75 Qualities or Practices Catholic Couples Ought to Strive for

Often couples, particularly ones preparing for marriage, seek advice on what kinds of things the “ideal Catholic” couple and family ought to do. In fact, I know that it’s become a bit of a tradition for newlyweds to ask their wedding guests to share a few words of advice with them in a guest book. Given that we’re nearing the end of another year and the beginning of a new one—a time of year when we usually like to reflect on the past and make some concrete resolutions for the future—I thought it would be nice to compile a list of qualities that all Catholic marriages and families ought to strive towards.

My hope is that this list affirms you in those good things which you are already doing, and helps inspire you to renew your zeal to strive for marital and familial holiness while also fostering a deeper and more personal relationship with Jesus, your Lord and Saviour.

This list is not exhaustive, nor is it meant to intimidate. Our paths to holiness, the way we grow in the spiritual life, the pace at which we do so—these are unique to each one of us. The point is simply that we grow—in grace and virtue—and I believe this list can help many couples to do just that in the vocation to which they have been called. You’ll notice that a lot of things on this list are not strictly speaking “religious” or “spiritual” practices, and that’s because families are not meant to live the way monks live in a monastery, steeped in formal prayer for the greater part of their day. The call to holiness in marriage and family life has a different dimension, has its own set of responsibilities, and therefore requires different things of us.

Let’s take a look!

The call to holiness in marriage and family life has a different dimension, has its own set of responsibilities, and therefore requires different things of us.

Qualities to strive for and practices to adopt as a couple and as a family:

  1. Do a holy hour together (or at least individually on your own) at least once a week.

  2. Do at least a monthly examinations of conscience for married couples.

  3. Go to Confession at least once every two months, ideally taking your family too (that is, children), if not more often.

  4. Pray a rosary together daily as a family.

  5. Manage finances well and live a well-organized life.

  6. Communicate very well with each other, don't attempt to read each other's minds but share how you really feel.

  7. Resolve conflict easily by kind, loving, and honest communication, and compromise where needed.

  8. Prepare your children humanly, emotionally, and spiritually to flourish.

  9. Have a disciplined and solid personal prayer life.

  10. Have a good support system of friends and family to fall back on.

  11. Have good physical health, which helps mental and spiritual health.

  12. Know how to have holy leisure together and as a family.

  13. Be actively involved in your children’s intellectual and spiritual growth. (I support homeschooling where you have discerned it is a right fit for you.)

  14. Be constantly modelling a life of holiness and virtue for eachother and your children.

  15. Have an organized way of continuing your formation in your matrimonial vocation, to more perfectly live it out. (E.g. joining various groups that exist to support Catholic couples like TOOL.)

  16. Regularly spend time with other good Catholic couples who are striving for holiness.

  17. Understand and live the proper spirit of Theology of the Body of St. John Paul II.

  18. Don’t keep score or hold grudges.

  19. Steward your home well as a domestic Church.

  20. Maintain the home as a beautiful and comfortable place where people feel comfortable “and at home.” This helps children in many areas of their development and growth.

  21. In connection with the above point, keep a clean and orderly home.

  22. Try to be involved in your local parish community, of course only as your time and charisms/gifts allow.

  23. Distribute chores/tasks in an equitable and wise way between spouses and children.

  24. Have devotions and prayer time in the family at regular intervals, and ideally, in sync with the liturgical season (E.g. Advent, Lent, Easter, etc.).

  25. Keep the home well organized in a way that tends toward a holy simplicity of life and a healthy spirit of detachment.

  26. As circumstances allow, regularly keep in touch and spend time with other family members (parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, etc.)

  27. Always communicate with each other and act in a way that others always know you love each other, even if there may be a disagreement on a particular matter.

  28. Know how to compromise your personal preferences, when prudent, for a greater good, in a spirit of loving and holy self-sacrifice.

  29. Love Jesus more than you love each other.

  30. Celebrate liturgical seasons and special occasions well (E.g. birthdays, anniversaries, solemnities/feasts, etc.). Think of the Immaculate Conception, for example, or the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

  31. Follow Canon law, and all Church teaching on marriage.

  32. Practice a complete openness to life according to the Church’s teachings.

  33. Intentionally build in time to “improve” how you live your vocation, and book this in proactively.

  34. Have date nights or special outings just as a couple.

  35. Never go to bed angry, and try to resolve any tension by humility, forgiveness,