You say your marriage needs a boost; everyone tells you to go on a date night as if date nights are the cure-all for every marital slump. About half of my date nights are great, and about half of them we end up overspending on food we are too tired to enjoy, dish out extra money to the babysitter, and get to bed later than desired, perpetuating the cycle of being worn-out and worn-down parents/partners the next morning.
Here is an alternative … when your marriage needs some extra TLC focus on providing your spouse with acts of generosity, gentleness, and service instead by bringing the Works of Mercy home and into the center of your marriage. If you’re like me you often look for opportunities of serve outside of your home. But within the home, perhaps you try (and fall short) repeatedly to be more patient with and loving towards your spouse. Most of us have never created an action plan to better serve our spouse. Having a specific plan can help make sure we achieve our goal of being more service oriented in our marriage. It is in giving that we receive, and I guarantee that if you focus on serving your spouse more intentionally, you will see abundant growth and fruitfulness in your marriage.
Saint Mother Teresa said, “We are commanded to love God and our neighbor equally, without difference. We don’t have to look for the opportunities to fill this command, they’re all around us, twenty-four hours a day. You must open your eyes wide so that you can see the opportunities to give wholehearted, free service right were you are, in your family. If you don’t give such service in your family, you will not be able to give it to those outside your home.”
Do you feel that your spouse is currently undeserving of your acts of service? All the more reason to serve him or her wholeheartedly. This is what Jesus would command you to do.
In this Year of Mercy, why don’t you create your own Summer of Mercy for your marriage? Here are some ideas that could really revamp your marriage this summer based on the Corporal Works of Mercy. Try focusing on two ideas each week for the next month:
Feed the Hungry:
I have adequate time: Make his favorite dinner and dessert from scratch.
I have very little time: Pack his lunch for work one morning.
Give Drink to the Thirsty:
I have adequate time: Spend a weekend ‘filling her cup’ … when her coffee, water, or wine runs dry, fill her glass up without asking, well before she goes to do it herself.
I have very little time: Give her a $5 coffee shop card.
Shelter the Homeless:
I have adequate time: What is making your spouse feel ‘displaced’ in his own home at the moment? Lack of cleanliness, organization, or free time? Give him the gift of feeling more ‘at home’ by taking over an organizational project or giving him a few hours of free time.
I have very little time: Give him one hour alone at home to take care of something that’s been nagging at him.
Clothe the Naked:
I have adequate time: Do all the laundry for her – wash, dry, fold and put away every item in the laundry room. Wash all the sheets and towels in the house. Make all the beds and hang the fresh towels.
I have very little time: Give her a gift card to her favorite clothing store and offer to take a load of clothes to the local donation center.
Visit the Imprisoned:
I have adequate time: We all feel imprisoned by something at times. What is keeping your spouse ‘prisoner’? An overbearing workload? An addiction? Try offering an alternative to their imprisonment, like a massage, time for a hike, or an hour to spend in Adoration.
I have very little time: Ask about his dilemma and really listen. Set aside 15 minutes to offer solace in his time of trial by genuinely listening, and if asked, by offering advice.
Bury the Dead:
I have adequate time: Go the gravesite of someone she loved who has died. Clean the gravestone and clip away the overgrown grass. Leave fresh flowers there. Invite her to come along if she has the time, or surprise her with a photo from your visit.
I have very little time: Call your parish and have a Mass said for someone she loved who has died. Try to schedule this on a day/time she can be present for the Mass if she chooses.
Visit the Sick:
I have adequate time: Your husband may not be sick this month, but maybe he’s very tired. Offer him a weekend to go to bed early each night and sleep in the next day. Take care of the kids so he can truly rest and rejuvenate his body.
I have very little time: Offer him one morning to sleep in or one evening to go to bed early.