... and the solutions I've adopted to help me work through them.
My husband and I have two years of marriage under our belts. We married not long after graduating from college. We are enthusiastically Catholic and most definitely millennials. That word “millennial” has a lot of baggage attached to it, but it’s a decent descriptor to convey the particular blessings and challenges we encounter.
For example, we spend our evenings deciding whether to watch Amazon Prime when the baby goes to bed, or de-screen and play one of our growing collection of two-person board games. One of our favorite in-home date nights is laughing out loud at memes on Instagram together. My husband is a student, working on his Master’s degree (and is quite the anomaly as he’s the youngest in his class and has a child), while I work full-time from home. Depending on class schedules and work loads, we take turns being the parent on duty with our son.
I’ve noticed three big struggles we face as young married Catholics in our marriage, and I’ve been reflecting on how we’re facing those struggles and conquering them …
First off, a constant conversation we have is how to balance screen time with non-screen time. Add to this the fact that we have a kid, and we don’t want him to be glued to a screen for his whole childhood. How do we balance the need for screens (for work, school, communication, social time) with the need for real, in-person, together time? We try strategies to find a good balance, and it is ever-changing, depending on the time of life we’re in at the moment. For right now, we share one smartphone to cut down on distractions; we intentionally limit the social media sites we use and share articles we find as topics for conversation; we put away phones and screens for meals; and we read books together in the evening.
Secondly, I’ve found that getting plugged into a community is hard, but worth it. When our next-door neighbors had a baby a few months after we did, I summoned the courage to bring them a meal. I get very nervous about bringing meals to people unexpectedly. (What if they’re gluten-free, or can’t eat dairy? What if I come over at an inconvenient time?) But you know what? It turned out fine. And now our babies play together in the hallway of our apartment complex.
We also joined a couples’ Bible study at our parish, which was a little awkward for a while as no one in the group knew each other. But that group has now become a huge blessing in our lives in so many ways. I realize the more that my husband and I reach out to others, be it to say hi, invite someone over for dinner, or just offer to help with something, the more we grow and are blessed by others.
Finally, we really want to create a life at home that allows our family to grow in our faith together. Our little one attempts to make the sign of the cross when we pray together at meals and bedtime. We have a little shelf with some pictures of saints and statue of Mary, as well as a crucifix near our son’s bed. The book The Little Oratory has some great tips on how to make your home a place of peace and faith by how you decorate it. And there’s even a service now called Catholic Family Crate that you can sign up for, and they deliver boxes with Catholic activities, books, prayers and more to do with your kids at home throughout the year. We’ve also started trying to keep Sunday holy by making time to hike or going on a walk and picnic all together to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. In the way we decorate, the way we make time to pray, and even the activities we do, I’m finding baby steps that will hopefully allow us all to grow in our faith at home.
Millennials have been accused of avoiding or being unable to create community, of being too focused on technology, and of falling away from the faith. And I’ve noticed these struggles in myself and in my marriage. But it is possible to overcome them! If you have found things that work in your home, I’m all ears — tell me!