A look back on 2022 at what helped me live my vocation to marriage better.
I love reading content about marriage. Books, podcasts, blog posts, transcripts of wedding homilies … you name it. But, I try not to stop at just consuming relationship content; I really try to incorporate some of it into my life. Here are my biggest takeaways from my marriage reading in 2022, along with how implementing those takeaways has gone.
Boundaries in Marriage book
This was a painful read. I got it from the library to check out because it had stirred up some discussion in my women’s group, thinking, “Ah, I can peruse this in a detached and academic manner to glean some generic insight into marriage.” Instead, I cringed as I identified myself in its pages over and over again, finding many ways I was failing to love my spouse well.
After reading it, I made a list of 11 very concrete ways I hurt him regularly with my actions and reactions. And then made a list of how to change some of those habits. Am I failing to love him in those exact same ways from the list to this day? Yes. But, I have crossed a couple of them off the list completely, and now when I do most of the others I realize “shoot, that was wrong” whereas before I wouldn’t have given it much thought. Do I wish I had done this kind of overhaul of my actions earlier in my marriage? Oh yes. So, I definitely recommend it, just be ready for a punch in the gut if you haven’t done much reflecting on this before.
Restore the Glory podcasts on marriage
Two Catholic therapists give advice on building a better marriage in five episodes, and then give advice on approaching conflict in marriage in several episodes. One big takeaway from these episodes on marriage was a realization of some places I am not willing to trust my husband. I was able to pinpoint what triggers me to shut down and want to walk away from a conversation, which gave me a way to start responding more maturely by engaging even though I feel threatened.
I also realized how good it is to pray through our marriage vows regularly. And I recognized that I have a bad habit of ignoring or dismissing my husband’s hobbies because they don’t interest me. Instead of leaving him to his interests, I need to show some attention to what captivates him. It may not be a genuine interest on my part at first, but if I care about him, the interest can grow.
Content from Adam Lane Smith
My husband actually discovered the attachment specialist Adam Lane Smith while listening to a podcast that featured Adam as a guest, and he started sending me some of his tweets and quotes (knowing that marriage and relationship content is one of my love languages), so I checked out his blog. He has recently re-done his website, so I can’t give you the links of the articles I read. But, I really appreciated his comments on the differences between men and women, and how to grow emotional intimacy in a relationship.
For example, because of Smith’s posts, we were able to put names to what makes us feel connected to each other. My husband feels closer to me after we have figured out something together—anything from resolving a conflict to working on a puzzle to fixing our leaking tub faucet together. I feel more connected after I’ve shared about what happened in my day, and offloaded some of the logistical planning in my head by discussing it together.
This knowledge becomes quite practical in planning a date, for example. If we spend some time puzzling or escape rooming, or even just getting materials for a household project together, and include some time sharing what is going on in our lives, we both walk away feeling connected.