4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Freely, Fully, Faithfully, Fruitfully

Good Friday has arrived, which means I’ve written 5 premarriage posts and 6 marriage posts during Lent. Yet, when Fr. Mike asked on Sunday at Mass what marriage advice my spouse and I had to offer as we celebrated 30 years, I went completely blank. (Husband came up with, “Don’t go to bed angry,” and saved the moment.)

So, to redeem myself, I’m going to offer some of my favorite tidbits:

  • Like the song says, Turn Back to Me, with All Your Heart. When I most want to turn away is when it’s the hardest but most important to turn toward my husband and reconnect.
  • That goes along with what someone said who shared our anniversary date. He and his wife promised to, Love each other when most unlovable.
  • Always treat your spouse with respect, whether in person or when talking about him or her.
  • Express gratitude for every service your spouse does for you, from a meal made to a day spent at work.
  • In general, put your spouse first, ahead of any other person. Though occasionally your children’s needs must come first, a strong marriage is one of your greatest gifts to them. Set aside time alone together—a few (4?) minutes each day, one evening a week, and a weekend a couple of times each year.
  • Pray together. Studies show couples who regularly pray and attend Church together have a much lower rate of divorce. Inviting the Holy Spirit into your marriage brings graces that reinforce your commitment to everlasting love.
  • Play together. Find ways to keep laughter in your relationship. Not by teasing, of course.


I’ve been thinking about the Church’s view on marriage as it is illuminated by annulment (Decree of Nullity) proceedings. In order to determine whether a marriage was, in fact, a sacramental covenant that is indissoluble, the Church looks for four elements to be present at the time of the wedding. The Church asks whether both parties promised themselves:

  • Freely – Were both members of the couple free to make a lifetime vow? Were they mature enough, mentally stable enough, and not encumbered by any situation that made marriage seem to be the only option?
  • Fully – Was either party holding back some truth from the other? Were they ready and willing to accept each other as they were, without any conditions?
  • Faithfully – Did they intend to remain faithful to each other alone, for life?
  • Fruitfully – Was their love open to sharing with others, particularly children?


If these four elements were not present, the Church may find that a marriage, though legal (and thus recognizing any children as legitimate) may not have been a valid sacramental marriage.

It stands to reason that if we want our marriages to be lifelong, indissoluble, we should work to turn to each other every day and offer our love:

  • Freely – Do I work to keep other commitments from coming between me and my spouse? Do I attempt to grow in my maturity and emotional strength in order to bring my best to my marriage?
  • Fully – Do I keep part of myself protected from my spouse, or do I make an effort to grow in intimacy and trust?
  • Faithfully – Do I guard myself from temptation? Do I keep our marital challenges private and discuss them only with my spouse or with a trained professional? Do my actions assure my spouse that he or she is now and will always be my one and only?
  • Fruitfully – We recognize love by the fruit that it bears. What sacrifices can I make to show my love? How can I turn away from selfishness and be open to the good of others? Am I parenting my children as fully as I can, teaching them spiritually, morally, and intellectually?


This post is our final one for this Lent. Like last year, I am making it shorter than usual in order to give you time to write a short note to your spouse that begins, “I love you because…” Then slip it inside an Easter card or Easter basket.

No groaning allowed. We all need to count our blessings from time to time, and your spouse is one of your best!

 I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve applied any of the ideas, or how I could improve these posts for next year (even if you say you hate homework).

 May your Easter Season and your relationship be blessed!

 Betty Arrigotti

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