Garage door lesson for marriage | Persons, places and things


By Barb Arland-Fye

Backing out of the garage is not one of my greatest skills. The other morning, in a hurry as usual, I managed to back into the snow blower parked against the garage wall. The snow blower on one side of my car and a garage support beam on the other side seemed to create insurmountable obstacles that morning. I got out of the car and yelled upstairs to my husband Steve for assistance. His patience, and mine, were frayed that morning and so I left for the Y and work feeling absolutely rattled.


After a long day at the office, I reflected on the drive home about what had happened that morning and how hurt I felt by Steve’s lack of empathy. At the same time, I couldn’t stop thinking about a story I was working on regarding the Covenant of Love Marriage Mentor ministry. Steve and I are mentors trained to assist other couples in sacramental marriages dealing with struggles. What an example we set that morning!

I pulled the car into the garage (without bumping into the snow blower or the support beam), unloaded my bags and started walking up the stairs, contemplating how to greet Steve. Before I reached the top step, the kitchen door opened slowly and Steve had a tender look on his face.


“How did your day go?” he asked.

Pope Francis identifies three words that are essential in every marriage: “please,” “thanks,” and “sorry.” He also advises married couples not to end their day without making peace. Steve didn’t say any of the three words at that moment; he provided what I needed most, a look that said, no matter what, I love you.

We talked about what had happened and what we could do differently the next time. I reminded him that my being short and driving a larger car than I used to drive affects my ability to gauge clear zones. He reminded me to stop turning the wheel to the right while exiting the garage!

Neither of us said anything about the snow blower, which showed no signs of damage from being bumped!

In the heat of the moment that morning, I told Steve he needed to move the snow blower out of the way. But there is no other space in the garage for it. In my reflection, I realized the need for compromise. Working on my garage-backing-up skills could become a small act of love on my part. Steve performs so many acts of love, and this is one way to reciprocate.

Marriage mentors journey with other married couples, sharing our stories and experiences, including our journey toward a deeper understanding of the fullness God intended for our marriages. We are to share our failings and our victories and to impart to the couples we mentor the practical tools needed to best live out the sacrament of marriage.

One of the exercises we participated in during marriage mentor training was a forgiveness and healing exercise that required us to spend 30 minutes alone with God to reflect on how we have hurt our spouse through the years. Privately, we expressed contrition to each other and promised to try our best, with God’s grace, to avoid those sins.

Pope Francis says that through the sacrament of marriage couples “are invested with a true and proper mission, so that, starting with the simple ordinary things of life they can make visible the love with which Christ loves his Church and continues to give his life for her (“The Joy of Love,” Amoris Laetitia, No. 120).”

Our garage door opened up the opportunity to find our way to Christ’s love.

(Contact Barb Arland-Fye at

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