How to encourage the spiritual life of your husband.

We always get bad weather here in the northeast around Valentine’s Day weekend. This year, we had an ice storm with power outages on a Sunday in parts of our area. There was something eerily beautiful about icicles clinging to power lines and trees and with hardly any cars on the road, it made for a quiet and peaceful day. 

Fortunately, it only covered parts of our area so we approached our day with caution.While we may have not been able to catch a matinee of Hidden Figures at the Midtown Scholar, we were able to meet our dinner reservations at Bricco in downtown Harrisburg. It’s developed quite a classy namesake to Harrisburg. I know some people wouldn’t find downtown Harrisburg to be a classy place, but it depends who you talk to. Harrisburg has quite a restaurant scene as the city is filled with independent movers and shakers outside of what mainstream eyes can see. Bricco, a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant, is one of these places. 

Quiet and romantic, the atmosphere was perfect was Valentine’s Day. The Orthodox Gentlemen had Tuscan chicken while I was delighted by an exquisite sounding squash and bean vegetable ragout which was presented and tasted like a hearty vegetable stew. It’s nice that typical non vegan and vegetable restaurants are open to creating a vegetable entree that’s more than just salad on their menus. The cream of mushroom with truffle oil soup was amazing. It reminded me of my dad’s cream of mushroom soup that he prepares every Holy Supper…but perhaps with the volume turned up. Heh heh. 

The food presentation at Bricco doesn’t disappoint either. Armed with a recipe blog and an Instagram account, I feel as if I should be photographing all of my dining experiences but I really try to curb myself or stop myself in upscale places like Bricco. Although the photos of food presentation can be compliments to the chef and are memories of special memories being made, I almost feel as if I am doing the restaurant a disfavor. I mean, I looked around me and didn’t notice anyone else taking pictures much less on their cell phones. In fact, the restaurant buzzed with other couples enjoying their Valentine’s Day dinners too. And you know what, I get that too. I guess you can say, my feelings are mixed on the subject.

But what do you do? Food bloggers and foodies, do you curb your enthusiasm when you go out to eat or do you go all in to capturing every dining experience? Has anyone discarded you against it?

On our walk back holding hands, we noticed Agia Sophia at the other side of the block that Bricco was on, looming quietly in darkness almost as if it disapproves of St.Valentine or the very nature of Valentine’s Day. And to some Orthodox, Valentine’s Day carries little or no meaning to them. 

But why?

There’s some confusion here to the pagan roots of Valentine’s Day being linked to Lupercalia or the festival of sexual license. The roots stemming to two of the most sexually perverted pagan festivals in history are enough to disgust some individuals who have already thought to commit themselves to a life of piety.  Orthodox relationships and betrotals are also kept short. Religious Muslims also don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day for similar reasons. But believe it or not, the term lover has a few meanings besides that obvious one. And to say that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with love is simply not true. It was St. Valentine whom bravely defended marriage as he’d marry couples in secret under the ruling of Emperor Claudius as the Emperor opposed marriage. Once he found out Valentine was performing marriages, he ordered Valentine to be beheaded. St.Valentine himself was a peacemaker and is the patron saint of lovers.  

176 AD to 273 AD

I, myself, was always more of a lover and had a sentimental place in my heart for Valentine’s Day. A day to show your appreciation for the people who truly matter to you? A day to be thoughtful? A day to show appreciation and cares for even a stranger or make and send Valentine’s to elderly and the infirm shut-ins? I mean, the options are endless. 

For the four years that the Orthodox Gentleman and I have been together, it’s always been our day to spend together. We’d usually get dressed up and go out to dinner. The usual. But is that it? Is that what it takes to buy and maintain love and marriage? 

From our daily trials to trouble at church to stress at work, what are you going to do when your partner were to approach them with a less than stellar appearance one day and slumped shoulders that feel like they are carrying the weight of the world? Do you even care?

You should. And if that’s true, your initial instinct is concern and maybe even fear. 

If your husband or fiancé is anything like mine, giving him a sermon isn’t going to work. It also doesn’t help to state the obvious and telling him where he’s failed may even make him more upset. 

So, tell us. What does help? 

In Orthodoxy, it’s sometimes strange to think the husband needs encouragement in this area or it may be the other way around. Chances are, one of you of both of you have a mutual connection with the church. But your faith or prayer life is like a boat drink in a Jimmy Buffett song – “on the rocks.”

I’m not here to write another blog post on providing cute tips for how to make a hotter love life or going out of your realm. That’s neither Christian or Orthodox. And if you’re reading this blog post and this blog, you’re probably one or both in need of a little encouragement. 

And if that’s the case, here’s my advice:

Gently encourage  your partner. The keyword is: gentle. 

  • Be respectful and loving to his face and behind his back. 
  • Don’t nag him – As much as you care or are concerned, bringing it up constantly never really improves the situation. Also, you’re not a mother to him. 
  • Recognize the good in him – Make a habit of seeing to appreciate the good in all that he says and does. This appreciation doesn’t need to be earmarked on social media either. It’s just as easy to take good news to social media as it is bad news. A simple thank you or a hug in person and in private helps. 
  • Get rid of your expectations. We all have them but very rarely if never do we meet all of them. No one wants to live up to someone’s personal list of what defines them to be good enough or spiritual. If it’s not in the Bible, get rid of it. Give it to God.
  • Be mindful of who you admire. If you rave about a priest, a author, a celebrity or an influential figure especially in front of your husband and to everyone around you, this is actually quite defeating to your husband. They’ll feel they will never measure up no matter how hard they try.  
  •  Sometimes, just sitting on your hands and keeping quiet is humbling enough. There’s always power in kindness and our smiles. Be gentle and soft, for the world is hard enough already.
  • Trust God, not yourself. You may think you have the answers and free choice but that may not be God’s plan. God is working it out for you.

I hope that helps you.  


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