Like many couples, my husband and I sometimes struggle to understand one another, unable to see what motivates the other's actions. A few years ago, during a very stressful period of our lives, I found myself angry and bitter with my husband -- could we ever attain reconciliation? -- when I received inspiration from an unexpected source: the Stations of the Cross.

At the time, my husband and I had two young children, and he was in his fifth year of graduate school. At the start of his studies, I had vowed to do everything I could to help him achieve his dream of getting a PhD.

Unable to help him do his schoolwork, I did my best to support him in other ways. I could always sense when he was having difficulties and would instinctively try to help, offering words of encouragement or planning something to take his mind off his studies.

I continued to give support, but after five years, the stress of our situation had affected my health. Fatigue overwhelmed me. Some days I was so tired that I would literally fall asleep in the middle of a sentence while reading aloud to my children.

My husband would come home to dirty dishes and toys scattered everywhere, but he seemed not to notice the mess and seldom offered to help. If I said something, he would cheerfully pitch in and take care of everything, but I found his behavior exasperating: Why did I always have to ask? He never had to ask me for support; I offered it freely. Couldn't he do the same?

I longed to resolve the situation, but had no idea what to do. The issue hovered in the back of my mind as Lent began that year. One evening, I took time for my favorite devotion, the Stations of the Cross.

Praying before the sixth station, a vivid image appeared in my mind: Veronica stands at the edge of the crowd, her heart overwhelmed with anguish as she watches Jesus struggling to carry His cross. She notices the sweat and blood running down His face, streaming into His eyes. The cross is too heavy for Him; He cannot let go in order to drag a sleeve across His face and clear His vision.

Her compassion compels her to step out of the crowd. With tears coursing down her cheeks, she wipes His face, clearing away the blood and sweat. Christ's eyes touch hers, acknowledging the gift she offers: an easing of His burden - not by taking away the weight of the cross, but by lightening His heart.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany: "I am like Veronica! Able to sense when my husband feels troubled, my compassion leads me to try and help him in some small way."

Then my eyes went back to the fifth station, when Simon is asked to help Jesus carry His cross. Another epiphany: "My husband is like Simon! He is not as sensitive as me and does not always recognize when I could use his help; I need to ask."

My husband and I still struggle to understand each other, but the realization that he is not as sensitive as me and needs to be asked for help was a valuable insight - one which still inspires me.

The Stations of the Cross helped me to see that my husband and I have different ways of bringing Christ into our marriage: He will cheerfully carry my burdens when asked, while I lighten his heart.

(Mrs. Wiegman is a writer from Niskayuna, where she cantors and sings in the choir at St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish.)