Great Love Stories

We are traveling this week.  As we were thinking about a post Rita came across a story titled The 40 Greatest Love Stories of All Time. We think it is an addition to what we wrote last week.  She found it interesting that those love stories included biblical people, Adam and Eve and Jacob and Rachel, movie roles and literature couples such as Jane Eyre and Rochester, Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara and Romeo and Juliet.  There were presidents included, John and Abigail Adams, Rachel and Andrew Jackson, Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Harry and Bess Truman.  Other real live lovers such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, Antony and Cleopatra.  Hollywood celebrities such as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, George Burns and Gracie Allen and Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  Check out the URL above to see the entire list.

Of special note were some of the qualities that they had in common.

Many of them wrote to each other often during the length of their relationship, including Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Harry and Bess Truman.  It reminded us of the 25+ years that we wrote to each other every day as part of our daily dialogue technique.

Some suffered great tragedies:  Jane Eyre and Rochester, Romeo and Juliet,Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier and Jacob and Rachel.  We have been blessed to have had a wonderful life together relatively free of hardship.

Many spoke of the support they were to each other in times of difficulty. Jackie and Rachel Robinson as he made his way through major league baseball facing bigotry and harassment, was the target of insults, death threats and violence on the field.  He credits her with keeping him sane.  Nickie Ferrante and Terry McKay in “An Affair to Remember.” She loses the use of her legs in a car accident and doesn’t want him to know but he finds out and love triumphs.  This has been one of the things we work at the most in our marriage.  Whoever is working at a project, is most stressed, or needs a little encouragement, the other is there for him/her as his/her biggest cheerleader and fan.

Others worked together Robin Hood and Maid Marion who as sword wielding companions stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez (yes, we know they divorced) wanted to be together and formed the first independent production company. Their relationship, as seen on TV, is still spoken of.  George Burns and Gracie Allen worked together for 40 years as entertainers.  We like working together and it is one of the reasons we write this blog each week.

Pierre and Marie Curry.  He was willing to give up everything including his love of science to follow her back to Poland.  They didn’t go back and worked together with great results. Duke and Duchess of Windsor. King Edward VIII of England gave up his throne to marry “the woman I love.”  As we reflect back on our 47 years of marriage we don’t think we’ve given up very much but instead we have gained far more than we thought on the day in August when we said “I will.”

There are other things we could draw from the list such as age differences or different preferences but in the interest of brevity we stop.  An amusing comment came from Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy who, after 60 years of marriage, grew tired of being asked their secret.  When Mike Wallace asked the question during a “60 Minutes” interview, Tandy gave a deadpan answer that surprised him: “I don’t think this is really the time to announce this, but we were thinking of splitting up.” Cronyn added: “Jessie has got another fella, and I want to play the field.”  We, Bob and Rita, hope we can have at least 60 years together and live with that kind of sense of humor and fidelity.  Read the complete post here.

We would be remiss if during Holy Week we didn’t acknowledge the greatest love story of all time.  God sending His Son to us and His Son, Jesus dying for us.  Let us remember the greatest love in our human lives, each other, as we celebrate the joy of the Resurrection this Sunday.

Thoughts and comments are appreciated.

.__________________________________________________.

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetimeis available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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Good News about Men and Marriage

Recently, we wrote a blog about how marriage is treated in the sayings on T-shirts, posters, etc.  We found that most of the “humorous?’ phrases made marriage look bad and particularly men were portrayed as totally dominated by their wives.  That bothered us, especially Bob, so we went looking for real men who love and support their wives and whose wives consider themselves lucky to have the man they are married to.

Here is a widely reported story about Hector Cruze, who started Project Breastfeeding.  His project takes pictures of new fathers holding their breast-fed child in the feeding position.  They are bare-chested and some are covered with tattoos.  We get to see their tenderness and the story shows how the project started with a man’s empathy for his wife as she struggle with breast-feeding their newborn.  Read the USA today story here.

We found a blog, manwifeanddog.com with a surprisingly positive post about 5 Types of Men Who Make Good Husbands.  You may find them interesting- the blogger labels them, The Provider, The Rock, The Critical Thinker, The Believer, and The Free Spirit.  It may be a surprise that the blogger says she has met many women who are married to men who fit these descriptions and many of the men themselves.  You would not get this from listening to the stories and jokes about marriage that circulate everywhere.

Last week our topic was April Fool and other jokes married couples play on each other.  We got the following response from our longtime friend Paula. (reprinted with her permission) She was widowed in late 2012, after more than 50 years of marriage to Phil.  They were (and Paula still is) fun to be with and always had great stories to tell about the fun they had together.  We have said on many occasions that we want to be like them when we grow up.  Enjoy her story.

Thank you for reminding me of all the funny, crazy, loving times the two of had over the 52 years we were married playing little practical jokes on each other. Phil always said I was the more outrageous one, but he certainly pulled off his share of surprises — like in our earlier years, when I commented on a friend’s house having a light in their shower (a luxury at the time) and how special I thought that was — he taped a flashlight to our showerhead for me to find the next time I showered, along with a note that said, “Stick with me, baby, I’ll cover you with diamonds”. And, years later, in his retirement, when he had too much time on his hands, I came home to find on my pillow a paper necklace he had made out of diamond shaped pieces of paper and dental floss, along with a note that said, “I told you I’d cover you with diamonds — it just doesn’t get any better than this.” I treasure that paper necklace and I proudly wore it out to dinner and a meeting that night. I told him, “If we ever have a fire, this is the first thing I will try to save.” Thanks for the memories!!

Finally, we found this love poem with 7 others on yourtango.com.  Bob likes this one and notes that is written by a man.

Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea -
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

Take some time today to think about the husband you are or have.  We think it will bring smiles to your faces and perhaps a tear or two.  Please leave comments.  We appreciate them and you just might end up in our next post (with permission of course).


Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

 

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Family, Intimacy in Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Playfulness in Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April Fool’s and Other Days

Yesterday was April Fools day and it made us think and talk about what role healthy fun has in a thriving relationship.  Some ideas for tricks to play on the other came up.  They included:

* placing double-sided tape a few sheets back on the toilet tissue role.

* create alarms and alerts for goofy fake appointments on his/her cell phone especially quirky things to do with you.

*place fake bugs i.e. roaches at various places where your spouse will find them; in the shower or cabinet.

*switch around the drawers so that socks are where undies should be or shirts where socks should be

*add a few drops of food coloring to the milk container.

There were two on the list that we have actually done for/with each other.  One suggestion was to fill the other’s car with balloons.  Rita actually did this for Bob’s car one day.  She and the kids blew up hundreds of balloon and took them to the parking lot at the college.  They stuffed the car with balloons.  When he opened the door they began to float out across the parking lot, and some were there for weeks to come.

The other was to get googly eyes from a craft store and mount them in various places that your spouse would find them with a note saying: “I see you!”  One Lent Bob decided he was going to spend more time and find ways to tell Rita how important she was to him so one day he drew a picture of two big eyes and placed them on the wall in the shower.  As she showered those eyes watched her.

We were home from our honeymoon for only a few days and Rita was in the shower.  When she came out Bob took the opportunity to snap a towel at her bottom.  She surprised him by yelling:  “Wife beater!”  It was August, and the windows were open, as were the windows of nearby apartments. He found himself suddenly embarrassed and insisting that Rita be quiet.  We ended up laughing about it then and have continued to laugh about it throughout our marriage.

Years later Bob turned the tables on Rita.  We were grocery shopping in the middle of the afternoon when he sneaked up behind her and propositioned her and made suggestive remarks.  She was red with embarrassment and kept looking around to be sure no one else could hear and she tried to get him to stop.  He continues to do this every once in a while.  She has gotten better, but it still makes her uncomfortable, even while she is laughing.  She has retaliated by calling him a “Dirty Old Man.”  His response is that she would be disappointed if he weren’t.

As all good friends, we have inside jokes and funny activities that we engage in together.  Through the years Rita has gotten into a kind of hit and run activity when Bob is in the shower.  He is happily showering himself, totally unaware that she is in the room and she bombs him with a big container of cold water, then quickly runs out of the room, usually before he figures out what has happened.  Bob has jokingly said that he doesn’t get mad, he gets even, so after biding his time, and he thinks she has forgotten, he does  the same thing to her.  We have on occasion made a mess in our bathroom that we would not have tolerated from our children.  But it’s fun.

While we didn’t actually play a trick on each other yesterday it did bring smiles to our faces as we talked about the things we have done.

Being able to laugh at the other or, more especially, with each other, is a wonderful way to remind yourselves of how special you are to each other.  There are a few caveats to avoid.  One spouse packed a suitcase and told their spouse they were leaving.  Not exactly funny, in our book.  It is not a good idea in most cases to play a trick when the two of you are in the middle of a disagreement.  It can’t aways be one-sided where one spouse is always the recipient of the other’s activities.  It will mostly like end up with the other getting hurt.  Don’t let it develop into a competitive activity.  A game of one upsmanship will eventually lead to hurt. It is important to remember that some jokes or attempts at fun may not come out the way they were intended.  A friend was on a business trip and missed his wife and brought home to her a teddy that he spent time buying.  She was mortified and told him she would never wear it. In those situations it helps to focus on the intention and appreciate the love that went into the joke.  After the awkwardness is over, you may find that you enjoy telling the story.  All jokes don’t necessarily have to lead to sex although some might have that effect.

Fun, having fun, planning fun are important.  For one thing they help us focus, if only for a short time, on the other and let the other know that s/he is important.  Our lives get too serious, so it is important as husband and wife to have some fun on occasion.  You don’t have to wait for April 1.

We hope you enjoy this and we’d love to hear how you have had fun together.  Remember, the goal is not to make a fool of the other but let him/her know how much they are loved.

__________________________________________.

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Intimacy in Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Marriage in the Church, Playfulness in Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are T-Shirts Bad for Marriage?

Recently Rita was exercising at the mall and noticed a new T-shirt shop had opened. The shirt that caught her attention was attached to the door with the likely intent of drawing people into the shop. The shirt said, “I don’t need Google, my wife knows everything. Needless to say she didn’t find it funny. It reminded us once again of an ongoing discussion we have had in recent years about what wer really should be doing to defend marriage. We have thought for some time that marriage is being destroyed by those who are married, by the media, by the drive for financial gain, as much as by anything else. It is attitudes and information that is subtly or not so subtly put out there for us to laugh at that might be as responsible for the marriage statistics as anything else. We decided to take a look at other T-shirts that are commonly marketed and worn.

Here is a list of some of the comments we found on T-shirts and posters.

“Marriage is a relationship in which one is always right, the other is the husband.”
“I’m the boss, my wife said I could be.”
A shirt with a wedding photo and the words, “Game over.”
“Marriages don’t fail, wives fail.”
“Happy Wife, Happy Life”
“The Doomed Groom”
“A man is not complete until marriage… then he’s finished”
“Friends don’t let friends get married.”
“My wife is giving me the silent treatment. She thinks she’s punishing me.”
“Marriage has three rings. Engagement ring, Wedding ring and Suffering” We actually heard a priest start a homily on the Wedding feast at Cana with this.
“Real men don’t ask for directions. They get lost over and over again until the wife finally asks”
“Marriage is a work shop. Husband works. Wife shops.”
“You have two choices in life. Stay single and be miserable. Get married and wish you were dead”

All of these things and others, the remarks people make when someone is getting married, even things said by priests in homilies, don’t make marriage desirable and subtly support getting out when the going gets tough.

In all honesty we saw a few that said
“My wife rocks”
“My husband is awesome.
“I Love My Wife”

We would have to say that marriage is a life sentence, not in the way it it is depicted on a T-shirt, but an opportunity to experience the greatest things life has to offer. Rita isn’t the boss nor is Bob. It is in working together that we have experienced the joy of marriage. Neither of us think that our lives were “finished” when we got married. It was the beginning of a wonderful journey with each other that took us places that we never thought or imagined we would go. We are certainly glad that our parents and friends encouraged and supported us when we were preparing for marriage and have continued to do so.

Don’t you think it is time that those of us who are joyfully married stand up against the crap that is out there and speak to the wonders that marriage provides?  We need to stop laughing at the bad jokes, certainly never wear one of the T-shirts that puts marriage down, and speak out to all about the joys and benefits of being married. It just might have a positive effect on the marriage/divorce statistics.

P.S. Just in case you think we have completely lost our sense of humor, we find this one funny. A refrigerator magnet contains a picture of a man and a woman on horse back riding past an old-style outhouse. She says: “Hank, there’s something I’ve always wanted to know:  Why is it a good thing for a girl to be built like one of those?”

We welcome your comments.

_________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Catholic Marriage, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Newlyweds | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Bob’s Reflection on the Wedding Feast at Cana

We are working with our pastor, Fr. Terry Keehan, exploring why people marry and why they stay married.  One of the tasks we set for ourselves is to each write a short reflection on the Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana.  Last week we posted Rita’s reflection.  This week we post Bob’s. We hope that you will find them enlightening and uplifting.

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding* in Cana* in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.a 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.3When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”4* [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”b 5His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”c 6* Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,d each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it. 9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom10and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs* in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.e

12* After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.*

To start my reflection I want to point out that this is a situation in which Jesus was not the serious teacher that we see most of the time in the bible.  If we just focus on the miracle, we lose something else that I think is important about Jesus.  Here we find him, with his disciples, at a PARTY.  Think about it, Jesus went to parties!  Can we imagine that he came to the feast to teach and impart great pearls of wisdom?  I have to believe that he came to party, to enjoy being with his friends and enjoy some wine – a rare opportunity to see Him as human.  The Gospel writers had other things on their minds, but the discussion in the early Church about his humanity led to some serious heresies, which were settled in the teaching that He was fully human, as well as fully God.  We know from scripture that he was a charismatic figure, which I suspect has a lot to do with His humanity.  One other place where we can infer Jesus’ humanity is in the story where he chides his disciples and says:  “Let the children come to me.”  That story always brings back memories of my uncle, who was a priest, playing games with my siblings and me as we were growing up.  I can imagine Jesus teasing and laughing with the children as my uncle did.  Perhaps it would be easier to develop a strong relationship with Jesus, if we became more aware of His human side.

Even the miracle may be, in part, a manifestation of his humanity.  He certainly showed respect for the commandment to honor one’s parent in responding to Mary.  He must have been concerned about the shame for the bride and groom at running out of wine.  But I think there was another reason – he saw the wedding as an important event in the lives of the bride and groom as well as for the community and that it deserved/required a celebration.  He wanted the celebration to continue unabated and fulfill the customs of the time.  It occurs to me to wonder whether Jesus drank some of the wine from those jars?  See what happens when you start to allow yourself to think of Jesus as human, as well as divine!  For me it is a source of joy!

Jesus preached constantly about loving others and must have known that special kind of love between a husband and wife that leads to their becoming one in heart and mind, body and spirit.  He had to be aware that loving couples are a sign to each other of His love for them and their couple love as a sign of His love in the community.  It can encourage all married couples to love each other in our human way, with joy, caring and sometimes a party, and know that Jesus is there to party with us.

We hope you will find encouragement in this reading. for your marriage and all marriages.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

________________________________.

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Newlyweds, Wedding Anniversary | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Rita’s Reflection on the Wedding Feast at Cana

We are working with our pastor, Fr. Terry Keehan, exploring why people marry and why they stay married.  One of the tasks we set for ourselves is to each write a short reflection on the Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana.  This week we are posting Rita’s reflection.  Next week we will post Bob’s.  We hope that you will find them enlightening and uplifting.

John 2:1-12
On the third day there was a wedding* in Cana* in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.a 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.3When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”4* [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”b 5His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”c 6* Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,d each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it. 9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom10and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs* in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
12 After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.*

Beyond the obvious that Jesus worked His first miracle at a wedding this passage is rich in ideas to use to affirm, strengthen and encourage married couples.  I think verse 11 speaks in a unique way to marriage, Jesus’ place in the lives of married couples and the mission that couples are given on their wedding day.  In verse 11 there are three terms that stand out; sign, revealed glory and believe.  Sacrament, by definition, is a visible sign of an inward grace.  Sign points us in the direction of something and grace is God’s presence in our lives.  Jesus first sign, as John refers to miracles, points us in the direction of God, God’s Kingdom and the Kingdom of heaven.  There is grace in His actions that makes it possible for others to accomplish what He commands them to do.  This is exactly what the Sacrament of Marriage is for couples who stand before God and the Church on their wedding day.  A couple getting married is a sign of revealed glory and an invitation to believe to the community of the Church gathered that day.  They embody the love that God has for us.  The wonder and beauty of the Sacrament is that it isn’t a one day occurrence, but continues everyday of a couples life as they strive to live the covenant that began on their wedding day.  Their very presence at the altar is a sign of their love for each other and a testimony to their belief that two individuals, from different backgrounds, life experiences or desires can stand before all and profess that it is their desire to become one in mind, heart, spirit and affection.  It is a sign of great courage. While they have been through marriage preparation, have witnessed marriages of others and likely for some period of time lived in a home where their parents strove to do what they are professing to do on this day, in the end there is no blueprint, no owners manual or insurance policy.  What they have is their mutual love for each other that is more than a feeling but a decision of the will to live together and love each other as long as both of them are alive.  They may not be neon lights but they are a beacons of hope to all.

As they live out their marriage together they become signs and symbols of revealed glory for all who encounter their love.  In no other relationship is there the type of commitment that there is in marriage.  Even the relationship between parent and child does not portray what marriage is.  Nowhere else is there the glory of what love, trust, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and a desire for justice shown than when two people are determined to continue a journey toward oneness.  In that process they give testimony to the love that God has not only for the Church but for all humankind.

Just as the disciples began to believe when they saw Jesus work this sign, so too, others begin to believe that love and hope are possible as they observe this couple, who may be their children, siblings, cousins or friends, stand up and freely promise to love whether there are good times or not so good ones, whether they have money or not and whether they have illnesses or are healthy.  But the real testimony of faith and inviting others to believe and have hope comes from the years in which they live this out for all to see.

Marriage is a wonderful journey with an awesome spouse that enable them to be seen as God’s sign, God’s presence, revealed to them in all the glory that no fairy tale writer could put on paper.  On that journey the two learn that more is possible than they could have conceived or believed and that becomes the knowledge of God’s power, majesty and grace in their lives.

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Catholic Marriage, Courtship, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church | Tagged , , , , ,

Pope Francis on the Marriage Celebration Question 3

Question 3: The style of the celebration of marriage Your Holiness, in these months we are making many preparations for our wedding. Can you give some advice to celebrate our marriage well?

Make sure that it is a real treat – because the wedding is a celebration – a Christian celebration, not a secular party! The Gospel of John indicates the deeper reason for the joy of that day: remember the miracle of the wedding at Cana? At a certain point the wine runs out, and the celebration seems ruined. Imagine ending the celebration drinking tea! No, this is not the way! Without wine there is no party! At Mary’s suggestion, that’s when Jesus is revealed for the first time and gives you a sign: he changes the water into wine and, in doing so, saves the wedding celebration. What happened in Cana two thousand years ago, happens in reality in every wedding party. What will make your wedding full and deeply true will be the presence of the Lord who reveals and gives his grace. It is his presence that offers the “good wine”. He is the secret of full joy that truly warms the heart. It is the presence of Jesus in that party. May it be a beautiful celebration, but with Jesus! Not with the spirit of the world, no! This is how it is, when the Lord is there.

At the same time, however, it is good that your marriage is sober and make clear what is really important. Some are more concerned about the outward signs: the banquet, the photographs, the clothes and the flowers … These things are important in a celebration, but only if they are able to point out the real reason of your joy: the Lord’s blessing on your love. Make sure that, like wine at Cana, the outward signs of your celebration reveal the presence of the Lord and remind you and everyone what is the source and the reason for your joy.

But there is something that you said and I want to take flying, because I will not let it pass. Marriage is also a work for every day, I could say craftwork, a goldsmith’s work, because the husband has a duty to make his wife more a woman and the wife has the task of making her husband more of a man. Grow in humanity, as man and as woman. And that is done between yourselves. This is called growing together. This does not come out of the air! The Lord blesses it, but it comes from your hands, by your attitudes, the way of living, the way you love one another. Grow together! Always act so that the other person will grow. Work for this. And so, maybe , I think that one day you will go through the streets of your country and people will say: “Just look at that woman, so beautiful, so strong! … it’s the husband she has, you know.” And to you too: “Look at him, what he is like! … it’s the wife he has, you know.”

This is it: get this: make us grow together, each of us. And the children will have this heritage to have had a father and a mother who have grown together, making of themselves – each of them – more a man and more a woman!

(Rita and Bob’s Comments)
Pope Francis has a way of putting things into a perspective that makes sense to us. I have been thinking about this passage, trying to get a handle on it for another project we are working on and was getting nowhere until I read these remarks. He tells us that a wedding is an event that deserves a celebration, a major celebration, too big and important for afternoon tea. A wedding calls for toasts – with wine, music and dancing that celebrates the couple and the presence of Jesus with them as they begin their life together. It also suggests something about Jesus. We tend to take Jesus very seriously, but his response to Mary’s request indicates that He wanted the celebration to go on. I suspect that Jesus was a lot more fun to be around than the gospels tell us. He wants this couple to be joyful and fun-loving in His presence throughout their marriage.

Francis also suggests what the work of a marriage relationship is about – growing together, husband and wife each becoming a better person because of their relationship with each other. The final chapter of our book is titled “The Power of Love”. In it each of us tells the story of how we came to be better people today than we were on our wedding day. The experience of loving and being loved by another has transformed each of us and brought out the best we can be. I also think his point about our love being visible to the others is true and explains why great marriages are so important to the world. Francis’ words say it well: “Just look at that woman, so beautiful, so strong! … it’s the husband she has, you know.” And to you too: “Look at him, what he is like! … it’s the wife he has, you know.” Our marriages really can change the world in which we live in the way we touch the lives of those around us.

Please offer us your comments and perhaps a bit you your story.

Posted in Catholic Marriage, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Newlyweds, Pope Francis, Pope Francis on Marriage | Tagged , , , , , ,

Pope Francis to Engaged Couples, Question 2

As we promised last week, this week we share with you the the second question  Pope Francis addressed in his talk to engaged couples on Valentine’s day.

Question 2: Living together: the “style” of married life

Holiness, to live together every day is beautiful, it gives joy, it supports. But it is a challenge to face. We believe that we must learn to love each other. There is a “style” of married life, a spirituality of daily life that we want to achieve. Can you help us in this, Holy Father?

Living together is an art, a patient way, handsome and charming. It does not end when you have each been possessed by the other … Indeed, it is precisely then that it starts! This daily journey has rules that can be summed up in these three words you’ve spoken, words which I have repeated many times to families: “Please”, or “May I”, you have said; “Thank you “; and “Excuse me”. “Please – May I? “. It’s the courteous request to be able to enter into the life of someone else life with respect and care. We must learn to ask: May I do this? Would
you like that we do this? We take this initiative, and that we bring up our children like this. Would you like to go out tonight? … In short, to ask for agreement is to enter the lives of others with courtesy. But keep this in mind: to be able to enter into the lives of others with courtesy. It is not easy, it is not easy. Sometimes instead, the manners can be a bit heavy, like hiking boots! True love is not imposed by toughness and aggression. In the Little Flowers of St. Francis is this expression: “Know that courtesy is one of the properties of God … and courtesy is the sister of charity, which extinguishes hate and
protects love” (Ch. 37). Yes, courtesy protects love. And today in our families, in our world, which is often violent and arrogant, we need much more courtesy. And this can begin at home.

“Thank you .” It seems easy to say the word, but we know that is not always so … But it’s important! We teach it to the children, but then we forget it ourselves! Gratitude is an important quality ! An old woman once said to me in Buenos Aires: “Gratitude is a flower that grows in the noble land.” Nobility of the soul is necessary to grow this flower. Remember the Gospel of Luke? Jesus heals ten who are sick with leprosy, and then only one returns to say thanks to Jesus. The Lord says, and the other nine, where are they? This is also true for us: do we know how to say thanks? In your relationship, and then tomorrow in married life, it is important to keep alive the awareness that the other person is a gift of God, and for the gifts of God to say thank you! And in this inner attitude say thanks to each other for everything. It is not a kind word to use just with strangers, to show you are educated. It is necessary to know how to say thank you, in order to get along well together in married life.

The third thing: ” I’m sorry . ” In life we make so many errors, many mistakes. We all do it. But maybe there is someone here who has never made a mistake? Raise your hand if there is someone there, a person who has never made a mistake? We all do it! All! There is no day when we do not make some mistake. The Bible says that the very best person sins seven times a day. And so we do mistakes … This then is why we need to use this simple word “sorry”. Generally, each of us is ready to accuse others and justify one’s self. This began with our father Adam, when God asks him: “Adam, have you eaten of that fruit?”. “Me? No! She is the one who gave it to me! ” Accusing the other person so as not to say “sorry”, “pardon.” It’s an old story! It’s an instinct that is at the origin of many disasters. We learn to recognize our mistakes and apologize. “Sorry if I raised my voice today,” “I’m sorry if I went without saying goodbye,” “I’m sorry if I’m late,” “If I have been so unresponsive this week”, “If I talked too much without ever listening”, “Excuse me, I forgot”, “I was angry and I’m sorry I’ve taken it
out on you”… So many times to say “sorry” each day, we can say. This is how a
Christian family grows. We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect family, nor even the perfect husband or the perfect wife. We do not speak of the perfect mother-in-law …. Sinners, that’s what we are. Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: never end a day without asking for forgiveness, without peace coming back to our house, to our family. It is normal that there be a quarrel between husband and wife, but there’s always something to do about it. We had a fight … Maybe you’re angry, maybe a plate flew, but please remember this: never finish the day without making peace! Never, never, never! This is a secret, a secret to protect love and to make peace. It is not necessary to make a
beautiful speech … Sometimes the right gesture,… and peace is made. Never finish the day … because if you end the day without making peace, what you have inside, the next day is cold and hard and it is harder to make peace. Remember well: never finish the day without peace! If we learn to ask pardon and forgive each other, the marriage will last, and will move ahead. When elderly couples come to the audiences or to Mass here in Santa Marta, who celebrate their 50th anniversary, I ask the question: “Who has put up with whom?” This is marvelous! They all look at one another, then look at me, and tell me: “Both of us.” And this is beautiful! This is a beautiful testimony!

(Bob and Rita’s thoughts)

Pope Francis’ advice in his response to this question is all about respecting each other.  These three words are some of the most important ways that we can offer respect to the other.  “Please..” and “May I…”, or similar words I choose in a given situation, offers Rita a chance to say “No” and lets her know that I am listening to her.  Even when she has said “Yes” in the same situation many times in the past, it tells her that I am not taking her for granted.  For example, when one of us gets the mail, we will never open mail addressed to other without first asking for permission.  As we have developed a sensitivity to those things that can perhaps sound like a criticism to the other, we have found other ways to defuse situations that might otherwise lead to tension.  We have learned to replace statements with questions that show respect.  They sometimes involve simple things like replacing “I want to go to the 9:00 Mass this weekend.”, with.  “It would work out well for me to go to the 9:00 Mass this weekend, how does that work for you?  When our son was in high school, he initiated a question that he would ask on weekend mornings – he would ask, “What is our POA, meaning Plan Of Action” for the day.  We still use that often, usually before we get out of bed, to get in touch with each other’s expectations for the day.  It allows us to have a discussion and work out a combined schedule that reflects the other’s expectations for the day.  This approach continues to help our days together run more smoothly.

I have always been grateful for Rita, our children, the material things we have and have tried to thank God every day.  Several years ago we wrote a presentation on couple prayer.  In the process we used a book about prayer that reminded us that part of our daily prayer should be our gratitude to God, for each other, for all God’s blessings and to praise God as our Creator.  That struck a chord with us and we pledged to make every day an opportunity to express our gratitude.  Since then I try to take every opportunity to be thankful, not just in prayer, but in everything I do.  We thank the checkout person in a store, the wait staff in a restaurant and anyone who offers us a small kindness.  We thank the priest for a good homily at Mass and our children for all the things they do for us.  I also thank God each day for the many good people who have touched my life.  When I ride my bike, I marvel at the wonders of nature along the path and give thanks.  Living our lives with gratitude has changed us.  We find many reasons to be joyful every day.

Contrary to the catchphrase of the 1970 film, Love Story, love doesn’t mean “never having to say you’re sorry”.  As Pope Francis says, we all make mistakes every day.  Deliberately and inadvertently, we say and do things that disrespect our spouse.  I usually know almost immediately when I have said or done something that is a put-down or that will hurt Rita and know that I have to say or do something let her know that I regret what I have done.  In little things, a simple, “I’m sorry” and maybe a hug or kiss is enough, but some things require more.  In those situations we believe that we must directly ask for forgiveness of the other.  It is also important to offer forgiveness when asked.  Our experience is that asking for and offering forgiveness doesn’t always make the feelings of hurt instantly go away, but is necessary to start a process of healing.  This is especially true when hurts are deep.  One of the great things about being married for a long time and having the experience of wounding and healing, being wounded and being healed, is that we have learned to trust the process.  We know that we will get through the current situation and will still be together, confident that there is more fun and joy ahead for us.

We would like to hear your comments.

_____________________________________.

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Catholic Marriage, Couple Prayer, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Newlyweds, Pope Francis, Pope Francis on Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Pope Francis on Marriage that Lasts Forever

On Valentine’s Day Pope Francis met with engaged couples in St. Peter’s Square.  He had couples submit questions to him before the meeting and he chose three that he responded to as he spoke to them  His responses speak to married couples just as they do those preparing for marriage.  This post and the next two weeks will be based on his address. 

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO COUPLES PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE

St. Peter’s Square, Friday, February 14, 2014

Question 1: The fear of “forever”

Your Holiness, many today think that to promise loyalty for life is too difficult an undertaking; many feel that the challenge of living together forever is beautiful, fascinating, but too demanding, almost impossible. We ask for your words to enlighten us on this.

( The Pope’s response)  Thank you for your testimony and for your question. Let me explain: You have send me your questions in advance … You understand … And so I was able to reflect and think about an answer a bit more substantial.

It’s important to ask whether it is possible to love one another “forever”. This is a question we need to ask: Can you love each other “forever”? Today many people are afraid to make definitive choices. A boy said to his bishop: “I want to become a priest, but only for ten years.” He was afraid to make a definitive choice. But it is a general fear, particular to our culture. Making choices for the rest of their lives seems impossible. Today everything is changing rapidly, nothing lasts long … And this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, “We’ll stay together as long as love lasts,” and then what? “All the best, and we’ll see each other around”… And thus ends the marriage. But what do we mean by “love”? Just a feeling, a psychological and physical condition? Sure, if that’s what it is, it cannot be built on solid ground.

But if love is a relationship , then it is a reality that grows, and we can also say by way of example that is built like a house. And we build the house together, not on our own! Building here means to encourage and help growth. Dear engaged people, you are preparing to grow together, to build this house, to live together forever. You do not want to base it on the sand of feelings that come and go, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God. The family is born from this project of love that wants to grow as you build a home that is a place of affection , help, hope, and support. As the love of God is permanent and forever, so also is love that founds the family: we want it to be stable and forever. Please, we must not let ourselves be conquered by the “culture of what is provisional”! This culture that invades us all today, this culture of the provisional. This does not work!

So how to cure this fear of “forever”? It is cured day by day entrusting ourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made up of steps – small steps, steps of growth together – made in a commitment to become men and women mature in faith. Why, dear engaged couples, the “forever” is not only a matter of duration! A marriage is not successful if it just endures, but its quality is important. Being together and knowing how to love forever is the challenge of Christian spouses. I am reminded of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread: for you, the Lord can multiply your love and give it to you fresh and good every day. He has an endless supply! He gives you the love that is the foundation of your marriage and every day he renews it, strengthens it. It makes it even greater when the family grows with children. In this journey, prayer is important, it is necessary, always. Him for her, and her for him, and her both together. Ask Jesus to multiply your love.

In the Lord’s Prayer we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The bride and groom can learn to pray like that: “Lord, give us this day our daily love,” because the love of the spouses is the daily bread, the true bread of the soul, that which supports them to move forward. And the prayer: can we do a test to find out if we know how to say it? “Lord, give us this day our daily love.”

All together: [Engaged couples: "Lord, give us this day our daily love!”]
Say it again: [Engaged couples: "Lord, give us this day our daily love!"]

This is the prayer of engaged couples and married people. Teach us to love, to love each other! The more you entrust yourselves to the Lord, the more your love will be “forever”, capable of renewal, and will overcome every difficulty. That’s what I thought I wanted to tell you, responding to your question. Thank you!

 

Thoughts from Bob and Rita 

We found this response from Pope Francis quite uplifting and affirming.  We believe that as long as the two individuals in a relationship are growing as persons and use that growth to deepen and strengthen the love they share then, yes in indeed it can last forever.  It is the reason we chose the title for our book, Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.  The “forever” becomes more attainable when a couple is constantly looking at ways to communicate, to strengthen their sexual communication and most importantly to engage in an active relationship with God.  Couples need to find a method of communication that works for them.  For nearly thirty years we wrote our thoughts and feelings on a chosen topic each day.  We read what each other had written and then talked about it. It helped us to discover our own attitudes, thoughts, feelings and convictions as we wrote them for each other and then allowed the other to know us better by sharing them.  The purpose was not to force either of us to change, but as we learned about ourselves and the effect that had on the other, we couldn’t help but change.  We each became more of the person that God intended us to be and helped us to have the love necessary to found a family.  While we no longer write each day we still experience the results of that each day in our ability to share ourselves with each other..

While Pope Francis didn’t directly address a sexual relationship we have no doubt that he would encourage couples to grow in that area of their relationship as well.  The tenderness and intimacy that has grown as we talked about our sexual relationship and lived that out in our love making has also helped us to be the married couple that God wants for each of us.

We know we would not be where we are today in our relationship without recognizing that God and God’s love must be the center of our love.  While we did many things to improve our communication and our sexual intimacy we know that it would not have happened if we did not trust God, draw on God’s strength, and allow God to work many miracles within us.  We have never doubted the importance and power of prayer in our marriage.  It is the spiritual cement that binds us together.  We really like his asking the engaged couples and us to pray each day “Give us this day our daily love.”  We believe this could transform marriage and if said with children could help solidify and transform families.

Please share your responses to Pope Francis in a comment, so that others can benefit from your insights.

_______________________________________________.

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Catholic Marriage, Couple Prayer, Couple Relationships, Courtship, Dating, Family, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Newlyweds, Parenting, Pope Francis, Pope Francis on Marriage, Sexuality in Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Love is…

1Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Likely the scripture reading most often read at weddings is I Corinthians 13:4-8.  It will also be seen on numerous greeting cards etc. this Friday, Valentine’s Day.  As we talked today we wondered how people live this out in a marriage that is to last forever.  What follows are some thoughts that we’d like to share.

1.      Love is patient and kind.

The two go together.  Most people aren’t married very long before they realize that the person they married isn’t perfect.  However what keeps that person the “perfect” one is patience and kindness.  For me (Rita) I discovered that it takes Bob a long time to make decisions and to spend money.  He even has to spend a long time trying to decide what to play when we are playing a game of Scrabble.  As we age he has a harder time hearing and so many times I need to repeat or speak louder.  But it is the kindness that he shows me at other times that give me the patience to love him even more.

2.      It does not envy, boast nor is it proud.

I think these three aspects of what love is not can be wrapped together.  They are all about seeing the value and the goodness in your spouse and rejoicing in it.  For me it is about seeing Rita’s great ability to have a positive influence on the lives of her students and  being happy for her and for the students she touched.  It is recognizing that she had abilities in that area, that I will never have and not letting myself wish that I either had those abilities or that she did not.  I learned instead to be thankful to God and delighted that I get to spend my life with such a good and talented person.  Sometimes it was tempting to say something about myself to prove that I am also a good person and also have talents, but I learned to enjoy being present and sharing the joy of others as they honored her.

3.      It does not dishonor others, it not self-seeking.

While Bob is a wonderful father and grandfather, was quite successful when he taught, very good at doing consulting work and inspires people when we do enrichment activities, he always makes sure that I get credit with everything that I do.  He does a great job of affirming me and goes out of his way to verbally support me.  When people talk about what I have done for them or how good I am at what I do he says “I know and I get to live with her.”  While he likes to be affirmed he encourages me to have lunch with my friends, go shopping with our daughter  and daughters-in-law, likes that I take the granddaughters for our annual spa day and lunch and marvels at the way I read to our grandchildren.  Yet he receives his own accolades and nothing lights up his face more than when Greta stretches out her arms and says, “Grandpa”   with a look she has for no one else.

4.      It is not easily angered.  It keeps no records of wrongs.

In every relationship there are times when one of the partners feels neglected, or wronged by something their spouse says.  We can’t totally control our feelings, so they will come, but we can decide how to respond to them.  When Rita does something that makes me angry, I try to avoid saying anything immediately, while I may say something that I will regret later.  Instead, I wait for a while and often decide that it wasn’t important enough to even bring it up. If it stays with me I will eventually bring it up for discussion, but in a situation where we can have a calm discussion.  Keeping no record of wrongs doesn’t necessarily mean that I will forget and issue or something hurtful, but I make a decision never to bring it up or use it in a future argument.Luv Ya 

5.      Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

One of Bob’s best qualities is that he does not hold onto a grudge.  He faces whatever difficulty comes his way and then moves on.  It doesn’t matter what I say or don’t say, do or forget to do or ask him to do or not do.  It doesn’t affect the way he responds to me.  I’m sure that after 47 years of marriage he could write volumes on what I could or should have done but he doesn’t ever delight in the shortcomings of another, most especially me.  He is a truth seeker and will defend the truth.  He does this most often when he perceives that someone is not treating me the right way. 

6.      Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

For most of us, most of the time, protecting our spouse from physical abuse isn’t an issue.  It is more likely that he or she will find themselves in a situation of verbal abuse or an emotionally difficult situation.  When I see Rita in a situation like that, I try to move in and remove her from the situation or redirect attention to myself.  There are other times when I see that she is burdened by a situation and I offer to listen or just hold her.  When Rita does or says something, without realizing its effect, and I begin to wonder whether she is angry with me, I have learned to trust in her love and let it go.  Often, it isn’t long until she walks by gives me a gentle pat or says something that reassures me and all is well.

It is always good to be living my life with Rita and that gives me hope for the future.  We always look ahead and plan good things for our future.  At this point in our lives we know that travel will become harder for us in the future, but hope allows us to keep discussion of future travel alive.  We have confidence in our love for each other and are confident that we will still love each other and be with each other when our plans for the future are curtailed.

7.      Love never fails.  People say a lot about love but when we stop and think about it we all seek love, need love to survive.  We grow and blossom when we are loved.  I can certainly speak to that.  I sought out Bob when we were in high school.  We made the decision to be married and live a life of commitment in love.  I know that I have more than survived because Bob loved me.  Through difficult times, when things weren’t going my way, when I have been hurt by others and when I lost someone close to me his/our love enabled me to get through whatever came my/our way.  While I can still be recognized by my high school friends I have become a different person in all ways because Bob loved/loves me.  He has never failed to love me and has his love has never failed me.

Take a little time this week to reflect on the words of this passage.  You won’t need to give each other gifts but you can if you like.  Reflecting on the gifts of love as described in this passage will be wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts.

Please share with us what you see as the gifts of your love

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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