While recently taking a walk on a beautiful, tree-lined path in my neighborhood, I ran into a dear friend – a 79-year-old Italian native, Catholic woman, who for years and years has heard the trials and tribulations of my love life. We got to talking about faith and romance.
So when she asked about my new boyfriend, I’m sure she expected me to give her a list of reasons why it probably won’t work out. Instead, she got an anomaly.
“He’s wonderful,” I gushed.
She then did something I found thought-provoking. She took my hand gently, patted it and said softly, “Keep praying. Just keep praying. Pray together.”
Not the response I was expecting, it got me curious about the role that faith and romance and God play in relationships. Are there benefits to including God in your relationship? Is it true that a couple who prays together stays together?
I reached out to two people I thought might be able to answer these questions: Rabbi Paul Cohen, D.Min., senior rabbi at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, and the Rev. Charles Mize, senior pastor at Glenview Community Church.
Cohen, who has been a Rabbi for 25 years, said including God in a romantic relationship, especially a marriage, strengthens the commitment.
“It provides an added depth, richness and energy to the marriage because the couple recognizes that God is a partner in it as well,” he said.
Cohen said a religious wedding ceremony makes the couple accountable to God when it comes to the work and diligence that every marriage requires.
“For a Christian marriage, or any religious marriage, God is the third partner in this relationship,” said Mize, who has been a pastor for 35 years. “We can depend on God to give us strength and resilience in the relationship, even during the toughest times.”
What are some ways couples can make faith and God part of their relationship?
1. Be mindful of our words and actions toward one another.
“The idea that we are all created in the image of God and that we are representing God on earth should temper and mediate how we behave toward each other,” Cohen said. “Hopefully, the words we choose and the deeds we perform will honor that fact.”
2. Engage in religious traditions together. A Friday night Shabbat dinner, a Sunday morning church service, or a charity event where the couple volunteers together are all opportunities to turn to and connect with God together.
“Tradition teaches us what God’s love means,” Mize said. “That’s how God gets brought into the relationship.”
3. Pray together. I believe God listens to our prayers wherever we are. In other words, we don’t have to be in a church or a synagogue to talk to Him. When a couple prays together – whether it’s for a friend who is ill, for their children or even a quick prayer before a meal to give thanks, they connect on a spiritual level that adds another element of closeness to what they already have.
The way I see it, when it comes to marriage or any long-term committed relationship, we can use all the help we can get. Relationships are hard! Click here to read the rest of the article, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.