Marriage has its share of peaks and valleys. Here are 10 ways to rediscover your love and fall for him all over again. (Looking for Better Together, the 52-week marriage journal? You can find it here in the Catholic Mom Bundle).
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On our 15th anniversary, we woke up with a toddler in our bed.
The plan was to stay at a bed and breakfast: our first non-kid, not-in-the-hospital-having-another-one getaway in ten years. Two weeks prior, though, I realized the little guy would never make it through the night.
I canceled, and then our sitter for plan B fell through.
So on that morning, we woke up with a toddler in our armpits and an impending day at home with the kids. That night we had dinner courtesy of yours truly, and we were asleep by 9:15.
How’s that for anniversary romance?
Honestly, it was better than what had come before.
Three months earlier our marriage was in a slump. A silent refrain hung in the air between us, raining daggers of disappointment at a steady, stifled pace.
We loved one another. I’m not sure we were in love.
Our jobs were demanding; our children intense. Neither of us made time for the other; we were too busy keeping our heads above water. We quit praying together, and on the rare occasion I prayed alone, my requests were desperate and bleak.
Just get me through this awful day, Lord. Don’t let me lose my cool.
It’s not like we were teetering on the edge of divorce or anything, but we were definitely caught up in the business of life. I couldn’t help but wonder where the man I’d loved had gone.
Until I found him in a shoebox on a shelf at my mother-in-law’s.
It’s a blurry photo, and I noticed his brothers first. My eyes scanned the group until they fell on his smile, frozen in a barely perceptible curve of the lips. His eyes were hidden, squinting against the sun. But I knew that blueness all the same.
My face flushed. I looked away from the photo and stared out the window; I watched him and our youngest blowing bubbles on the back porch.
The man I had fallen in love with had been there all along.
Navigating the Valleys and Peaks
I knew marriage wasn’t easy. I was prepped for the good long haul. But when the tide started shifting and the current pulled me out, I kept it together for the sake of appearances.
All my friends had perfect marriages.
None of them felt disconnected and alone.
There must have been something wrong with me – with us.
I was too afraid to bring it up.
Thank God for the close friend who called me, frustrated by her own floundering marriage. She helped me see I wasn’t alone, and together we compiled a list of ten ways to fall back in love with our husbands.
10 Ways to Fall in Love with Your Husband
Look Through Old Photos
I’m not talking about the wedding album, though that will work in a pinch. Look through photos from the time you fell in love, the moment his heart captured yours. What drew you to him? How did you know he was the one? How has he fulfilled those promises within you, those spaces God carved in your soul?
Your husband has changed, and so, my dear, have you. But you have changed in such a way that you have grown together, in union with the plan God has set for your lives. Flipping through those photos will help you see the man he once was through the lens of the man he’s become.
Watch Him Play with the Kids
A good friend of ours is a contractor, and he’s done work for some family friends. One morning our contractor friend arrived and rang the bell. The husband answered, oblivious to the tiara perched atop his head. Our friend smiled, familiar with the plastic crown.
“Pretty Pretty Princess?”
“Yeah,” he deadpanned. “I’m losing.”
Men aren’t supposed to wear tiaras, but they do. They do it out of love for us and our children, for the God who has loaned us these creatures to hold. Our husbands take the kids out when they’d rather be reading; they read the same book five billion times. Watch the small things your husband does for your children.
The love that he shows them mirrors his love for you.
Record His Good Qualities in a Journal
When you find yourself concentrating on the things he does wrong, make a concerted effort to note the good. What does he do that makes you smile? How does help around the house? In what ways does he offer emotional support? Write down what you see and review it each night.
Read the Love Stories of the Saints
Marriage is a pathway to holiness, and nowhere is this more evident than the correspondence of married saints. Check out The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Saint Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla and Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Therese. Read them alone or together with your husband. Let the example of these holy couples bring your marriage closer to Christ.
Read Your Own Love Story, and Write One Anew
Dan and I wrote letters when we were first dating, a habit we continued until we had kids. Reading those words is like watching our love story, rediscovering the progression of our relationship over time. It usually encourages me to write him a new one, and we pick up the custom again for a while.
Your notes don’t have to poetry; they don’t have to be perfect or long. Just jot a quick “I love you” and tuck it in a lunchbox. It’s a beautiful way to renew conversation.
Fast from Social Media (and spend that time with him)
You are enough, and so is your husband. Don’t let a highlight reel make you question your marriage. Every time you are tempted to pick up your phone, turn to Better Together by Surprised by Marriage (currently available in the Catholic Mom Bundle). It’s 52 weeks of practical ideas for strengthening your marriage and opening lines of communication.
Schedule a Regular Sit-Down
Resentment breeds when you aren’t communicating. Make a concerted effort to sit down once a month and talk.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Need
My husband isn’t a mind reader, and it’s not fair for me to expect him to be. If something he’s doing (or not doing) is troubling, I need to let him know with charity and love.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Him the Same
Let him know you are interested in his thoughts, that you want to know his needs. You might be surprised what he tells you in return.
Get Help from an Expert
Find a Catholic counselor who works with couples, or see if your pastor provides spiritual counseling. If your marriage is in dire straits, consider Retrouvaille. There are nation-wide weekends several times a year.
Like any walk of faith, a marriage will have peaks and valleys.
The valleys are terrifying, but they are the moments in which Christ shapes and molds us into something far greater than what we were before. In its truest form, marriage is a habit, a refinement of the independent human will. Our experiences as a couple sanctify us, moving us closer to that perfect union with Christ and the Church.
So yes, on our 15th anniversary, we woke up with a toddler in our bed. We didn’t get our night away; we didn’t get to go out for dinner.
But I’m still in love with my husband, and he is still in love with me.
Beats the alternative, for sure.
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