Family Planning, Intimacy and Prayer

Written by Melissa Gorley. 

When the word “intimacy” is used in the context of marriage, it most often refers to physical and sexual intimacy and sexual relations. Humans are, however, spiritual as well as physical beings and a healthy married life of course includes other intimacies, too. Charting fertility cycles together can be a source of emotional intimacy- if it is done as partners and the charted signs are used to help keep both spouses aware of stressors and their health consequences and to facilitate communication about sexual intimacy.

Spiritual intimacy is another important type of intimacy in marriage. Growing a habit of praying together can feel like a huge challenge for a busy couple with a growing family who struggle to make time for the necessary logistical conversations of each week. Praying for one’s marriage and especially praying with one’s spouse can be sources of great intimacy, as well as sources of great strength for the challenges of the vocation to married life. Magnificat publishes a beautiful book called A Psalter for Couples that has become a source of inspiration for me here.

A psalter is a collection of psalms, the prophet David’s ancient, poetic hymns of praise and prayers from human experience that make up much of the Old Testament and the communal prayer life of the Church. A Psalter for Couples is a collection of psalms organized under topics of the “mysteries” of married life- similar to, but expanded on, the mysteries of the Rosary. Different psalms are aligned to topics and experiences within each “mystery” of married life. So, under the Joyful Mysteries is found Psalm 113 for “When our desire for a child has been heard” and under the Luminous Mysteries, Psalm 19A- a prayer “To be an icon of the love of God.” Under the Dark Mysteries is found Psalm 127, “To recover the grace of unity in our marriage” and Psalm 49, “When desire for wealth tempts us to go astray.” Under the Merciful Mysteries is found Psalm 6, “For growth in the midst of trials” and with the Sorrowful Mysteries, Psalm 44 for “When our sorrows are beyond our understanding,” as well as Psalm 77: “When the beloved has left for the Father’s house.”

The Psalter itself is a gorgeous book: red and gold hardcover with gilt edged pages, red ribbon bookmarks, lined front and back covers, floral art and artistic typeset throughout. It lends to an encounter with He who is all beauty and a brief respite of prayer to gather the strength and grace to live this truly great vocation to sacramental marriage.