As a child growing up in NYC, I knew all I needed to know about Lent – yucky Fish Fridays! See, in my Irish Catholic family, we didn’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, and we weren’t one of the cool families who ordered pizza. No, we had fried fish, which I hated. We were expected to give something up as well – chewing gum, chocolate or the like. Those little change boxes for the missions were thrown in as an additional misery…Now I’ve got to give up my quarters too!
That’s what I knew about Lent: It wasn’t fun.
Later, I learned that Lent is the forty-day period of penitence beginning on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter. It’s a reminder to pray and focus on spiritual matters.
The Purpose of Lent
Lent is a wonderful part of the Church calendar. As I got older, I came to love the purpose of Lent. Lent is a time when we remember and work on our need for penitence in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need it. Fasting during Lent is an important spiritual and corporal practice we engage in. By the way, I’ve grown to love fish, so it’s not such a burden anymore. However, I still like to “do” during Lent more than I like “giving something up,” though that is good too.
Here are four things husbands can do this Lent for their wives:
1. Practice physical intimacy without sexual expectations
Make a date night. Bring home take out, light some candles, and give your wife a foot rub, shoulder rub, and massage expecting nothing in return. You are doing this to make her feel good, loved, safe and protected. You should practice physical nonsexual intimacy every day of the year by holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc. Make a special effort to step that up this Lent.
2. Get Active together
Sometimes as we move through the cycles of marriage we fall into ruts or routines. Use this Lent as an opportunity to reengage with your wife. Don’t be a couch potato with the ball game on. Go for a walk, play a game, do a home improvement project together, or exercise. Just get active and do it with each other. The possibilities on what to do are numerous. Just pick something and get moving.
This is very important! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!! Praying together increases spiritual intimacy and brings ourselves and our wives into conversation with God. Many people find it difficult, but an easy way to start a daily prayer routine with your wife is to do the Lectio Divina together.
Set aside 15 minutes, but no more than 30 – you want to be consistent and do it every day. If we make it too long, we’ll find every possible reason to skip it. Read a scripture verse together from the New Testament. Again, it doesn’t have to be long. Sometimes one sentence will do, other times a paragraph.
After you’ve read it together, ask four questions and discuss with each other:
- Who am I in this story?
- What is God saying to me in this story?
- What is God asking me to do in this story?
- Finally, ask your wife what she thinks God is asking of you
4. Be Like Nike – JUST DO IT
Often as we progress past the honeymoon phase we become great mathematicians! Suddenly, we are counting everything we do versus what our spouse does. This Lent, husbands…stop counting and just do it. Every day find an opportunity to serve your wife in any way you can. Big things or small things, just serve her. Don’t count, just do. Do it because you love her and want to love her as Christ loves the Church.
Lent is a time of remembering our sinful nature and remembering our need for God’s mercy. It can also be a time of great spiritual renewal for ourselves and relational renewal for our marriages. I hope these ideas help you have a blessed and fruitful Lent this year.
If you want to hear a conversation about this, listen to Trending with Timmerie – Catholic Principles applied to today’s experiences.: Marrying Young & Committing to Marriage on Apple Podcasts Jim and Timmerie have an engaging discussion on marrying young and 4 things husbands can do this Lent.
God bless your journey