By Mario and Paola Martinez
Marriage is a vocation in which the intimate love of spouses reflects the love that God has for his Church. This love is exclusive, indissoluble, and expressed profoundly in the relationship between a husband and his wife. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes this love in a beautiful way: “Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body, and instinct, power and feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and one soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness, in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility…” (CCC 1643).
As couples we often forget about our calling to this lifelong love, or we simply become too busy with our day- to-day responsibilities. As we recall our wedding day, and the promise we made to each other, it becomes clear what the U.S. Bishops stated in their pastoral letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.
“On their wedding day, the couple says a definitive yes to their vocation of marriage. Then the real work of marriage begins. For the remainder of their married lives, the couple is challenged to grow, through grace, into what they already are: that is, an image of Christ‘s love for his Church” (p. 47)
Here are some simple ideas that have helped nurture our conjugal love, even in the busiest of times:
Find an empty, open church. Sit, kneel, pray. Let peace and reverence seep into your being. Quietly pray for each other and discuss your deepest spiritual beliefs.
Commit to a “tech free” night. Turn off your cell phones, computer, the TV, and any other electronic devices, and simply enjoy each other’s company.
Hang out at a bookstore and browse your favorite sections. Many bookstores have cozy reading spots, or a café where you may enjoy a relaxing evening together.
Go on a “Pretend-You’re-a-Tourist” date. Look around your city and do the things a tourist might do.
Curl up for an evening of reading. Find a book you both enjoy and take turns reading to each other, or each of you can read your own book in each other’s company.
Prepare a cup of coffee or tea, and share your favorite Bible passages with each other. After all, the Bible is the greatest love story ever told!
If you decide to have your date during dinner, you might consider talking about your love story. On this date, either in a restaurant or at your dining table, enjoy the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. Here are some questions that can help you and your spouse jump into the subject:
Enjoying the Past: You may talk about the first time you saw each other, your first date, first kiss, favorite dates, when you got engaged, wedding day, honeymoon, or your most romantic moments.
Celebrating the Present: Talk about what you like the most about each other, the best thing that happened in your lives in the past six months, or any exciting new information you have.
Looking Forward: Talk about your dreams, goals, and some fun things you can do to build memories in the future.
The most important ingredient for a successful date night is a positive attitude! Being creative also helps. The Internet is full of ideas that you can tailor to your unique relationship. Investing time in our marriage, even in the smallest of ways, strengthens the conjugal bond and helps us be true reflections of God’s unending love.
Mario and Paola Martinez are Marriage Initiative Special Project Coordinators for the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.