Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment. (Have you got it memorized yet?)
You might be disappointed to discover that I changed my original keyword (“underwear”). While the state of our underwear drawer does reveal something about how we regard marital intimacy, I like to think it’s not the most important one. And so, I changed the keyword to understanding.
In the Parable of the Sower (Mt 13:3-9), a farmer strides along, scattering seed haphazardly along his freshly plowed field. Some seeds fall on hard-packed ground, others on the rocks, still others choked by weeds. Only a fraction hits fertile soil, and grows into a desirable crop. Jesus thoughtfully unpacks the meaning of the parable for his disciples a little later in the chapter (vv. 18-23).
Much of what the Lord was teaching about effective evangelization, can also be applied with benefit to marriage, particularly in the communication habits between spouses. How often, for example, does a “discussion” devolve into a familiar argument, so that we wind up dancing around each other, packing the soil beneath our feet? And the next time the subject is broached, how easy it becomes to tune out rather than to listen?
And how often do we barely tolerate — rather than share enthusiastically — the things that our spouse loves most, whether alternative rock or computer programming or camping or spicy foods? Does our unwillingness to try (or learn about) these things keep us from growing in understanding of who they are, and how they think — such that the roots of our love become shallow and easily uprooted?
By contrast, the woman who seeks to know the man she married is not content for long to simply go through the motions of marriage, or to allow other things — even other people — to distract her from her first calling . . . not as mother (our husbands already have one of those), but as wife. This requires a level of empathy and understanding so deep, the two become in a very real way . . . one.