My husband and I have been teaching PreCana for ten years and doing Marriage Coaching and Conferences for many years as well. Through this experience, we have streamlined a few steps that can help make good marriages better and struggling marriages heal.
1/ Pick a Saturday afternoon to devote to your marriage and not just to work, house stuff or even the children. This is often harder than it seems, but to work on marriage, it must be made a priority of the couple. Too often this only happens when there is a crisis in the relationship. Here is the order of priority God, marriage, children, other family, work…
2/ Start by arranging child care if necessary (although we have been able to adjust this plan and work around our kids when absolutely necessary). Last weekend, hubby and I went out to dinner and I was again surprised at how, even after loving each other for 25 years, we still have so many things to talk about and share when we are just away from the noise and confusion of daily life.
3/ Go to Confession! Most Parishes offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation around 3:00 or 4:00pm on Saturdays. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your sins, your spirit of sin (for example: a spirit of pride, a spirit of control), and do a thorough examination of conscience. Look one up on your phone if necessary. Really think about the ways you injure your relationship with God and others. Spirituality isn’t a list of rules, but rather a true look at relationship with God and a desire to reconcile with Him, your spouse and any one else you have injured.
4/ Spend ten minutes with your spouse in front of the Blessed Sacrament in silence. Open your heart to what God wants to whisper into it. Don’t talk to each other, but holding hands is okay if you feel moved to do so.
5/ Go to Saturday evening Mass together.
6/ Go out to dinner. (If you absolutely cannot get childcare, get some special takeout for just the two of you… the kids are happy with mac-n-cheese or hot dogs…put the kids to bed, or put on a movie so that you can eat quietly together.) Focus on each other. Talk about what you would like life to look like in five or ten years. What do you feel the purpose for your lives is? Discuss…
7/ Pray together for all that is in your heart, ask God for the extra grace that comes from the Sacrament of Matrimony, then pray to fully embrace the unitive properties of your marital embrace and that it will be a fulfilling experience for both of you. If you didn’t get all that, I just told you to…
8/ Make love! Not have sex, make real love to your spouse. Focus on them completely. Making them happy, showing them they are love. You will be surprised at how healing this can be when prepared for by the other Sacraments. The marital embrace is a renewal of your marriage vows (Sacrament of Matrimony) with your body.
Be assured of my prayers for your marriage too. The goal is to repeat these steps at least once a month and if possible, go away together every six months when you practice this. You will see the grace in your marriage grow daily. God bless!