SPICE, part 1 (Spiritual)
We've discussed the Creighton Model FertilityCare use of the term "SPICE" in some previous blog posts here and here. But over the next few weeks we'll be diving deeper into the individual aspects of SPICE (spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, communicative and emotional) because there is just so much to unpack with any one of these topics!
With your use of CrMS (and, honestly, just life in general) there will be time periods where you don't or can't have (strictly speaking) genital contact. What does that mean for you and your spouse? That you're just roommates until the time when you get those green stamps on your chart again? Definitely not! This lifestyle will force you (sometimes kicking and screaming- ask me how I know) into growing all the areas of your relationship. This will strengthen your marriage relationship tremendously and profoundly deepen your intimacy with one another. It also makes those "green stamp go days" even better and more fulfilling because of your stronger marriage relationship. Engaged couples can also grow in all areas of SPICE as they wait and prepare for marriage. Every season, whether engaged, newly married, postpartum, dealing with health issues, infertility, or any other season brings its own unique challenges to your growth in SPICE.
This week I'll be discussing the spiritual side of things. The single most effective way to grow together spiritually as a couple is to pray together. Every couple should be praying together daily. If you've never prayed with anyone else before this can seem really daunting and awkward. You might have been married for years and have never prayed with your spouse. I have to admit that my husband and I were one of those couples. We had never truly prayed together. We prayed individually but it always felt like a very private thing. Somewhere around seven years of marriage, we were experiencing some pretty big challenges. We had a lot going on in our family and things were not great between us. We tried some marriage counseling but it didn't feel like a great fit. Things were hard. We were struggling. Lent was approaching and our church was offering a Lenten prayer series for couples. During the six weeks of Lent, the class met weekly and taught you how to pray as a couple. We decided to try it. It was not easy. Or comfortable. It didn't feel natural at all for a while. But it profoundly changed our marriage. Over 10 years of marriage, there are two things that have impacted our marriage more than anything else: using CrMS FertilityCare and praying together.
A variety of sources, including the class we participated in taught us that the divorce rate among couples that pray together regularly is less than 1%. Wow.
So how to begin? Below is a list of ideas and suggestions of how to pray together with your spouse. I listed them from the least intimidating to more intimate. Start small. And over time your comfort level will grow. That being said, I'd really encourage you to keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I've heard it said that your comfort zone is a lovely place, but nothing grows there. So true. Praying together with your spouse will change you. It will change your marriage and it will change your life.
Pray for your spouse every single day. Ask them specifically how you can pray for them and what intentions are on their heart.
Attend Mass together and hold hands during the Mass.
Go to Eucharistic Adoration for a few minutes together and holds hands but pray silently.
Read the Bible out loud to each other.
Say an Our Father out loud together daily. Sit close together or hold hands.
Pray out loud together. It helps to have structure when you're first starting out. For example, you go first and talk to God out loud. Praise Him, thank Him, offer Him the prayer intentions on your heart. Tell Him your thoughts. When you're done, your spouse takes a turn and does the same. When you're done you can close with an Our Father.
Pray over each other. Put your hand on your spouse's back, shoulder or head and pray out loud for them. Declare Jesus's love over them. Declare your love over them.
A few additional tips:
Make this a commitment together and schedule it. Commit to spending 5 minutes praying together before the kids are up. Or in the evening before you turn the tv on. Or whatever works for your routine. But schedule it in or it won't happen.
Don't give up no matter how many days you miss. Keep at it. It really does get easier and more comfortable over time.
Never criticize or critique your spouse's prayer. There is no faster way to kill spiritual intimacy than to criticize your spouse when they're at their most vulnerable.
If you're looking for more resources or ideas, here are some good ones: