Rekindling a marriage's flame

A Christian Science perspective: Acknowledging God as the source of all good can inspire a more active expression of that goodness.

During the first decade of marriage, my husband and I fell comfortably and naturally into the routine of work and family responsibilities. We had a sweet, loving relationship, with mostly ups and very few downs. However, as steady as things were, we were still two people evolving at our own pace, with interests and activities that sometimes converged and often diverged. To a certain extent, we had let our relationship become a bit dusty. As we neared our 10th anniversary, I was longing to rediscover the fire of purpose in the relationship.

Who doesn’t want to feel heightened purpose and an eager anticipation of good? I’ve found that passion, in its spiritual sense, is more than added spice or physicality; instead, it’s a God-given quality that animates with inspiration and pure love. But sometimes after a while, zest, joy, and spontaneity become overshadowed by the routine or mundane, whether in a relationship or an activity we once found invigorating.

Does this mean that love is coming to an end? Or is there a way to fan the flame and rekindle the passion of inspired commitment to that something or someone we love?

When I met my husband, I had been praying daily to see qualities such as integrity, kindness, responsibility, respect, and commitment to good expressed in a life-companion. These were spiritual qualities I perceived to be foundational to a relationship. I had come to see through Christian Science that the true source of such qualities is God, divine Love, our creator, and they are reflected throughout God’s spiritual creation. Rather than focusing on finding a person to marry, I was on the lookout for the expression of these qualities in those around me. When I met the man who ultimately became my husband, I recognized these qualities expressed in him right away.

But after we’d been married for a while, my focus shifted. I had been consistently praying in support of our marriage, but this dropped off and was replaced by the day-to-day business of being a family. And the zest? The inspiration? That, too, gradually faded. In some important ways, it felt to me as if we were on completely different life paths, and I wondered how to bring those paths back together.

As I prayed for answers, I found a helpful insight in Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She wrote, “The admission to one’s self that man is God’s own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea” (p. 90). I had been thinking that if only my husband would develop interests similar to mine, we could rediscover our bond. But now I understood that he didn’t necessarily need to change at all. Instead, I could shift my view of him. I could pray to discern more of the infinite qualities of his true spiritual selfhood as a child of God. This could help us both experience a more fulfilling marriage.

So I took up daily prayer to watch for and witness my husband’s spirituality – that is, to recognize in him, once again, the expression of God’s goodness through the divine qualities that had attracted me to him in the first place. This brought about a rebirth in our marriage. The vitality I had been missing, the deeper companionship I sought, was restored. He, too, noted that our marriage was better than ever.

I’ve come to see that prayer isn’t just last-minute emergency life support. It can turn our thought to God, the source of all good, and inspire a more permanent perception and active expression of that goodness. The willingness to acknowledge that qualities such as kindness and worth are inherent in everyone unfolds the joy and inspiration of a fulfilling life.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.