by Libby DuPont
Lent is a time to grow closer to God, but it looks different for married people than it did when we were single. Here are some hints to help make your Lent successful.
DO consider what will bring you closer to your spouse.
Growing in love for your spouse is the primary way that God will draw you to himself. So, while it’s great to give up chocolate or pray more, you can also grow in holiness by going on a date with your spouse or learning how to communicate better.
DON’T take on a penance that will make life miserable for your spouse.
Does giving up coffee make you mean? Will an extra Bible study leave your stressed-out spouse to handle the kids alone? Will that service project take you away from a project your spouse has been asking you to do forever? If so, consider something else!
DO think about praying, fasting and giving alms TO and FOR your spouse.
Consider giving extra time, attention, affection, or small, thoughtful gifts to your beloved. Try the trifecta: skip a lunch or treat (fasting), offer it for your spouse’s intentions (prayer) and spend the money on something that will make your spouse feel loved (alms).
DON’T think that Lent needs to be all doom and gloom to be successful — some of the best alms you can give are a joyful attitude.
St. Augustine said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” A great attitude will bless the whole house.
DO pray together.
Start from wherever you are (even if you have never prayed before; just say a Hail Mary together) and challenge yourselves to go deeper.
DON’T be tempted to develop parallel spiritual journeys that you never share.
Our faith in God (even if we have none) is a deeply personal part of us, and it helps to shape our values and worldview. If we never share such an important part of ourselves, our relationship is doomed to be superficial.
DON’T fast from time spent loving your spouse (i.e., date night).
You are allowed to have fun with your spouse during Lent, especially if it brings you closer. Consider turning off the TV and taking a walk, playing a game, listening to music or reading together.
DO remember that romance and affection are HOLY.
Being “in love” is a profoundly holy disposition of soul. When we’re affectionate toward our spouse, we’re less critical, and become patient, forgiving and generous.
DO attend a marriage enrichment.
If your parish doesn’t have one, here are two free, online resources:
• EverMore in Love: 7-Day Real Connection Challenge at: charityengine.net.
• School of Love at: schoolofloveusa.com.