“Love our Lady. And she will obtain for you abundant grace to conquer in your daily struggle.”
~ St. Josemaria Escriva
The Catholic Church has a long-standing tradition of dedicating the month of May to Our Blessed Lady. Just as Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, Christ’s birth through the Blessed Virgin Mary brought new life into the world. As you honour Mary during this time, perhaps you can reflect on how your relationship with Our Blessed Mother can bring new life to your marriage relationship.
If you look at the example of Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph’s relationship, you see how God connected with both of them individually through their faith in Him and in their Jewish religious practices. God chose to send St. Gabriel to see Mary at the Annunciation and to have an angel of the Lord speak to Joseph in a dream to reassure him about Mary’s pregnancy. God brought about His plan for Salvation through the joint cooperation of Mary and Joseph, and their faith in Him. If you look to their example, Mary and Joseph show us how, as a couple, you and your spouse can live your individual faith, yet also come together as a couple to pray and fulfil God’s plan for you in the joys and struggles of your lives.
Renowned marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman, emphasizes the importance of creating shared meaning in order to build healthy and secure relationships. “Dr. John Gottman suggests that couples create shared meaning through the use of rituals, roles, goals, and symbols” giving meaning and purpose to one’s marriage in a variety of ways. Taking up one of the Catholic Church’s many Marian devotions as a couple could be one way to develop shared meaning while growing in your faith and spiritual intimacy together.
Research has also shown that religious practice has a beneficial effect on marriage as it is “associated with lower levels of marital conflict, greater perceived spousal support, more consistent parenting, and less conflictual and more supportive relationships between adolescents and their parents.” Not only is religious practice helpful for growing in your relationship and faith in God, but it may help you grow closer to your spouse as well.
If you are looking to start turning to Our Blessed Mother for her intercession or to grow in your relationship with her, there are many Marian devotions to choose from. Depending on your season of life or your interests, you may find that a particular Marian devotion better engages you and your spouse. For example, there is the consecration to Mary, praying the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena, praying a daily rosary (or a decade of the rosary if this is a busy season of life), praying the Angelus or the Regina Caeli during Easter, participating in the First Saturdays devotions, or praying one of the numerous novenas or litanies to Our Lady.
These different Marian devotions may be prayed individually or as a couple. Even if you and your spouse are not together in the same physical space throughout your day, you could choose to connect at different times to pray a Hail Mary, or to call or video call each other to say the Angelus or Regina Caeli together at lunch. Another opportunity to connect as a couple is to go to a nearby Marian Shrine, have a picnic or a coffee together, and pray a new or a favourite Marian prayer while you are there.
You can also create a prayer corner or have a statue of Our Blessed Mother in your home as a place to come to be joined in prayer individually to pray for your spouse and family, or to pray with your spouse.
May this month of May, this month dedicated to Mary, be an opportunity to grow closer to Our Blessed Mother and to your spouse through her intercession.
–Melissa Guzik and Jean MacKenzie are registered psychologists who work in private practice in Edmonton. Watch for their monthly column on marriage and family life. Melissa and Jean are co-authors of the To Know, Love and Serve: A Path to Marital Fulfilment book and workbook. They have lectured and led workshops at St. Joseph Seminary, Newman Theological College and dioceses across Canada.