Spirit helped me to see all of these amazing characteristics my husband had, that I had somehow conveniently forgotten about. By the grace of God – and the power of the moment in that hospital – I saw the husband I had fallen in love with; his humour, his patience, his hard work, his commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church, his intellectual vigour (he has 3 Masters degrees), his amazing ability to converse, his willingness to drive me here and there, his loyalty, his ability to tutor our children and explain matters of faith…the list goes on and on. I was left breathless, as the Holy Spirit worked in me – and on me (not unlike how the doctors were working on my husband!) – and I realized I had made a big mistake as a wife (and this isn’t easy to confess) by taking my husband’s goodness, and his life, for granted. I made a resolution that day in the hospital to focus on my husband’s strengths and pray for him in his weaknesses.
Let the Holy Spirit work in you, especially if you struggle with this issue. Some moms become self-righteous in their marriages, telling themselves how wonderful they themselves are (focusing on their own strengths) and daily relate to their husbands with just their husbands faults in mind. Don’t make the mistake of focusing in on your husband’s weaknesses and your own strengths. It is a marriage-killer.
Make a List of Your Own Faults
This goes hand in hand with making a list of your husband’s good qualities. Making a list of our own faults helps us to see that we’re not exactly the rays of sunshine we might think we are, but, just like our husbands, we have good qualities and not-so-good ones too. Try to list your own faults. Then seriously think about what it is like for someone else to actually live with those faults you listed. Come on ladies, fess up. I know it’s hard, but it’s very good to acknowledge our own failings, and then work on them as best we can. Do an Examination of Conscience and go to confession, over and over if need be. You might find it difficult, but it provides a mental and spiritual lightness that you can’t get elsewhere.
I went through this exercise and found it difficult. There were many things about the “package of Dorothy” that must have made life with me a cross for my husband. For example, I have had a variety of health issues over our 24-year marriage. If I made a list of them your jaw might drop and you might think my husband is a saint for staying married to me with all the health issues that have come up over the years.
I also thought about how, because of my Polish heritage, I would insist on attending Christmas and Easter celebrations at the parish I grew up attending. This means that for almost 30 years my husband has not heard an English version of the gospel or homily on those high and holy days. He’s made a huge sacrifice that I easily dismissed. I had to seriously think about that sacrifice and let the reality of it sink in. It’s easy as a wife to dismiss what sacrifices our husbands have made for us, but it’s important to think about them. Write them down. Pray about them!
Ditch Materialism as Much as Possible
Bear with me here, as I have to ask a tough question:
Do you think your husband or children care if you wear Michael Kors boots, or carry a Coach purse, have Gucci glasses, or the latest in high-tech baby strollers? Do you think it matters to them whether you have quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances? No, many (children especially) don’t care in the slightest (and in fact will break your Gucci sunglasses just as quickly as ones from the dollar store!). So why do these things matter to us? Why are we caught up in wanting them, or yearning for them? What gives? Why do we overspend on stuff, which in turn requires us to work harder, effectively taking us away from our husbands and most especially, our children?
(Side Note: Please understand that what I’m talking about here is a very different thing than having to work to keep the lights on and put food on the table. The kind of materialism I’m referring to is the kind that binds us to material things and keeps us over-spending on stuff that often isn’t worth the box it comes in – which requires us to work harder and longer, taking us away from our families.)
I hear so many women say that they can’t afford to stay at home with their children in the early years, but at the same time, they are wearing the most expensive name brands, going on extravagant yearly trips, and have carefully constructed this “Disneyland Lifestyle” that demands that they keep crazy work hours away from their families. It begs the question – what is truly important? Is it acquiring name brand boots or purses? Or keeping up with “the Jones’” – basically buying what advertisers and marketers convince us we must have? Or is it being able to take care of our children when they need us most?
It is not necessary to wear expensive brands or dress in the highest of fashions, with a Starbucks coffee in hand, most especially if doing so requires us to sacrifice the health and well-being of our husbands and/or children. It is worthwhile to ask ourselves – and pray about – what our motivation is in desiring costly things or extravagant vacations, and then taking an honest look at the answers that come to us, and changing whatever it is we can change. (A good book to read in regards to this issue is Happy Are You Poor by Father Thomas Dubay. It truly is life-changing!)
Be Brave Enough to Ask yourself the Tough Questions
I once read a book, Smart Questions by Dorothy Leeds, which suggested that one remedy to challenges at work and home lay in the ability to ask the right questions. It fascinated me and as a result of reading the book, I can honestly say I developed a bit of a revolutionary habit – the habit of asking myself questions in prayer.
Like when my husband’s dad passed away suddenly, I asked myself the question: What would a good and supportive wife do right now?
I thought about it objectively as if I was giving the advice to a friend, and I prayed — a litany of ideas started presenting themselves. It was rather a long list and it immediately gave me a list of things that I could do to support my husband and prepare my family for the upcoming days.
I also remember scrolling through Facebook and a mom-friend of mine, in her status, had written that daily she asks herself this question: What can I do today, to make my husband’s life more pleasant? How can I be his helpmate today?
Well my dear reader, I concluded that I wasn’t as holy as she was, but she sure did give me something to think about. What a great pro-active question to ask yourself every day, and a great way to assume an attitude of humble service, instead of one of entitlement.
Make up a list of questions to ask yourself daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly. It seems like such a small thing but doing so can change your outlook on so many things, not least of which is your marriage and family life!
Remember, there is a spiritual battle going on, Satan wants to destroy your marriage, and Satan doesn’t always approach in ways that you would expect. I beg you to pray for your marriage! I have recommended this book to many women whose marriage is in crisis. Love Must be Tough by James Dobson, has helped millions of marriages and it can help yours too!
Whenever I have the opportunity, I encourage everyone to pray my all-time favourite prayer, and so I ask you today to pray the prayer by Cardinal Mercier.
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.
I hope you enjoyed my first reflection of 2018. I went to Eucharistic Adoration today and was inspired to write it.
If you benefited from 5 Ways Catholic Moms can Improve their Marriage, why not let me know your thoughts? I love hearing from readers!
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Dorothy Pilarski is the founder of Dynamic Women of Faith, author, motivational speaker, blogger , guest columnist with the Catholic Register and a facilitator on Salt + Light TV.
To learn a little bit more about Dorothy, visit her website at www.dorothypilarski.com You can get her book, Motherhood Matters, here on Amazon. If you feel called to start a Mother's Group, get the ministry's publication, How to Start a Mother's Group!