Our Domestic Church
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In their pastoral letter titled Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, the bishops highlighted in their seventh and final theme, School of Love and Gratitude, that spouses tend to express gratitude and appreciation more often to strangers than to each other.

Many married couples see their relationship as a way to become more spiritual and holy. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium, #11) emphasizes this idea and highlights the importance of cultivating virtues like patience, humility, and chastity to achieve this goal within marriage. Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan states that gratitude is a very important quality in marriage but is often neglected. When someone in a marriage doesn’t show gratitude to their partner, it can make them feel unappreciated, resentful, or rejected.

Expressing gratitude is vital to sustaining healthy relationships and promoting overall well-being. It involves acknowledging the positive actions of others and showing appreciation for their kindness, effort, and generosity. Being grateful for your spouse, their contributions, and your love for one another can help foster a solid and lasting relationship. Furthermore, expressing gratitude for even the smallest acts of kindness can strengthen the marital bond and make your relationship more meaningful. Not only is expressing gratitude important to your spouse, but it can also help you improve your own sense of happiness and self-worth. By expressing your gratitude for your spouse, you are actively reinforcing the positive aspects of your relationship and creating an environment of mutual appreciation.

The pastoral letter highlights the significance of marriage as a “school” that teaches couples to value each other and the experience of being together. One crucial aspect of fostering growth in a relationship is cultivating a sense of gratitude. When a husband consciously expresses gratitude towards his wife, he prioritizes her needs above his own, making it easier to maintain a healthy relationship. Similarly, when a wife embodies gratitude, she is better equipped to exhibit patience and forgiveness toward her husband’s shortcomings. It’s truly beautiful when couples appreciate and support each other in this manner, which comes from being intentional and practicing daily.

In times of crisis, it can be challenging for a family to find reasons to feel grateful. Additionally, it can be a struggle to establish a routine of expressing gratitude when there is so much tension within the household. Saint Jose Maria Escriva said, “Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because he gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven’t what you need or because you have.” Acknowledging the goodness in our lives and managing our negative emotions like frustration, disappointment, and regret in a healthy way is crucial. By focusing on the good and expressing gratitude, we can boost our well-being and cultivate a positive outlook.

To sum up, gratefulness is especially important in families and marriages during challenging times. It promotes maturity, happiness, and overall wellness while preventing harmful emotions like jealousy, resentment, bitterness, and anger from causing further damage to our relationships. By showing appreciation to our spouse, we can strengthen our bond and feel better overall. When we focus on the good parts of our relationship and put our spouse’s needs first, we create an atmosphere of love and support. That’s why it’s vital to practice gratitude in our marriages and families, making sure to thank our spouses and loved ones for their kindness, effort, and generosity.

What specific actions can one take to express gratitude towards their spouse?
What are some specific ways to establish a routine of expressing gratitude in a household during a crisis?
(To download the pastoral letter, we invite you to visit sbmarriageinitiative.org)

Mario and Paola Martinez are co-directors of the Office of Marriage and Family Life Ministries in the Diocese of San Bernardino.