Connecting through the Cycles of Marriage

from Marriage, A Sacrament of Lasting Love by Heidi and Cory Busse

Christian marriage is a holy vocation in which each spouse is called “to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb” (CCC 1642). Married life gives us a glimpse of the eternal union of God and his Church and calls each spouse to build the other up for everlasting life in heaven.

Cycles of Marriage

Think of the shape of an hourglass. Wide at the top, continually tapering, tight at the middle and flaring out again to its widest point on the other side.  That’s the shape of a marriage. At times we’re far apart, at other times we’re as close as we could be.  The only thing constant in marriage is change.

THE HONEYMOON
The heady, early days of romance are like “living on a breath mint,” because it seems like it takes almost no effort to keep your marriage happy and healthy. As time goes by, novelty is replaced by familiarity. It’s critical to navigate this transition because you want it to breed satisfaction instead of contempt. Falling in love is a wonderful blessing. Staying in love is a choice we make every day (and it takes a lot of work).

YOUNG PARENTS
Children often give a marriage greater meaning and some amazing stuff to post on Facebook. Kids can be a source of joy and fulfillment. But this phase of marriage is also among the toughest. The National Marriage Project reports that couples with children rate themselves as “very happy” in their marriage far less frequently than their childless counterparts, even though marital conflict and divorce rates are identical. To make matters tougher, this phase can last two decades or more. So finding joy in one another and your blossoming family is critical.

MIDDLE AGE/EMPTY NEST
During this phase, your careers are probably flowing well and the house is paid for (or getting closer to it). Now that the kids are grown and gone, you can refocus your time and energy on one another.  Theworld is your oyster — so long as you’ve taken care to stay connected and interested in one another.

THE LATER YEARS
Couples that age together often find a deepening love. Many couples who have been married for twenty, thirty, or forty years say that they are even more in love in the later years of marriage than in their early days.  This phase of marriage may also be called the “best friend” phase because spouses rely on one another and enjoy spending time together. One couple in their later years summed it up this way: “We simply can’t imagine life without each other!”

Staying Connected through the Years
It is important to foster closeness with your spouse through all cycles of marriage. Parenting often becomes the main connection while the “couple relationship” is no longer prioritized. Spending

time together alone as a couple in every phase is essential to staying connected.

  • Date nights may seem trite, but they really do work!
  • If a babysitter isn’t forthcoming, turn off the television, computer, or phone and share the news of the day with each other. A friend of ours who was married for more than forty years says that the secret to a lasting marriage is “to periodically learn something new about your spouse.”
  • Nourishing your faith life together is also essential to a lasting union. Praying together at bedtime and at mealtimes is a great way to keep God at the center of your marriage (and serves as a faith model for children and friends as well).

This content comes to you from Our Sunday Visitor courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

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