Quick Marriage Boost!

+JMJ+

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to go on a self-directed, self-designed marriage retreat.  We packed up our things, dropped our baby off (only one?!) and headed off to a hotel for the weekend, just the two of us. We didn’t have a specific “program” we used to design the retreat: just our old marriage prep materials and a lot of know-how I gained during my years of Campus Ministry work.

I’ve been thinking that five years later, we are WAY overdue for another retreat. But in looking at planning another one, I dug up some material I thought I would pass along for all you married folks who are looking for A Fun Thing to Do This Friday Night (that doesn’t require a babysitter).

My favorite exercise from the retreat was something I accurately, but not-so-elegantly called a “Charism Discussion.”

What is a charism? In short: your charisms are the special gifts God gives you to fulfill your role in the Church, which includes your married vocation. They are things that you naturally enjoy or are good at, which can be strengthened through grace.

So how does this discussion work? There aren’t any hard and fast rules you have to follow, but a simple template is this:

First

Sit down with your spouse and each make a list of what you think your charisms are. These don’t have to be lofty, religious gifts like Prophecy or Speaking in Tongues. Rather, think about the little ways God has gifted you. Are you a good listener? Do you have the gift of music? Are you good with budgeting? Are you tidy and organized?

Second

Talk about how you are currently using each one of these gifts in your parish, work, and family life. Are there some gifts that are under-utilized, or some that you’d like to develop more? Are there some things you thought you were good at, but you’re having a hard time with right now? Be sure to cover EVERYTHING on the list!

Third

Tell your spouse what gifts YOU see in them, affirming their own list but adding things they didn’t mention. Often times, the gifts and talents which are most obvious in other people are the ones they fail to see in themselves.  By way of example, I told my husband how much I loved the fact that he was a reliable, trustworthy Doer. I’m a Planner and an Organizer, but he is one of those people who takes a plan and makes it happen. He doesn’t mind working behind the scenes to ensure that My Plan goes off without a hitch. I’ve seen time and time again how this helps our marriage, but it also contributes to his work and especially our ministries in the parish. When I said all this, he looked at me quizzically and said, “Huh, I always sort of thought of that as an absence of something else, rather than something positive in itself.” The two goals of this particular stage are: 1) affirmation and 2) seeing yourself through your Beloved’s eyes {which is Oh So Fun!}

Fourth

Get practical. Now that everyone’s gifts are on the table, figure out what you can do to strengthen one another. You’ll want to focus on gifts that are most important and work your way down. Try to find gifts that overlap or compliment each other– this could be a clue about how God wants you to use them together. And just make a plan: challenge each other to try out some new things, or revisit some old ones.

In short: have fun talking about how God works through you and your spouse! How often do you get to just gush about how great each of you are?

I’ve got a post coming up in the next few weeks on Waltzing in Beauty, as part of Christina’s ‘The Shape of Our Homes’ series. There, I talk about a similar exercise my husband and I did to compose a Family Rule of Prayer.  I’ll post back here when it’s published; in the meantime, I hope this gives you a quick idea for a marriage boost!

Oh- and just one more tip: unlike Zumba, this exercise is best done with a glass of wine.

One of our shared charisms? Couples costumes. Definitely a gift. Only sort of kidding.
(EVE and WALL-E, Meghan Trainor is All About That Bass, and Dr. Dre with M&M)

 

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