Marriage enrichment: Marriage Be-Attitudes

Strengthening marriages by strengthening our ‘domestic church’ is possible by modeling sacrificial love

This past Christmas we were discussing New Year’s resolutions with our adult children. Our daughter-in-law shared that she and our son weren’t going to be making resolutions this year.

She told us they were going to have themes for the year.

Our son said his theme was going to be to live a healthier lifestyle. Our daughter-in-law’s theme was to create more independence in her work life.

I liked the idea of a theme, focus or attitude for the year and decided to apply it to my articles for 2014.

My theme this year is going to be strengthening our marriages by strengthening our “domestic churches.”

I have mentioned in previous articles that the Catholic Church considers the family to be the “domestic church,” literally the community that is our home life.

As domestic churches, we have the ability to lead our families toward faith by intentionally making God a daily part of our lives. Children learn their behavior by modeling the behavior of the adults closest to them.

A husband and wife can model the Christian life for their children by simply treating each other with love.

Our behavior toward our spouse should first and foremost reflect Christ’s sacrificial love for his Church. Modeling sacrificial love is not always easy, but in this new year you might be able to find a theme, focus or new attitude in the “Be” steps listed below.

Check out these Be-Attitudes:

1. Be prayerful.

Let your children see you praying together. Share insights with your spouse and/or children from any spiritual material that you are reading.

Discuss with your children what they think they may have learned about their faith that day. Make learning about your faith a family affair.

2. Be kind.

Treat each other with love and respect. Sometimes we treat strangers better than we do our spouses. Show your children that you are each other’s best friend.

Your example will help your children ultimately become good marriage partners themselves.

3. Be proactive.

Design a plan to handle problems before they arise. There are many resources that discuss crisis resolution strategies.

After you and your spouse have researched various strategies, develop a conflict resolution plan for your family. Share it with the entire family.

Begin your research with this article from Strong Marriages:

4. Be involved.

Find an outreach program through your church or community where you can share your gifts of time, talent or treasure. Teach your children that the world will be a better place through their service to others.

5. Be playful.

Your children should see you enjoying each other’s company. Laughter is good for everyone’s spirit. Also, set aside special time for just the two of you. Lovingly taking care of your marital relationship is the best thing you can do for your family.

These are just five Be-Attitudes that might help you create that theme for the New Year within your unique “domestic church.”

Give one or more of them a try or develop one of your own. Good luck.

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