Husband & Wife Articles


 

Best Friend or Faithful Foe?

This Lent, journey toward the cross with your spouse

By Darcie Nielsen

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.” (Sirach 6:14)

Lately, my husband and I have been exchanging the words, “You are my best friend!” It’s as if we are just starting to understand this after more than two years of marriage. We knew it in our minds, but now we are learning it in our hearts.

Marital friendship is a beautiful blessing. It goes back to Genesis when none of the animals proved to be suited for the man, so the Lord made a woman and brought her to him. Adam rejoiced, exclaiming, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh / This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” The biblical text continues, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:23-24).

Friendship comes naturally in marriage because of the closeness and oneness, but it must not be taken for granted but rather tended to and protected. Sometimes the routine of everyday life and the demands of work, children and maintaining a home can leave a husband and wife feeling like cohabitators living on parallel tracks instead of the same track. Especially in the face of difficulty and suffering, it can be hard to keep marital friendship alive.

My husband and I could still be considered newlyweds, although we have experienced so much in our short married life. From unemployment, to moving twice, to the sudden death of my husband’s father, and two new babies in the mix, our marriage and friendship certainly have gone through trials and purification. Yet the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony is the guaranteed infusion of God’s grace. We have been sustained by his grace and love. Our marriage and friendship have been strengthened and the love and trust have grown in leaps and bounds. As in Genesis, we have clung to each other. Christ is our rock; we trust that there is a resurrection after the crucifixion.

We need this same trust as we journey through Lent. We focus on our friendship with God, as we pray, fast and give alms to grow in deeper union with him, to be stripped of ourselves and grow in mercy. God gives us the opportunity to work on our friendship with him, by working on our friendship with others.

In marriage, that first friendship with another is our spouse. If we want to grow in love of God, we must grow in love with our spouse. If we want to grow in mercy, we must be merciful to our spouse. If we want to trust God more, we must trust our spouse more. If we want love in our life, it starts with looking at Jesus in our spouse. Blessed Mother Teresa put it so well: “We forget, sometimes, that we are called to give God’s love and compassion first to our families, those are the very life of our life.”

May this Lent be an opportunity to grow in friendship with our spouse. Friendship grows through time together – that is, undivided and undistracted attention to one another. It also grows by forgiving and asking for forgiveness. It grows in charity, through love, by both giving and receiving. Friendship grows in laughter and shared experiences. Our days are sprinkled with opportunities to grow in friendship with our spouse. Lent leads us toward Calvary, as we prepare for our weaknesses and sins to be nailed to the cross, but all the while we have the joyful expectation of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of Jesus. May our marital friendships experience a deeper conversion and new life this Lent and Easter.

Darcie Nielsen and her husband, Christian, live in Boston with their eighteen-month-old daughter. They are expecting their second child in August. Darcie blogs at mysoulproclaims.org.