How often I had thought that way about so many things.
When I was younger and single, all I had to worry about was me. But then… I met this amazing young woman, and all that changed. And the truth is, I was happy to have my life revolve around her.
She was beautiful, funny, vivacious. All I wanted was to be with her and to be around her. Three years later we were married, and life began to happen. Career, house, kids, parents, in-laws all started to come more and more into play.
As a person of faith, I knew to pray, and I did so regularly – for all kinds of things, and at all times. It was my refuge and my solace. Really, it was the one thing I had for myself.
Everything else was for or about someone else. All the time. I got the point where I was making jokes like, “How do you spell dad at my house?” People would shrug, and I’d answer…” A…T…M.” All that I had and all that I did was for them, and in many ways I felt like a walking paycheck.
Sometime into our marriage, my wife asked me to pray with her. The sad truth is that I resented her asking because prayer was the only thing that I had for myself. “Teach me to pray,” she would ask, “because I don’t know how.” Resentment got the better of me. The truth is that I was being selfish.
As time wore on, we began drifting apart. Two and three jobs kept (and still keep) me out many nights. She works different hours than I do, and we became like ships that pass in the night.
It was like we had become intimate roommates that were growing further and further apart. We tried counselling. That failed miserably. Our counsellor actually fired us as a couple.
We were at each other constantly – honestly over nothing big at all most times.
Then, I began reading the writings of St. John Paul II in regards to something he called the spousal meaning of the body and of spousal love. What he was talking about was the idea that man and woman were made by God to experience God’s love through each other. And that the way to love each other was to give one’s self totally to the other person.
What a concept!
Giving one’s self totally to the other…
That got me thinking.
Yes, I had gone there freely, but was I living my married life without reservation? I was forced to say, “No.” I was holding back on many things:
I had become so focused on being a good provider that I had failed to be a good husband. So, I asked God to give me the courage to figure out what I needed to do.
The answer came quickly and plainly – Pray.
I am. – I answered God, and I thought I heard him laugh at me.
And again an answer came – Not just for her, with her.
So I got up one morning, walked around the bed, and said, “I know this has been a long time in coming, but can I pray with you?” She shrugged, “I guess so.”
I wrapped my arms around her and simply began by thanking God for the new day, for her, and for her love. She followed, often simply repeating what I had said, and as we prayed a comfort and warmth began to envelop us. We kissed and went on our way.
When I got home that night, she was there with a smile and a sparkle in her eyes that had not been there in quite some time. And we simply sat quietly enjoying each other’s presence.
Not a morning passes now that we do not leave the house without embracing each other as we pray, embracing each other in prayer and with prayer. This I can say, it has made all the difference in our marriage already.
Praying with my wife has taught me that we now share an intimacy that goes beyond anything that we ever had before. I am free to be me with her – not just an ATM. I can give myself totally to her – not just the good stuff, but all of it.
As a result of prayer together, we are growing together again. While I have always loved my wife, I know that through this I have fallen back in love with her. And when I told her that, with tear filled eyes, she looked up at me and said, “Me too.”
If you really want your marriage to thrive, don’t just pray for each other – although that is certainly something you must do. Pray with each other. Intimacy with each other in God’s presence is amazing. It has opened my eyes, my ears, and my heart to what Janet is really thinking and feeling. As we pray I can feel her relax into my arms in safety and comfort, the same safety and comfort that I feel as I am enfolded in God’s loving presence, as we are enfolded in God’s loving presence.
The author of love, God, invites us by his grace to be in relationship with him through faith and to communicate with him in prayer. I am so grateful that He challenged me by calling the two of us to pray with and for each other. It has made all the difference for us.
He is calling you to take your husband or wife by the hand, to enfold each other in your arms and feel His loving embrace. Give prayer a chance in your marriage. You will be amazed at what happens!