How to Strengthen Marriage, Family
United States Marks National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14
By Father Jeremy Trowbridge, Spiritual Director of the Life and Family Evangelization Office
February 2, 2023
There is a trend on social media, specifically Facebook, where a husband or wife will write a public note celebrating their spouse or child on their birthday. These notes are extremely meaningful, loving, supportive and celebratory. These beautiful words are usually accompanied by a collage of pictures showing the various years or stages of life. With all of the questionable material that is online, it is invigorating to read these posts and to share in the joy of this family!
This trend is also embraced when remembering and celebrating a wedding anniversary. One of the more endearing elements of this trend and the marriages which it celebrates is the posting of the original wedding photo. Depending on what generation our happy couple was married in, the photo permits a bit of fashion entertainment. What is so special, though, is the message that one spouse writes to another, something very thoughtful, grateful, playful, positive, faithful and loving. These notes can be quite powerful and what they reveal is so genuine that it lifts up and supports the relationship of marriage.
As Catholics we strive to project a positive witness for marriage and family life. This is part of our culture of faith, we want to encourage spouses and parents in the noble nature of their vocation. We understand first-hand the demands of family life. We know that when we lose our focus, selfishness and blame enter very quickly. Because we know this, we strive to remain aware of ourselves and the members of our family so that we can live and love in harmony and in the truth of our faith. This is much easier said than done. 
Although  we do know that it is possible. So what is our approach to strengthening our family life? How can we make adjustments so that the chaos of the home becomes more orderly? The answer to these questions draws us to an important word: identity.
Who are we? What are we called to do? How do we arrange our tasks responsibly? 
Within the family we remember that the marriage relationship of husband and wife is the foundation and the lives of our children build upon the union of mother and father. Spoken another way, marriage is the rock upon which the family is built. If life is wild and you and your spouse utilize a “divide and conquer” approach to accomplish the many demands of your day, make sure you have time to invest into your unity. Your unity is not just achieved by your own effort; leverage the strength of your sacramental marriage and turn to God together, in prayer at home, by prioritizing Mass on Sunday, seeking our Lord’s strength in the Eucharist. Move in the directions that correspond with your sacramental identity and remember our highest goal is to be present to your spouse in such a manner as to assist them on their journey to heaven. These are a few ways to set your focus in a spousal manner, but what about the family at large?
When husband and wife have their focus clarified for and with one another, then they are united in such a manner as to approach their responsibilities as parents. Our children are a blessing from God and we are the ones to teach them about life and eternity. How can we engage them, guide them, support them, challenge them so that they are responsible in this life and never forget that they were created for heaven? Parents can give this wisdom when they have cultivated it first in their own life 
and marriage. 
I recall a husband complimenting his wife because she was taking the time to explain a few life lessons around the house to their high school boys. Dad said, “Thanks for taking this time to help our boys, it will help them to be good men.” Mom responded, “I am not doing this so that they become good men, I’m taking this time so that they become good husbands!” These were proper words for the moment and formative words for every person in their family. 
As we celebrate the blessing of marriage this week, let us pray for all married couples and those who are preparing for it, that the vows which united them on their wedding day remain fresh in their hearts and that the Lord who sustains them fill them with every blessing!
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