“And returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” Luke 24: 9-12
As you reflect on this familiar Easter scene from St. Luke’s gospel, you may be filled with the sense of amazement, excitement and joy of the Resurrection. You can picture St. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James finding the tomb empty, running to tell the apostles and then St. Peter getting up and running to discover the empty tomb himself. As you savour these emotions, may you contemplate how you can foster these feelings throughout this Easter season, especially within your marriage.
Our brains have a tendency to focus on the negative. It can be easy to focus on the struggles of the day or the burdens that are impacting you in this current season of life. You can walk into a room and see the mess, like the pile of dirty dishes, instead of focusing on the people present.
The season of Easter is a good reminder to work against this tendency of focusing on the negative by intentionally striving to focus on joy with your spouse. St. Teresa of Calcutta said that,“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” One way to be more purposeful about loving your family is to establish rituals of connection.
“Rituals of connection” are rituals of everyday life in which the spouses share time and attention to each other” and are intentional. Some examples of rituals of connection include how you connect with each other upon leaving your home and reuniting when one of you returns home every day (such as intentionally seeking each other out, saying “I love you”, and giving each other a kiss), meals eaten together, a simple conversation to find out how each other’s days have gone or taking time to exercise together by going for a walk once a week.”
As you think of the different rituals of connection in your marriage, can you think of ways that you can incorporate joy into them? Here are some ideas that are specific to Easter:
- When you are having supper together, have a special dessert that celebrates Easter beyond Easter Sunday.
- Throughout the fifty days of the Easter season, as you greet each other throughout the day, either coming or going, add a “Happy Easter!” into the greeting and take a moment to connect with a hug and kiss.
- Take time together in the evening to read one of the Gospel passages about the resurrection or the Acts of the Apostles and reflect on how the joy of Easter should influence how you live your day-to-day life.
- Display a picture of the Divine Mercy and take some time to pray a Divine Mercy chaplet. After taking time to reflect on God’s mercy, you can demonstrate mercy for your spouse. This could be done by taking some time to share with your spouse something you are grateful for about them by focusing on a positive quality they have or something positive that they have done that you appreciate.
With respect to your relationship, take some time to reflect on the occasions when joy was prominent. What were the particular behaviours, attitudes or activities that were contributing to that joy? Are there rituals that you could reestablish that would help increase the joy in your family life?
It is our hope that this time of reflection on the excitement and amazement of Easter, as well as times of joy within your marriage, will result in greater connection and increased joy between you and your spouse.
-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.