The truth about marriage: Turn off the noise, turn on the attention

Marian Christiana

Marian Christiana

In July I attended the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers conference (NACFLM) in St. Louis. During one of the breakout sessions, the presenter mentioned that when he speaks to couples with hurting marriages, the couples’ conversation can be broken down to two basic points…the wife wants to be loved and cherished and the husband wants to be respected. Are relationships really that simple?

In Pope Francis’s new encyclical, Lumen Fidei (“ Light of Faith”), he states that “only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey.”

I am reminded how easily we are turned away from the basic truth of marital love by today’s culture when I consider Pope Francis’ quote in light of the conference presenter’s experience illustrating that husbands want to be respected and wives want to be loved and cherished. We don’t start our marriages planning to disrespect our husbands or make our wives feel unloved.

The real challenge to marriage today that was driven home to me during the conference sessions in St. Louis is to keep our love grounded in truth through all of the push, pull and distraction of modern society. If we consider that the comments by the presenter at the NACFLM conference are accurate, and that the elemental truths in a marriage are that the husband wants to be respected and the wife wants to be loved and cherished, how do you get back to those core values if they are now missing in your married life?

Here’s an idea, as simple as it sounds: Turn off the computer; turn off the television; turn off the cell phones; turn off the radio; turn off the CD player; turn it all off. Unplug and reconnect with each other. I heard time and again in St. Louis that today’s distractions and continuous background noises are eroding the fundamental truth of marital love and communication. Husbands and wives are turning in on themselves instead of reaching out to each other. It is difficult at best to feel loved, cherished and respected when you are not paying attention to one another.

Give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quality time together can help rebuild a relationship where the truth that was there early on may have been misplaced.

Marian Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.

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