Four Ways to Be a Better Spouse

Here we go again, with an article borrowed from Huffington Post.  This one has a semi-Buddhist flavor to it, which is a switch from our usual fare.  Unfortunately for you, this fact reminds me of the only Buddhist joke I know, in which the Buddhist says to the hot dog vendor on the streets of New York, “Make me one with everything.”  Wait for it…  Anyway, since the article refers to I Corinthians, I thought it would fit in our blog.

PsychiatristBrandy Engler is a clinical psychologist and the author of The Men on My Couch: Stories of Sex, Love and Psychotherapy.  Her recent post, “Four Ways to Love Better” visits a recurring theme on this blog, namely, rather than seeking the right partner, we should BE the right partner for our spouse.  As most people married more than once will attest, in the absence of abuse–physical, mental, drug–the grass is rarely greener on the other side. We bring most of our relationship problems with us; if we’re capable of cheating on one spouse, we’re obviously capable of cheating on another, etc.

Engler does not specifically address marital love in this post; rather, she points us toward a wider, more inclusive love of the world and the people in it.  This is a very Christian attitude from a writer who strikes me as not overly, or overtly, Christian.  But by inference, we are to include our spouses in this view.  And if you can guess her four prescriptions for being a more loving person, well, you’re better at this stuff than I am.  YOU should be posting on this blog.



Make Your Marriage a (good) Habit

Posted by Christine Burrows

Peter and I have been married for 22 years. Our mothers introduced us when I was 15 and he was 16. We were each others’ first loves.

When he left for college, we wrote letters to one another every day. We got to see one another about once a month, and were always elated to be in one another’s company, putting our best forward for our short times together.  Through our visits and our letters, we supported one another through the transitions from home to college, from teen to adult. Although we didn’t make a straight shot from high school to marriage (with more than a few break-ups in between), we finally decided to marry in June of 1990 while attending one of 16 friends’ weddings that year. Four months later, on October 26, 1990, we got married.

The first year of marriage was hard. We had some financial stresses right away, and, quite honestly, I was feeling anxious about the “foreverness” of marriage. I wanted to fall in love again. I would say we were pretty near to calling it quits between our first and second anniversaries. Nothing else explains why we didn’t, other than that God had plans for us, Imageand He shed his loving grace upon us. We recommitted to one another and got pregnant with our first child right around our second anniversary. From that moment on, we have been intensely aware of God’s grace in our marriage. We have been lucky – 4 well-adjusted kids, relatively few financial strains, good health, and almost 100% shared values. Some might consider ours an easy marriage – now.

And then there’s my sister. I won’t air her laundry, but her marriage isn’t as easy as mine. She and her husband seem to wrestle with more conflicts than Peter and I do. But we are both challenged to build strong marriages. She and her husband have to recover from conflicts and move forward. Peter and I have to find ways to not become bored or fail to challenge ourselves to be better individuals and partners. In the end, we all have to create the good habit of being married.

Think about some good habits: giving to charity, exercising, eating healthfully, praying, being on time, etc. While these are all terrific, they can sometimes fall by the wayside because we get lazy. Being a good spouse is a habit we must train ourselves in, and this takes discipline, among other things. We can’t let ourselves become flooded by the tide of stuff that comes up, or because we are simply tired. Intimate emotional connections need tending.

Some of the things you and your spouse did when you were courting might come in handy Imagenow – writing letters and poems to one another, going on dates, affirming one another, actively trying to bring joy to the other, doing kind deeds, supporting one another through transitions, etc. Doing these things, establishing and practicing positive habits within marriage, can become the routine if we stay on top of them.

A T-Shirt with Many Memories

[You’re getting the cliff note version of this story :-)]
It was May 2001 and Sarah was finishing up her finals for her second year of law school. I, on the other hand, was busy planning something special.

I was hoping for a warm and sunny Saturday but it was chilly and rainy so I had to revert to my Plan B. I called Sarah and told her I was going to stop by her apartment and was taking her out to a fancy brunch at the Hancock Building in Chicago. We dressed up and had a nice brunch looking out to the overcast skyline of Chicago. After brunch I informed Sarah that I had a day full of plans for us and as we left the Hancock there was a limo waiting for us. Because it was pouring rain we ran to the limo and I got soaked (Sarah had on a coat). As we got into the limo my plan so far was working brilliantly because I told Sarah that I had to take my shirt off because it was soaked. Then, Sarah looked at me and I had this T-Shirt on as I got on one knee:

and over 11 years the T-shirt still gets warn by me…often.

Today, as I got dressed for church, I needed a white T-shirt and pulled out my favorite one. So I thought about this $7 T-shirt and where Sarah and I are today. This T-shirt has a few holes, “bacon collar” and has gotten sewed back together several times. At times, and not thinking anything of it, I have left the house with this T-shirt on and Sarah would chuckle wondering if I ran into anyone else named “Sarah” at the store.

This T-shirt brings back a lot of wonderful memories. Each time I put it on I think of that May Saturday in 2001. The shirt is over 11 years old and looking back Sarah and I were young, in-love and ready to take on the next stage of our life – together. We had no clue what was in store for us but I gotta say that we are quite blessed. On that Sunday after we got engaged as Sarah and I left Mass we agreed that our faith will be the center of our marriage….and here we are.

Sarah, if you happen to read this blog can you please let me know what you did with all my other old t-shirts? I know all my high school and college shirts are somewhere….but I’m glad you kept this one in the closet.