February is always a rosy month of winter in my life, since it is filled with festivity in our home. My husband and I both have birthdays, and we have a number of friends who also share the birth month with us. There is always the hope of a light snow in Central Texas in February, since it happened two years in a row. And then there is Valentine's day to celebrate, too. Yup. There's no doubt about it. I love February!
After a very difficult and tiring bedtime routine, I was rocking our two year old back to sleep and took the opportunity to pray about what I could be sharing this week. A moment later, my husband brought me a cup of homemade amaretto cocoa since he knew I'd be staying up late to write (I know, right??!!) and then my heart heard its answer. February is a month that celebrates marriage in a special way. In the same manner in which I prepare myself during Advent and Lent to anticipate a joyful celebration, why not do the same for World Marriage Day, with daily reminders to lift up this holy vocation.
It can be challenging for us, nearly 10 years into our marriage, to demonstrate love for each other as we did when we were first married. Deep in the trenches of parenthood, we feel drained and harried during the day, and at night we get pulled into our different interests. Often these days, love takes the form of letting someone sleep in or making their favorite meal, or folding the laundry together while watching "Dr. Who" on Netflix. We all need reminders to tune up our marriages, and we are no exception! :)
Here are 14 ideas to bless our marriages in the month of February.
1) Ask these 5 questions every week. Allow the quieter person to initiate the conversations. My husband and I have been doing this for a few months and we really look forward to it (and he appreciates getting air time!)
2) Trade roles for one day. Maybe the husband can prepare dinner one evening while the wife takes the kids for a walk around the block.
3) Make eye contact. Hug and kiss in front of the children. Be positive. Meditate on the way God has loved your spouse since the moment they were born.
4) Unplug your devices. Put away phones, close the laptop, keep the t.v. off. Light candles and put on your favorite music instead. The Jack Johnson station on pandora is a fave in our home.
5) Love letters! Decorate an extra shoe box alongside the kids for special Valentines for JUST you and your spouse. Write words of affirmation and be specific about what you love about your spouse.
6) Pray for each other. Ask each other for prayer intentions and then pray for those intentions together.
7) Date night! If you don't want to brave the crowds on Valentine's day, then have one earlier or later in the month, but get out of the house and do something together, it doesn't have to be extravagant to be special. Take turns planning future date nights by buying tickets in advance or saving money in designated envelopes. Commit to making one envelope for every month of the year. Line up a sitter so you have extra accountability! :)
8) Praise each other in front of friends and family.
9) Let the early bird sleep in and bring them breakfast.
10) Read Pope Benedict's first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" together, and refresh your memory on the Catholic history of Valentine's Day.
11) Attend a marriage vow renewal Mass or celebrate World Marriage Day with friends whose marriages inspire yours.
12) Make a top ten list of your favorite romantic movies, and see how many you can watch during the month. Let the less opinionated movie-watcher have the input! Here's my list if you're interested!
13) Be silly. Have a pillow fight, a food fight, a dance party. Swing on the swings at the park, jump on the trampoline, with and without the kids.
14) Take some quizzes on the For Your Marriage website and browse through the many great ideas and resources to strengthen your bond with your spouse!
‘'How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice … Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit … They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts … Seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present.’' - Tertullian