To celebrate National Marriage Week and World Marriage Sunday on Feb. 14, the United States bishops are encouraging couples to remember that the grace of their love together has the power to change the world. The continuation of living life amid a global pandemic has many couples seeing that this has been a season of “for worse,” “for poorer” and “in sickness.” Marital strain, illness and unemployment are all realities. But this week we are reminded that no matter how rough the road may be, having our spouse help navigate the bumps in the terrain and travel the journey together is reason to celebrate.

Since we are not spending lots of time roaming the aisles in stores right now, we may have missed the hearts and candy that replaced the Christmas decorations weeks ago.  Stumped on what to give your spouse this Valentine’s Day? Give your valentine the gift of time. Simply head to www.foryourmarriage.org which will lead you to a free downloadable retreat that can help you reconnect and enrich your relationship.

Over cups of coffee or glasses of wine, you can deepen your connection to your spouse without getting a babysitter or leaving the house. “To have, to hold, to honor: An At Home Marriage Retreat” includes easy activities to remind couples how their life together is a living sacrament, sharing God’s love with each other and the world each day.

Presented as a week-long experience with a short, daily exercise, the retreat can be started at any time. If you miss a day, you can always just jump back in, it is not date specific. Don’t have time to explore it with your spouse this week because of winter break? Start after the kids go back to school or save it until the week of your anniversary as a reminder of your grace filled life together.

Every marriage is meant to be a little icon of God’s love. Marriage reminds us of the self-emptying, self-sacrificing love God has for each one of us. The vows that married couples make to each other illustrate what this love looks like lived out in the day-to-day experience: to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to cherish, to honor until death. The sacrament provides the grace necessary to weather the storms of marriage and family life. We can always draw upon that grace, it is always there, even in a pandemic.

Mary Fay is the associate director for Marriage and Family Ministries in the Diocese of Albany.