Husband & Wife Articles


 

No Better Gift

The couple that prays together, stays together

By Teresa Tomeo

There are only a few days left until Christmas and you’re still stumped on what to give to your husband or wife. Maybe that long-awaited weekend away for just the two of you? Maybe a gift certificate to his or her favorite restaurant? Those are nice ideas but wouldn’t it be great if we could give something that would last for more than a few hours or days? How about something that could make a positive and powerful impact on your marriage?

One of the best gifts my husband and I ever gave each other, from which we still benefit greatly, was the gift of couple prayer. Most Catholics are familiar with the saying made famous by the much loved priest Father Patrick Peyton, who founded the Family Rosary Crusade movement: “The family that prays together stays together.” Well, Father Peyton was right about family prayer, so it would naturally follow that couple prayer strengthens marriages also. What married couple living in today’s increasing secular society couldn’t use a little spiritual toning and strengthening?

We actually heard about couple prayer, and more specifically something called the Couple Prayer series, through a dear friend of ours, Deacon Bob Ovies in the Archdiocese of Detroit. My husband and I came to know Deacon Bob and his wife Kathy through Marriage Encounter. After we did our own Encounter weekend many years ago, we wanted to give back and began to help promote and serve as emcees for Marriage Encounter events locally, and also help with the annual World Marriage Day dinner held each year. Bob and Kathy were featured as keynote speakers at one of those dinners a few years back and their topic focused on prayer in their marriage. Their talk was recorded and copies of their presentation were so popular that the Ovies decided to create a special prayer series, Together with Jesus Couple Prayer.

My husband and I attended one of their first six-week courses held at Deacon Bob’s home parish. I think what we loved most about the program was the approach of helping each couple find their own unique way to pray. While some couples may choose the more formalized prayers of the Church such as the rosary, others may choose more of a dialogue style of prayer. The important thing is that this couple prayer program helps you get started and gives you some solid guidelines. The style of prayer for me and my husband has developed into a variety of practices. The most frequent is use of a Catholic devotional to share the daily Mass readings and reflections. We do this every morning and it makes a huge difference in the tone of our day. This has had a major ripple effect leading to a wonderful comfort level in talking about what’s on our hearts in terms of our faith and relationship with God. It has definitely brought us closer to each other and to Jesus and his Church.

Another old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.” There is growing evidence of the positive effect praying together as a couple has on marriage. According to the book Couples Who Pray by Squire Rushnell and Louis DuArt, virtually every one of the categories measuring marital bliss escalated significantly when couples simply prayed together frequently. A national study by the Retrouvaille ministry that works with troubled marriages, found couples who attend church together weekly and read the Bible or pray daily have a divorce rate of approximately one in every 1,105 marriages. How is that for a guarantee? If attending a prayer series isn’t appealing or a suggestion you feel might meet with some resistance from your spouse, why not start by reading the Bible together? There are many good Catholic devotionals out there such as the Magnificat or Word Among Us

There is no reason why you can’t put the idea in the form of a present to be opened on Christmas morning. Why not write a brief note mentioning your desire to pray regularly with your spouse? Take that note and wrap it up in a beautiful beautiful box or envelope enclosed maybe with your favorite prayer or holy card.

While the most romantic eatery or the most exclusive hotel in town might result in some nice memories, they can’t provide the lasting results, and eternal, effects of prayer together. Happy praying and Merry Christmas!

Teresa Tomeo is a Catholic mother, author and radio host whose latest book is Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture. Her website is TeresaTomeo.com