Being a husband is to participate in one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is a holy calling from God to be undertaken with the same seriousness regarding your vows as would be expected of any religious. When you married, you committed yourself to a lifetime of servitude to your spouse – service which can be an unending font of joy, love, and support; and they made the same commitment to you. If you cannot love and serve another human selflessly, how can you possibly expect to be able to love and serve God joyfully for all eternity.
A wife is a gift from God to be loved, cherished, nurtured, and encouraged to grow. She has the same obligation to you, but you have to throw your scorecard out the window before you can make any real progress towards having the relationship feel blessedly conjoined.
Here are a few guidelines, that when followed, will provide the necessary environment for the formation of the relationship both of you deserve. They apply equally to husband or wife, but focus on your actions and have patience as change and trust take time.
1. Place the wants and needs of your spouse ahead of your own – always and in all things. This requires and builds trust, and when reciprocated by your spouse is the basis of a holy marriage.
2. Keep no secrets from your spouse. This means no deleting your text messages, having secret email accounts, refusing to let them see or use your computer, not telling them what happened at work, not admitting or sharing how you really feel, etc… Trust requires openness and honesty in all things.
3. Share everything. Nothing you have is more important than she is. Never let her have an occasion to feel otherwise. No hidden bank accounts, no fiscal separation, no his and hers – only “ours”. This applies to your bodies as well as your feelings and possessions. Your spouse can never feel like the most important element of your existence if you place any possession before them, or deny them when an accommodation is possible (even when reciprocation or mutual satisfaction is not).
4. Communicate. Tell them that you love them any chance you get. Our existence is brief and uncertain, but they should never feel that about your love for them. Communication is a two way process, listen and take an honest interest – you must understand your spouse to serve them, and to understand them you must not only listen, but create an environment wherein they are comfortable expressing themselves honestly to you. This means exercising appropriate restraint and reserving judgement always. No matter how something sounds initially, hear the other person out and always assume the best, and give them the benefit of the doubt.
5. Work to build you spouse’s self-esteem. Think before you speak. Words wound more deeply than knives and all too often we can say things of great cruelty when things are emotionally charged and “I’m sorry” just does not undo the damage. Sharp words are like nails in a plank, you can remove the nails but the holes remain and the damage is not repaired by their removal. Some people mistakenly believe that they can control their spouse by making her feel unattractive or unworthy. This is wrong on so many levels and can only lead to imbalanced and damaged relationships. A loving partnership requires that two people are together because they want to be, that any submission to each is willing, voluntary, and not coerced. To have the stable and secure relationship you want it is important that your spouse always feels like they have a choice to be with you – and that it is a choice they would make again without hesitation. This means essentially that “control” is right out, a spouse acting out of a desire to please is always preferable to one acting out of fear. An emotionally secure and confident partner who feels well loved is far more resistant to distractions and temptations which could harm the marriage than one who is not. They should never feel that you or they “settled” when they said “I do”.
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