When Edward Sri first read Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), he did so from the perspective of a husband, a father, a theology professor, not to mention a soccer dad.

Sri, a professor of theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, is the content director for a marriage preparation and enrichment program used in parishes across the country, titled “Beloved: Finding Happiness in Marriage.”

He and his wife Elizabeth also have seven children, with another due at the end of April. Five of their children play soccer, and he coaches two of their teams.

The papal document, he said, can “help people see their own love story in the context of a larger love story – God’s love for us. That’s what marriage is all about.”

The exhortation emphasizes that Catholic couples are called to reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus, Sri said, adding, “That’s the blueprint for marriage and family life.”

Reading the exhortation was a very moving experience for him, he said, praising the pope’s pastoral approach and style of writing that addresses real-life challenges for families, such as raising children in virtue in an era with hand-held and technical devices inundating them with very different ideas on what love and marriage mean.

Pope Francis also writes about how husbands can come home tired and distracted from work, and as a result not communicate enough with their wives and children.

The pope repeats homespun advice, like not letting the sun go down on anger among family members, and the importance of husbands, wives and children often saying “please,” “thank you,” and “sorry” to each other.

“The right words, spoken at the right time, daily protect and nurture love,” Francis writes.

Sri cautions Catholics not to try sitting down and reading the 256-page document cover to cover, a point echoed by Pope Francis in his introduction to the document, where the pontiff warns against “a rushed reading of the text” and encourages people to read parts that deal with their needs.

“It is my hope that in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life,” the pope writes.

Andy Lichtenwalner, executive director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recommends that married couples read the document and reflect on it together, and pray about what it means for them and their family.

“That would be a beautiful way to unpack it,” he said.

He and his wife Kristen have three children younger than five, and he appreciated how the document encouraged couples to live out their marriage vocation every day, and he was moved by the pope’s description of conjugal love as a deep friendship that is always called to grow.

Asked about the tone of the document, Lichtenwalner said, “I think they’re going to see a pastor with a heart for married couples and families” and the joys and struggles they face, reflecting on the daily journey of husbands and wives and fathers and mothers.

“That’s what accompaniment is all about, walking with (them), on a journey to Christ,” he said.

Margaret McCarthy, an assistant professor of theological anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America, noted that in the document’s fourth chapter, “The Holy Father offers a very rich meditation on First Corinthians 13, where St. Paul talks about the nature of love.”

McCarthy, who is married and has three children ages 21-16, noted that Pope Francis’s reflection on that famous “Love is patient, love is kind…” passage from the Bible “can be very useful for a couple to read individually or together.”

Tim O’Malley, the director of the Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, said individuals and couples can use the document like a mirror, and pray about and discern how they can live it out in their home and community.

“It’s a highly readable, earthy document, especially for people who are not theologians,” said O’Malley.

He and his wife Kara have a 3-year-old son.

“I was reading it as a theologian and father and husband,” he said. “I found myself constantly moved and challenged by it.”

(Zimmermann writes for Crux out of Washington, where he also serves as editor of the Catholic Standard newspaper and website of the Archdiocese of Washington.)