Years ago, I shared a memorable conversation with Catholic author Taylor Marshall while we both worked at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. Taylor told me about some advice that, in his words, an “old, crusty Episcopalian priest” had given him shortly before his wedding: “The keys to a good marriage are threefold: to share at least one meal a day, go to bed at the same time every night, and sit in the same pew on Sunday.” If we look closely at each of these pieces of advice, we can find profound insight.
Share at least one meal a day.
It is important always to foster a deeper fellowship with your spouse. Think of how many conversations we’ve had over dinner or lunch. How many times have we laughed at a good joke, or got in heated debates over newsworthy topics? Meal time offers a daily opportunity to connect with your wife’s thoughts and ideas and she with yours. If children are around, breakfast time may be better for a quieter conversation. The important thing is that this shared meal, maybe even the preparation of food, can be enjoyed as shared quality time and encourage thoughtful conversations.
Go to bed at the same time every night.
This piece of advice goes to the heart of marriage: on your wedding day, husband and wife vow to be faithful. Marital infidelity strikes a crushing blow to family life. It hurts our spouse, our children and ourselves. Sexual exclusiveness and faithfulness are what separates our marital relationship from any other.
We can enjoy a meal with coworkers, we can worship God alongside our neighbors; however, we’re only permitted to share a bed with one person – our spouse. Even beyond sexual intimacy, going to bed at the same time promotes harmony in the marriage. It symbolizes that the two of you have reached the end of yet another day together, a moment to reflect on the good, bad and absurd.
There are countless reasons for going to bed at different times, but rarely are they any good. If it’s work that keeps you up, perhaps starting early in the morning will give you a fresher, more efficient brain. If you stay up for online shopping, updating Facebook, or Internet porn, all the more reason to go to bed with your spouse.
Sit in the same pew on Sundays.
Through common worship, couples continue to deepen their relationship with God and with each other. In Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s classic Three to Get Married, he emphasized that Jesus Christ is at the center of every successful and loving marriage. As Catholics, we believe it was Jesus who gave us our marriage vocation, and it is Jesus who best knows how to keep it flourishing. Attending Sunday Mass together is a weekly reminder that Jesus comes first, and that his sacrifice on the cross serves as the standard for marital love: laying down our lives in loving service to God and our spouse.
These three bits of wisdom provide, quick practical reminders, that are not only profoundly effective but rich in meaning. It may not surprise you that I learned about them over a mealtime chat. Thank you, Taylor.
Reprinted with permission from FathersForGood.org.