The first years of marriage are a time when the relationship settles down, consolidates and grows in love. To achieve this, keeping a spiritual journal together is an excellent exercise.
In June 2022, Pope Francis authored a document titled Catechumenal itinerary for married life in which he offers support for the spouses during the first years of marriage. A document that is currently only available in Italian and Spanish. “It often happens that the attention of young married couples is focused on the need to earn money and on the children, neglecting the commitment to the quality of their mutual relationship and forgetting the presence of God in their love. It is worth helping the newlyweds to know how to find the time to deepen their friendship and to welcome the grace of God,” the Pope first exhorts.
He then proposes a series of keys and guidelines so that, during the first stage of married life, the couple grows stronger, so that their love takes root and grows, bearing fruit. Spouses also need the help of the Holy Spirit. “They are called to respond to the gift of God with their commitment, their creativity, their resistance and their daily struggle, but they will always be able to invoke the Holy Spirit who consecrated their union, so that the grace received may be constantly manifested in each new situation”, underlined the Pope in Amoris Laetitia.
It is essential that the newly married couple be aware that God is at the center of their life and gives meaning to everything that happens there. This is why it is necessary to cultivate a conjugal spirituality.
A wedding diary
How to do ? Pope Francis suggests an idea: that the spouses keep together a “Marriage Diary” and thus be together the protagonists of their own love story. “One might suggest that the spouses keep a Marriage Diary for a sort of periodic verification of the conjugal communion, in which to record the joys and the sufferings and all that constitutes the concrete experience of the life of the couple. It’s about writing with four hands to record every meaningful moment in life. This diary can become a means of transmitting the faith: a memorial of the grace of the Holy Spirit who acts in the family.
This Journal also serves as a roadmap to steer the marriage one way or the other. A couple praying together performs one of the most intimate and unifying practices they can do. Thus, each married couple, through this constructive dialogue, will compose this diary in which they will decide how they will live their spirituality. In addition, they will review all aspects of their lives together and place God at the center of their relationship.
A spiritual habit
Praying together creates a spiritual habit that will make spouses allies in life, in love, and in their goals. Pope Francis indicates that during the first years the married couple must learn many things: to accept the diversity of the other, not to have unrealistic expectations concerning life together, to manage conflicts, to seek a balance between the needs of one, the other and those of the family, acquire healthy habits and cultivate a shared conjugal spirituality. Writing a Marriage Journal is a routine that will provide the couple with the security and stability needed to continue together and grow.
All you need is a notebook or a binder, organized according to different parts. Pope Francis proposes to include in his wedding diary the following sections:
Our Bible Quote : look in the Scriptures for a phrase that motivates you, inspires you. A sentence that guides your marriage. You can change it over time.
Our memories : Why did I fall in love with her/him? Generally, we tend to forget it. That’s why it’s good that from time to time you remember the reasons that made you fall in love with your spouse. And tell him. Also, give thanks to God for all that you have been through together.
Our differences : Recognizing that you are different is important for being able to talk about life. In this way, you will begin to see that your spouse is a gift from God, and to be grateful for it.
Our relationship with God : Unity in marriage requires trusting God throughout life and forging a lasting relationship with Him to strengthen the spiritual side of marriage. In this section you can add ideas and proposals for having more relationships with God and how to carry them out.
Our worries and doubts : Sharing one’s weaknesses and concerns is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary. Talking about it will make you more transparent with each other and increase mutual trust. You can also discuss here how to support each other.
Our moments of joy : Marriage should be lived with humour. It is a place to have fun, laugh and enjoy together. A couple who lives like this is more satisfied and secure. So ask God to keep you happy and thank him for the good times. Plus, you can write down activities you like to do together and pin them to the calendar.
Our love : Putting flavor and romance into your daily life will help keep the relationship alive and fresh. There needs to be a balance between everyday life and your responsibilities with time for love. You can research Bible phrases together on how to maintain love in your marriage.
Our way of communicating : Talk, talk, talk. And listen too. Communication is an essential part of marriage. Your words to each other should evoke love, respect and admiration. Maintain quality dialogues between you. Write down in this section, for example, favorite words or phrases you have said to yourself.
Our way of doing Church : Commitment to one’s community strengthens spouses. Couples who go together and participate in the life of the Church share values and are happier. We encourage you to write down in this section ideas and concrete actions to participate in the life of your parish, for example. And set times to pray together there.
Our family : Your marriage lasts well beyond your two people and influences the following generations. Therefore, as a spouse, you must build this inheritance so that it is worthy and full of love. Moreover, you can reflect and thank those who influenced you before you. We invite you to write down ideas about the kind of legacy you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
You can of course supplement your Wedding Journal with other parts. You are free to identify them. The goal is to take advantage of these moments shared in prayer. You will find that it is a great investment for your marriage as you will draw closer to God and each other.
Let us quote in conclusion these few words of Pope Francis contained in Amoris Laetitia “We must also encourage young couples to create their own routine, which offers a healthy feeling of stability and protection, and which is built through a series of shared daily rites. What better routine than writing a wedding journal together?