Back in 2012, a quotation came to my e-mail inbox that I continue to revisit again and again:
“In marriage the festive joy of the first day should last for the whole of life: every day should be a feast day; every day husband and wife should appear to each other as new, extraordinary beings. The only way of achieving this: let both deepen their spiritual life and strive hard in the task of self-development.”
— Father Alexander Elchaninvov, early 20th century Russian émigré, in The Diary of a Russian Priest
What I find wonderful about this quote is that it addresses a grievous error that spouses often make on a regular basis: an imbalanced focus on each other. Rather than constantly bringing my husband’s shortcomings (or even his strengths) to the forefront, it encourages me to focus on drawing closer to God. It drives me to turn my attention to the plank in my own eye, rather than pointing out the speck in my neighbor’s. It creates a positive attitude of amazement toward the other person with whom I share a mundane, everyday existence–I have to seek out the small gifts and beautiful things in the other person. It makes me celebrate what I have, every day.
By giving attention to and walking the path of my own salvation, I help to transform those around me, including my spouse.