Connect deeply in your marriage by being reckless

Emily Leedom, Director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, with her husband Matt in the Canadian Rockies.

Are we bored?

There we stood, on the grand staircase of what is affectionately called the “Castle of the Canadian Rockies.” We were coming to the end of five days, sans children, in perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Our careful watch of cheap flights had finally paid off and we committed to an adventure together.

Oh, what an adventure it was! But there, on the final day, in a castle of endless hallways, corners, restaurants and ballrooms, my husband asked the question and we knew the answer.

We were bored. Insert awkward silence.

Let me make one disclaimer before I say what I’m about to say. It’s good to be “off,” to simply rest and be. Spousal love, which imitates divine love, is intended to offer a safe place where we are most known, loved and accepted as we are. We need that. End disclaimer.

In the awkward silence that ensued, I experienced a deep conviction. I was being socially lazy.

Do you ever feel that? Perhaps at that Christmas party last month when you just didn’t feel like making the effort to chat?

But the conviction was clear and it came with a sting. As someone who takes pride in being highly intentional, I was being lazy in my marriage.

When we know someone so well, it can be easy to stop pursuing a newer and deeper understanding of them. We can fall into lazy habits, make assumptions and find ourselves being “off” when it is actually time to engage. We play it safe by staying comfortable because to engage usually requires vulnerability and effort.

But radical love isn’t safe. In fact, it’s a bit reckless. Radical love is unconcerned with personal consequences. It just gives itself away—freely and without fear.

Marriage requires us to lay down our lives for another, to endlessly pursue another—in good seasons and hard seasons.

“Marriage is a call to give oneself to one’s spouse as fully as Christ gave Himself to the Church.” (USCCB, Marriage: Love & Life in the Divine Plan)

In giving of ourselves this way, we begin to see Christ more clearly.

We hear in scripture of two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Scripture scholars offer good reason to believe that these two disciples were perhaps a married couple. A stranger approaches them and asks them what they’re discussing. Haven’t you heard what’s going on in the world? The stranger walks with them, breaks the bread and their eyes are opened to Christ in their midst.

But this isn’t the first time God walks with a married couple. At the beginning of time, He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Now, following the resurrection, He takes a walk with Cleopus and his wife. So, too, Jesus seeks to reveal Himself to couples today.

Marital love is an icon of God’s love for us. The more we are able to root our marriages in the sacrament, the more clearly we write the icon as a witness of God’s love to the world. The simple act of taking a walk or bike ride together, sharing a meal or making time for a weekend away together creates the space for Him to reveal Himself more deeply to us.

Amidst the ordinary chaos of life, it can be difficult to create that space for Him.

Last year, I fondly recall my husband and my worst date ever. It began with a broken car windshield, was sandwiched by a failed attempt to connect over bowling, and was bookended with a puking toddler when we got home. I laid in bed that night discouraged and asking God why this whole “dating your spouse thing” was so important. We were in a good season of marriage so why do the extra work?

Then came the gentle whisper. Cultivate the habits now for when the season changes, which it inevitably will.

Regardless of what season you may be in, Reckless: A Catholic Couples Conference is born out of our conviction that marriage matters. By authentically living out the vocation we have received, we become more authentically human and fully alive.

Chock-full of opportunities for prayer, laughter and romance, we hope to create the space for couples to connect more deeply, shake off some potential laziness and get a bit more reckless. Go to sfcatholic.org/couplesconference to learn more or register for the event.