In our marriage, Julie and I have noticed that unattended tension shows its ugly face in our morning routine. The stress of the day(s) before, including parenting disagreements, dealing with a hectic schedule, and not making enough time for the other can bubble over into the morning. That coupled with the rush to get ready and out the door can put us in a less-than-loving mood.
Conversations that require thoughtfulness and intention are had while lunch boxes are made and dogs are fed. Unfulfilled expectations, unspoken rules, and unchecked tones lead to greater tension. While we intend to communicate, we end up irking the other. As tension accumulates, frustration grows. Those moments expose our lack of emotional intelligence.
Every season of frustration in our marriage can usually be traced back to a lack of connection between us. And the lack of connection means poor communication and communion with as a couple. I'm sure we are not alone in this conundrum.
To address the lack of connection and the tensions that accumulate, Julie suggested using Lent to spend quality time together every day and to share our consolations (what brings us closer to God and each other) and desolations (what drives away from God and each other).
We titled this exercise “The Lenten Marriage Project” (LMP). The LMP is an intentional way to celebrate what gives us life and to work together to resolve conflict in a biblical way: talk, seek God’s help, repent, forgive, reconcile (and make amends), and move on together. It is a time to actively listen to the other, and, most importantly, a time to grow in awareness of the movements of our hearts and minds. It is an exercise to pay attention to what brings us joy, peace, and freedom, and what causes us anxiety, fear, and lack of freedom.
Healing in marriage does not begin with changing the other. It starts with becoming aware our ourselves. It is only with self-awareness that communication between a couple can lead to a stronger bond.
Loving and intentional conversations are life-giving. Words can hurt or heal. In our marriage, we want to choose life and healing every day. Conversations that came natural when dating have to become intentional when married. It is about choosing to affirm and uplift each other every day.
The Lenten Marriage Project is an exercise to detoxify our marriage – to intentionally recognize and identify those little everyday things that drive a wedge between us as well as those things that bring us closer together. It is a daily act of self-awareness to maximize the things that unite us and to rid ourselves of all that drives us apart. It is a time to notice how God is present to us in our everyday life – and to accept God’s loving invitation to love without counting the cost.
In this season of our marriage, we desire to make time for the other. We want to seek and find God in our marriage - together. We wish to let go of tension and hold onto love. We choose to practice communication that connects and that leads to greater communion with each other, with our son, with others, and with God.