Enthusiasm

This Sunday the celebrant at our parish was a visiting pastor from an African American/Hispanic parish in Chicago.  From the time he got to the altar he drew people in and the entire celebration was different.  He insisted that people respond vocally to the prayers and to statements he made in introducing himself and in the homily.  The congregation was hesitant at first.  We are accustomed to being rather passive during mass, but the responses of the people became more enthusiastic as Mass progressed.  We observed increasing enthusiasm and joy in ourselves and the whole congregation. Fr Eyerman’s enthusiasm for the liturgy and for the Gospel he preached touched us in a very good way.  We have worked with many priests over the years and this is the second time we have experienced a priest who is transformed in his celebration of joy in the Mass and Gospels after being assign to African-American parishes.  Perhaps we should look more to them for inspiration and thank them for their ebullience in their spiritual celebrations.  They celebrate the liturgy with an enthusiasm, fervor and reverence that is contagious.  We thanked Fr. Eyerman after Mass and told him that we might reference him in our blog this week.  He graciously told us to use whatever we found useful.

The enthusiasm he showed and his ability to draw others into what was happening reminded us of the times when we were involved with people who were excited about being married and drew others into that excitement.  Our association with couples who loved being married and wanted the World to know about it has played a large role in supporting us for most of our marriage.  Instead of complaining about the sad state of marriage, might we do more good by being “openly married” and publicly celebrating the good that comes to us from our marriages?

The following are some of some things that we think would help us to restore enthusiasm for and in  marriage:

Be aware of the special feelings you have for each other and let your spouse know about them.  In fact, when you share that special look in a public place, others will notice and want what they see you have.  We saw it in couple s we knew and loved and it always did and still does inspire us when we see it.

Couples frequently spoke of the goodness of their spouse.  They seemed to be able to freely and easily identify and state the qualities that they admired and were thankful for about each other.  They publicly shared these qualities in their spouse.

They were constantly speaking about the things they had discovered about each other as they strengthened their communication by daily spending time discussing a topic through writing and talking.  They created an intimacy with each other that came from revealing to each other their feelings, not merely opinions, thoughts and assumptions.  A new trust was built or strengthened as they did so.  They supported our marriage and others as they shared the value of these activities in their marriages.

Couples shared their excitement and the fun things they did in their sexual relationship.  For some it was merely being conscious of how they kissed each other or held hands.  For others it was trying new things in their physical love making.  It took sexual relationships out of the bedroom and into discussions that helped everyone to create and enhance the physical intimacy that is unique to couples in a committed relationship.   Their sexual relationships were still their own, but the excitement and willingness to talk about what was happening to them was contagious and inspired others to others to grow in their sexual relationships.  I

As couples explored their relationships they explored the place of God in their lives as well.  They often spoke of what happened to them as they allowed God into their lives.  This spilled over into their ability to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  Couples that allowed God into their lives, especially in their willingness to forgive, radiated a peace and joy in ways that others couldn’t help but be drawn to.

We believe that the best hope for the future of marriage is for those of us who have grown and thrived in our marriages to open them to the world to see.  We know that it can be uncomfortable for us, and sometimes those who experience us, just as speaking up at Mass was for many people, but you can used to it and for us it has even become fun to share the joys in our marriage, even if we risk being seen as a little goofy.

So Fr. Eyerman reminded us on Sunday that, if we don’t associate with and support others who are excited about marriage or share our own enthusiasm, then we are responsible for what is happening to marriage today.  The young see no reason to make the commitment.  They think they are getting everything they want by living together.  We won’t change that by speaking of abstract ideas like sacrament and sin.  Couples will want to be married when they see our witness to the value of marriage in our lives and are attracted to it.

We all need to take a cue from these two priests and the excitement they bring to the celebration the liturgy and try to live that out in our lives.  We hope that the liturgy is enlivened next Sunday because of what he did and we hope that others will begin to share their enthusiasm for marriage so that we can recreate and reinforce the possibilities that marriage uniquely has for people.

Consider doing something exciting in your relationship and talk about it with at least one other married couple this week.  Hopefully that will turn it into a Pay It Forward kind of experience and marriage will get a breath of new life as the liturgy did this past week.  Let us know what you think or experience as a result.

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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, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Sexuality in Marriage | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sayings about Love

We are doing some research on marriage in various countries and thought we would start with this collection of sayings from Yourtango.com.  Enjoy!

Just what do Romanians think about love?

Ever wonder what other cultures think about love? Wonder no more. We’ve rounded up our twenty-five favorite love sayings from around the world. Read on to discover the proverb that fits you best.

1. Coffee and love taste best when hot. Ethiopian proverb

2. There is no cure for love other than marriageIrish proverb

3. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart. French proverb

4. He who loves you will make you weep. Argentinian proverb

5. Love itself is calm; turbulence arrives from individuals. Chinese proverb

6. Where there is love there is no darkness. Burundian proverb

7. Love sickness hurts but does not kill. Mexican proverb

8. You can’t tell the cost of food and fuel without being the head of a household; you can’t appreciate the love of your parents without having children of your own. Chinese proverb

9. One thread for the needle, one love for the heart. Sudanese proverb

10. In love beggar and king are equal. Indian proverb

11. He who treads the path of love walks a thousand meters as if it were only one. Japanese proverb

12. Love has to be shown by deeds not words. Swahili proverb

13. A day lasts until it’s chased away but love lasts until the grave. Irish proverb

14. Love is a despot who spares no one. Namibian proverb

15. Love understands all languages. Romanian proverb

16. All men have three ears, one on the left of his head, one on the right and one in his heart. Armenian proverb

17. It is love that makes the impossible possible. Indian proverb

18. Lovers’ hearts are linked together and always beat as one. Chinese proverb

19. Love makes a man both blind and deaf. Arabian proverb

20. Love is blind so you have to feel your way. Brazilian proverb

21. Love lives in cottages as well as in court. English proverb

22. Try to reason about love and you will lose your reason. French proverb

23. There is no love like the first love. Italian proverb

24. A life without love is like a year without summer. Lithuanian proverb

25. The heart that loves is always young. Greek proverb

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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, Couple Relationships, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What We Did For Love

We have been traveling, hence no post last week.  We spent time with our daughter and son-in-law as their girls moved on from elementary to junior high and junior high to high school. In addition the girls were in dance recitals and their dance companies’ concert.  It was great to be part of their celebrations and to see their accomplishments, both academic and in dance.  One of the dance numbers at the concert was from A Chorus Line “What I Did For Love.

As I listened to the words it struck me that it speaks to marriage relationships.  We must kiss today goodbye on many occasions when we have let the other down, hurt each other or failed to be the person the other needs us to be. The beauty of our marriage commitment is that we are always pointed to tomorrow.  We learn from the past, forgive what needs to be forgiven, and on many occasions have to rebuild trust.  Tomorrows allow us to celebrate once again what we did for love.

Today we’d like to suggest that you think about the things you’ve done for love and where you have or might need to kiss today goodbye and point yourselves to tomorrow.

There are all the obvious things that we do for love with no gender intended.  We do little things for each other such as laundry, preparing meals, giving each other time, putting gas in the car, or perhaps cleaning up after the other.  There are perhaps other things that we do that are bigger in nature.  Some we know have agreed to move so that their spouse can accept a job promotion even if that means giving up a job that they have just begun to like.  Some have been with the other through times of serious illness even if it was the result of neglect on their spouse’s part.  Some have accepted having a pet that they might not have chosen on their own even with allergies to that pet.  It might also include a difficult pregnancy and deciding to take the leap into a second one without knowing what it might entail.  Couples agree to travel to places they might not have preferred to visit or engage in activities with that travel that was not their first choice.  Others have had to reconcile after great hurts.  We have had to do some of these things.  It never ceases to amaze us what couples, especially those who are married for a significant number of years, do for love.

Kissing away today so that we can embrace tomorrow is not always easy.  It helps if we remember that love, trust and forgiveness are all decisions.  They may not be easy decisions to make and ones we will have to make over and over, but they are the essence of the on-going commitment that we made and continue to make. Love is never gone as long as we continue to decide to place the needs of the other ahead of our own.  Sometimes we did what we had to do and may not have had loving feelings about it at the time.  We can’t forget the times we hurt each other but go forward without regrets about what we did but only promising to do our best not to do it again.

The song lyrics are copied below.  You can find them on the internet or you might have them in your CD library.  We suggest you listen to the song or at least read through the lyrics and think about what you have done for love and then look at where you have or need to kiss today so that you are pointed to tomorrow.  We’d like to hear your responses.  Please leave a comment below.

What I Did For Love

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can’t regret
What I did for love, what I did for love

Look, my eyes are dry
The gift was ours to borrow
It’s as if we always knew
And I won’t forget what I did for love
What I did for love

Gone
Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love’s what we’ll remember

Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won’t forget, can’t regret
What I did for love
What I did for love
What I did for

Love
Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love’s what we’ll remember

Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
Point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won’t forget, can’t regret
What I did for love what I did for love
What I did for love

Songwriters
Marvin Hamlisch;Edward Kleban

Published by
SONY/ATV HARMONY;AMERICAN COMPASS MUSIC CORP.;WREN MUSIC CO.

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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 Couple Relationships, Hospitality and Marriage, Intimacy in Marriage, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Marriage in the Church | Tagged , , , , , ,

Praying for All Marriages

We usually tend to write about marriage specifically in terms of husband/wife relationship issues. This week, however, we discovered a prayer titled, “Intercessory Prayers for Married Couples. The prayers are in the form of a litany – each line begins with “We pray for all married couples,…” We see value in supporting marriages in a general way. You might work your way through it over time, reciting one or more of the intercessions each day. We don’t know its origin. It exists online as a pdf file at this site. We have copied it below.

Intercessory Prayers for Married Couples.

Dear Lord,

We pray for all married couples, that they may be inspired to make their relationship a
priority in their lives.

We pray for all married couples that they may be a true sign of your love to the world.

We pray for all married couples that they may turn to You, Lord, for help with any problems
that they face.

We pray for all married couples that, when their relationship needs mending, they may claim
the special graces of forgiveness and healing, with which you have blessed our Sacrament of
Matrimony.

We pray for all married couples that, with your help, they may lead each other and their
family to eternal life.

We pray for all married couples that you may lead them to seek out enrichments for their
relationship.

We pray that Your Church may develop a greater awareness of the special needs of married
couples.

We pray for all married couples that they may live in a deeper awareness that they are your
Domestic Church.

We pray for all fathers and mothers that you may guide them, Lord, to be true leaders of your
Domestic Church.

We pray for all married couples that they may continue to grow in their love for each other
and You.

We pray for all married couples that they may experience the joy that comes from being
passionately in love with each other.

We pray for all married couples that they may imitate, in their relationship, your passionate
love for them.

We pray for all married couples that you may help them, Lord, to pray the rosary together and
as a family.

We pray for all married couples that they may treasure, value and enjoy their sexuality.

We pray for all married couples that they may experience Your special graces for them in
their sacrament.

We pray for all married couples that they may always be affirming to each other.

We pray for all married couples that you may give them the courage and sensitivity, Lord, to
openly share their feelings and needs with each other.

We pray for all married couples that they may abandon themselves to each other and to You.

We pray for all married couples that they may empower each other to grow as persons and to
grow in their love for each other.

We pray for all married couples that they may live in awareness of the promises we made to
each other on our wedding day and the graces that you give us to live out our vows.

We pray for all married couples that you may give them the courage and sensitivity, Lord, to
openly share their dreams and expectations with each other.

We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to more openly show their
affection for each other.

We pray for all married couples that you may help them to be responsible to each other, and
to you Lord, for the quality of their relationship.

We pray for all married couples that you may assist them to strive for intimacy in their
relationship.

We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to reach out as a couple in
sharing their love with the world.

We pray for all married couples that you may help them to be accepting of each other=s
shortcomings and to work through their differences.

We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to be a gift to each other and as
a couple a gift to the Church.

We pray for all married couples that you may help them to develop the habit of openly
praying as a couple and as a family.

We pray for all married couples that they may value the sanctity of their marriage and live
their lives accordingly.

.___________________________________________.

Any comments? Leave them 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 Catholic Marriage, Couple Prayer, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church | Tagged , , , , , ,

Should Wedding Traditions Change with Society?

The month of June is traditionally the month for weddings.  We have had several conversations recently as we read or saw report on TV and the internet about how weddings are changing, along with marriage itself.  Many things are changing, from who gets married and when to, the life circumstances and experiences of the couples getting married, to changing traditions associated with the preparations for the wedding and the ceremony itself.

The fact that couples today live together before marriage, frequently for several years or longer, and may own a house together and have children makes the wedding a totally different event in their lives, compared to the older tradition in which most couples had not lived together and were setting up a new household.  Many were entering into their first sexual experiences, or at least their first sexual experience with each other. For them the wedding day was truly the beginning of a new life in which they had a great deal to learn about each other and about the process of living together.  Today the wedding may be a significant event in their life together and formalization of their commitment to each other and therefore very important to them. But still very different from weddings in the past.

The age of marriage is increasing and has some good effects on marriage as an institution.  These couples are more mature and take longer to make the lifetime commitment, and researchers are finding that they are more likely to stay married than their baby-boomer parents.

Our questions this week are about whether the changes in the life experiences of couples getting married in their late twenties and thirties ought to also bring about changes in the traditional preparation for marriage and perhaps in the ceremony itself.

We question the tradition of a bridal shower.  It developed to help a young couple setting up a household for the first time to get some of the things they needed – dishes, kitchen utensils, towels and bedding, some decorative items – to live comfortably together.  Today many (most?) couples have already been living on their own, even if not together, and have already furnished a home. They often have the money to have furnished it well.  For some it becomes difficult to set up a gift registry, since they don’t need anything. Some brides have even been so bold as to ask for money to help pay for their expensive honeymoon.  It’s traditional and every bride wants and is encouraged to be traditional, but what real purpose does it serve?

The planning of the wedding is also changing.  Wedding parties are getting larger, especially the number of bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, etc.  Often brides have strong opinions about what the members of the party should wear and may not be sensitive to the financial situations of the people they have asked to accompany them down the aisle.  On the grooms side, rental tuxes have become quite expensive.

After the ceremony, the day enters what is most often it’s most expensive phase, with rented limousines or party buses, stops at bars (resulting in people arriving at the reception already well on their way to being intoxicated.)  The reception includes drinks, an expensive dinner, music, photographers and other expenses, often enough to make a substantial down payment on a house.  We don’t know whether the parents or others really think it’s worth it or are coerced into agreeing because everybody repeats that phrase when the subject of cost arises and they feel pressured into it.

Destination weddings have been growing in popularity and actually seem to be more popular among the couples about to wed than many of their friends and family.  We have heard many people who have been invited to such weddings complain about the expectation that they will spend large amounts of cash on travel and accommodations.  Some have been disappointed that they missed a friend or family members wedding because they could not afford to attend.  Is this perhaps a selfish expectation?

The desire to be traditional carries into the ceremony itself.  Does it really make sense for a father to “give away” his daughter to the guy she is already living with, perhaps for years and a child or two ago?  Would it make more sense for the couple to walk up the aisle together as a symbol of their movement into their public commitment to spend their entire lives together?  The words of the vows themselves seem to be more appropriate (although we can think of some improvements to made there) to couple who are about to enter into the newness of living together, than for couples who, except for the vows, been married for some time already.

In the past the honeymoon was considered a time for the couple to get started on the newness of living together and entering into a sexual relationship  We always enjoyed seeing a couple when they arrived home from their honeymoon with a sparkle in their eyes and madly in love with each other.  For many couples today the honeymoon is more like a vacation.  They get away from their jobs and family for a time, then return to a life that is already familiar.  That isn’t bad, but it is not the honeymoon and beginning of marriage that we lived.

The new path to marriage appears to be working for many marriages that are stable and long-term.  Customs and mores change and lives of married couples are changing with them.  We wonder whether it makes sense to cling to some of the traditions that no longer fit the situations of married couples.  We know that there is a lot of expense associated with those customs and that the wedding planning industry pushes for additions to the tradition from which it can become wealthy.

We wonder what we will see in weddings in the future.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.

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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, Couple Relationships, Courtship, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in the Church, Newlyweds, Wedding Traditions | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Teaches Us to be Married?

In this month of June which is traditionally the month when many choose to marry we began to think about who teaches or taught us to be married.

In the Catholic tradition couples who wish to be married in the church must go through some kind of marriage prep with a priest, a deacon or someone designated to walk with them through the month before their wedding ceremony. I’m not familiar with other Christian faith expressions but we suspect that many Evangelical or mainline Protestant churches have some kind of marriage preparation programs. Much is said in the Scriptures about marriage as a “mystery” and marriage is frequently used in Scripture to show God ‘s love for His people. The Buddha spoke about marriage and many psychologists, with or without a faith dimension, and ministers, especially of Evangelical Christians, have written numerous books on the subject of marriage. Catholic theologians have tried to take the “mystery” and make it understandable for all.

In today’s world, we are bombarded with advice on how to have a successful marriage, how to be happy, and how to face every imaginable issue that might arise once a couple is married, We have access to statistics about every aspect of marriage which,when we think about them often have little meaning. Nearly every day the media tells us about the latest Hollywood items who are planning to get married or end the relationship that they vowed to the public would last forever. Lately we have been bombarded with Kimye and George Clooney and, lest we forget, Bradgelina. They are supposed to somehow “teach” us how to be in a relationship. Much is in the news about the defense of marriage act, which implies that only male-female relationships have the answer to life-long happiness and success.

We both, while attending Catholic colleges/universities took marriage courses, and we spent one evening with the priest in Rita’s parish before we were married. Three of our children participated in The Catholic Engaged Encounter before marriage as well as time with a priest. Our youngest participated in a day experience as well as time with the priest who officiated at their wedding. Did any of this prepare prepare us for marriage? This has been running about in our heads lately. Can we really prepare for marriage. Couples we’ve known who did a lot of preparation for marriage ended in divorce. Couples who did no preparation lived 60+ years happily together.

We have posted before of the value of being surrounded by couples that love each other. We are blessed to have had parents who loved each other and were committed to a life time together but not all in our families who experienced their relationships remained happily married. We have been surrounded by couples who we thought were as committed to a life together as are, only to have them announce that they had decided to go their separate ways. Couples we know who lived marriage as we thought it was supposed to be lived had children whose marriages quickly ended and couples who didn’t make it had children who are determined to stay together and appear to be doing so. Some would say that they are happily married because they are lucky, it was fate or Kismet, they had the right Karma or they were graced by God.

Couples getting married are frequently asked why they want to get married and their answers are somewhat similar including: he or she completes me, he or she is my soul-mate, I can’t imagine my life without the other, etc. Couples married a long time are asked the secret to their success and they have similar responses also. We learned to communicate, forgive, support each other and be best friends.

Back to the original question–who or what teaches us how to be married? We are not sure there is an answer. Is there a one size fits all method, program, lifestyle, faith dimension that will ensure success. Probably not. Sometimes we think we are lucky. We don’t speak about Kismet or Karma but do believe we have been graced by God. We also think that others had luck, good Karma and God’s grace and yet their marriage was not happy or successful.

As we approach the end of this post we have some ideas about why we have managed to stay together happily, successfully and grace-filled for forty seven years. Both of us know we are better persons because the other has been in our lives. We don’t take commitments lightly. We have worked at being together with some fits and starts through the years. We have learned the value of being together, of putting the other first and yet maintaining some personal time and space. We have figured out that mercy, kindness and forgiveness have been vital to our relationship as well as fun and laughter. We have learned from the past and yet are determined to always have a future.

Have we been lucky? Perhaps. Have we experienced God’s grace? We think so. We have written often and spoken to thousands about our experience of marriage. Many tell us that we have inspired, challenged, supported and helped them to be happy and see God’s presence in their lives.

In summary, who teaches us? Probably every person who touches our lives. But in the end we are happy because we choose to be. We are successful by worldly terms. We hope that one day we will come before God and He/She will say “Well done good and faithful servants.”

Who or what has taught you how to be married?

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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, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Marriage in the Church | Tagged , , , , ,

Quotes about Relationships

In this modern world of electronics I (Rita) find myself on a computer news service several times each day. Since we are always looking for something to talk about with each other and to write in our weekly blog, when a lifestyle or relationship story pops up and the title seems interesting, I read it. That is how this week’s blog took shape. I came across the news feed “The 40 best pieces of relationship advice ever” I found it interesting to see who was cited and what they had to say. After some discussion, Bob went through the list and pulled out things he thought were applicable. Then I went through the list and pulled out what I thought was applicable and things we had not posted before.   It was interesting that we had five in common and then agreed on the sixth. Here are our thoughts on what we shared in common.

See the full post.

How you live

The key to reviving or divorce-proofing a relationship is not in how you handle disagreements but in how you are with each other when you’re not fighting. – Dr. John Gottman, psychologist and co-founder of the Gottman Institute in Seattle

We believe that if you have the other foremost in your mind and not yourself then whatever comes up as a disagreement can be handled. We apply it ourselves and tell others that neither of you can fight to be right but when we disagree and a fight is necessary we are fighting for our relationship. We have to live for our relationship and for the other. When we do that we are rewarded in ways we don’t expect. It is in that mindset that I have become the person I am, a woman who can stand on her own two feet when necessary but knowing that my strength comes from being loved.

My experience of the truth in this statement is that being able to relate to each other and have good and interesting times is an incentive to work through a fight and get back to the good times. We just finished a great discussion about a book Rita is reading. Discussions like that, good times grocery shopping and finding new foods, friendly competition watching Wheel of Fortune and the many other things we enjoy together are far too valuable to lose in petty bickering or even in major differences on an important topic.

Look forward

“Life has taught us that love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”Antoine De Saint-Exupery, legendary French pilot and author

Gazing at each other has its time and place. It reminds us of the love and attraction we have for each other. It gives us confidence to be vulnerable, to be intimate and be strong. Yet if that is all we did in our marriage it would not have taken the form that it has. We talked about this before we were married–what we thought we would do as individuals but more importantly together to spend the love that we have. We continued and continue to do so throughout our years together. We each have an individual bucket lists, but we also have a couple one. Some of it is silly things like kissing in each state we visit others are more serious like writing a book together and doing a service trip together. While we have some individual things we have done, had we not also had an outward focus in the same direction our marriage would be quite different. I can’t say we would no longer be married, but constantly looking together at what there still is left to do draws us closer, feeds discussion, adds to our life experiences and help us to gaze at each other with real meaning, not infatuation.

While we do often look at our marriage and how we relate to each other, the life in our marriage comes in looking outward. It is a source of joy to spend time with our children and grandchildren, sometimes together, but also separately. We also get back together and enjoy sharing with each other the separate conversations and activities we have had with family members. Sometimes looking outward in the same direction involves an activity or service that one of us does with other in the background for support and encouragement. Right now, I am planning a trip to Haiti to teach a seminar. Rita is very supportive and gives me a place to voice my struggles and concerns about what I am trying to do. She looks toward Haiti with the same concern for the Haitian people, even though it is my project.

Love makes you better

“I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet

If I could have chosen one quote among the forty, this one would be number one or two. I have no doubt that I have become the person I am because of Bob’s love for me and his desire to include me in his dreams and goals. He has loved me, supported me, challenged me, helped to heal me, taught me many things, encourages me to try knew things. From that I have done the same for him and a myriad of other people who are or have been in my life. It is what makes life worth living.

I have no doubt that I am a better person because Rita is in my life. That happens in many ways, but I will mention two. Sometimes she encourages me and inspires me. At other times she lets me know that I am out of line in some way. Often she forces me to look at a situation in a different way and helps me to clarify my thinking. Sometimes she just calms me down with a squeeze on my leg when I am getting too caught up in winning a discussion.

Love at every sight

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author

How different our world would be if this is how couples lived. We believe that love is not merely a feeling it is a decision. Making the decision to love is what enables me/us to fall in love over and over but always with the same person. Bob used to joke that his college roommate once said that just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t look at the menu. This reminds me of how I’ve lived my life. I have taught, had friendships with, worked with and engaged in conversations with numerous men but never have I fallen in love with any of them. Each phase of our marriage and sometimes each day has given me the opportunity to discover anew, renew and and find new things to love about Bob. Our lives have been a constant journey of discovery but always with the same person.

I find it easy to fall in love again with Rita and it happens often. I will just share the moment I have been most aware of recently. When it became clear that I would go back to Haiti, I asked Rita if she would go with me, knowing that she is not enthusiastic about doing so. Her quick response was: “I won’t let you go alone.” In that moment I felt loved and fell in love with her again as I have so may times before. It says so much to me about her love and caring.

Be brave

Love is no assignment for cowards.”Ovid, poet in ancient Rome

This quote was one we both commented that we really liked. None of us want to think of ourselves as cowards but it made me wonder if marriages fail because the two people in it are cowards. They don’t have the courage or strength to face what needs to be faced. Things get piled up, overlooked, or ignored until there is nothing to do but walk away. Two thoughts came to mind. A quote from the opening of the Star Trek TV series. “to boldly go where no man [or woman] has gone before” This should be the mantra that we use when we get married, rather than to just live happily every after. Marriage does require us to go where we have never gone before and to do so boldly. The other is the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz who heads to the Emerald City in pursuit of courage–yet he demonstrates his considerable valor along the way. If we take time as happy, successfully married couples I’m sure we can all look back and discover the same. We all want the courage to stay together and face together whatever comes our way and when we look back we can see that we have done just that.

This saying brought a quick chuckle, but when I started to think about it, I began to realize how often in a relationship we need courage to keep it strong. Here are several things that come to mind. Admitting I am wrong. Letting Rita know that something is bothering me, when I am unsure how she will respond. Deciding to ride my bike home after a spill (with some injuries) when I knew she would be unhappy with me for not calling her to come and get me. At least she didn’t try to stop me from riding, altogether. Telling her that I am going to do something that is important to me, even though I know she disapproves. Situations come up all the time, but I can say that it has gotten easier through the years as we have grown in confidence about the strength of our relationship.

Appreciate the space between

“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”Rainer Maria Rilke

In a book I’ve been reading lately a young woman about to get married is contemplating what her name will be when she gets married and when she thinks about the two becoming one, she asks which one. While we have striven to be one in mind and heart and affection and have moments when we believe we have been truly one, there is no doubt that there is an infinite distance between us. We have different views on things, different ways to express those differences, different personalities, different ways of expressing our emotions and spirituality, and have different things in life that we like to persue to name a few. Yet it is in the living side and loving the differences that I think is the secret to growing more in love each day.

In this quote I am reminded that we can be very close and can at times achieve a sense of oneness – two in one flesh – but I can also sit back and see the separate and complete person that Rita is. I love to sit a across a room and see her interact with a child or grandchild and appreciate that her relationship with them is different from mine. I enjoy the intellectual differences that allow us to see an issue from different points of view and acknowledge that she saw something important that I missed. Recognizing her separate personhood allows me support her in things she does separately from me and to rejoice in her accomplishments. I try to be her biggest fan as she is for me

We hope you will read through the quotes, perhaps looking at what strikes you as describing your relationship and talk about what the two of you think is important in your marriage. We’ve enjoyed doing so. We wish the same for you. As always feedback or comments are appreciated.

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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 Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Things Not to Do in Marriage

Recently, we came across suggestions, on a website called dynamom, that parents should avoid with their children.  While we recognize that these are great parenting hints we thought most of them could be applied to a marriage relationship as well.

1.  Not saying “I love you.”  I used to obverse adolescents saying this to each other very early in a relationship, especially as they ended phone conversations or when they parted.  I saw this in our children as they developed a relationship with the person they were to marry.  We made a promise on our honeymoon to say those words everyday and as far as we know we have done so.  Some might argue that saying it can become a rote thing with no meaning, but we think that never hearing it, which is a danger when not done frequently is more devastating to a relationship.  Words convey a lot and being told that one is loved is essential to a lasting relationship.

2. Judging other parents.  The bar isn’t set very high when we only measure ourselves by those who in our minds aren’t doing a good job at being loving parents.  It’s the parents who constantly yell at their children, etc.  We do the same as couples.  We look at those who don’t do the things in their relationship that we think we are doing and make excuses when we see a couple who seem to be very good together. Have you ever said, “I’ll bet they are not like that at home.”?  The bar isn’t high.  Think of and speak of what you want in your relationship and then set about reaching that.  Look to couples that challenge you in deepening your relationship not those who give you excuses for being lax.

3. Negative self-talk.  We all have moments when we look in the mirror and say “I’m fat” or “I’m stupid.”  While having your children hear this gives them the wrong message it can have equally an devastating effect on a marriage.  Repeating messages like these to oneself eventually leads to the belief that they are true or that he or she is less than the other in the relationship.

4.  Distraction City.  It is impossible to go anywhere with out seeing everyone in a family on some kind of electronic device.  People sit down at a table in a restaurant and instantly everyone pulls out a phone.  We’ve seen this in couples out on a date night.  Much of their time together is spent connected to someone other than their spouse.  Perhaps a few guidelines for family as well as couples.  Set aside a time slot each evening or several evenings a week when no is on electronics.  Perhaps 7 to 9.  Try doing some different things like having conversations on any number of topics, play a board game, take a walk.  All will enhance a relationship.

5. Badmouthing people our kids love.  Nothing is worse for children than having their parents badmouth one of their grandparents.  We teach them to love and respect their grandparents and but diss them in the child’s presence.  This also has effects on a marriage relationship if the people we love and respect are not loved and respected by our spouse.  Think about the effect this might have on your relationship with each other.

6. Trying to control everything.  This has been labeled as characteristic of parents – especially the baby boomer generation.  Children are not allowed to experience any kind of defeat nor are they allowed to make any decision on their own.  This is not uncommon in couples as well.  One makes all the decisions, either by verbally insisting or by saying nothing.  It doesn’t matter whether it is money, parenting, sex, or conversation.   There is no discussion – one makes all the decisions.  It leads to feelings of inequality, and we have observed in couples that one shuts down and merely goes along with whatever the other wants because if s/he doesn’t it results in a fight or increased periods of silence.  Have real peace in your relationship not just quiet.

7.  Photographing everything.  We all see this in parenting.  Absolutely everything must be photographed.  With the advent of smart phones it is endemic.  While this my apply less to a marriage relationship I sometimes wonder whether anything is ever just experienced because getting it recorded in pictures loses the spontaneity and the intimacy of the moment.  I often wonder what happens to the hundreds even thousands of pictures that are taken.  Does anyone actually look at them or do they merely become things we do to avoid entering into the moment?

8. Being the yes man or woman.  We all know parents that give into the demands of their children, whether it is buying a little toy on every trip to the store or a food treat or even clothes or large toy.  This sets up our children with a sense of entitlement and they can become demanding little tyrants.  This can happen in a marriage as well when every little whim of the other is expected to be met.  Anyone married for any length of time knows that this is not possible.  We have to learn to meet our own needs and recognize that some times all our little desires, wants and whims aren’t going to be met.  It we don’t teach our children these same things they will never be able to be in a loving adult relationship.

9. Being too comfortable.  As a parent we often have to do things with our children that we may not be comfortable doing, such as engaging in sports activities or reading books.  If we don’t, we may limit the development of their unique gifts and talents.  A marriage relationship can be limited if one or both of us gets too comfortable as well.  A relationship thrives and grows when we try new things.  It gives us the opportunity to know each other in new ways and is a stimulus in getting us to focus on the other and new things that we might try together.  This is important in every stage of a marriage relationship.  Being couch potatoes or settled in isn’t good for the long term.

10. Faking quality time.  Parents may think they are spending quality time with their children when in reality they are preoccupied with their jobs, electronics, odd jobs that need to be done.  The same happens in a relationship.  Couples can engage in parallel conversations.  While it would appear that a conversation is happening, in reality each is carrying on a different conversation.  Neither is listening to or engaged in what the other is saying.  Couples may be in the same room, even watching the same TV program, and think they are spending quality time together when they could as easily be in separate rooms.  Don’t convince yourselves that you are spending quality time together when you aren’t.  Make a commitment to actually spend time together when each of you can focus on the other.  It is essential to a relationship.

As the days warm up and plants come alive and grow again we too are provided with opportunities to feel alive, growing and thriving.  It is a good time to think about this in your relationship.  Relationships need attention and care.  Make the time to do so.

Comments are appreciated.

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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 Couple Relationships, Family, Intimacy in Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , ,

Bob & Rita are taking this week off. See you next week.

Have a great week!

Posted in Marriage

Children and Your Relationship

We have often heard people say that they would do anything for their children or that as long as their children are happy they are happy.  While we would do anything reasonable for our children including giving our lives for them, and we certainly want them to be happy, neither of these says anything about the effect children might have on a marital relationship.

The past weekend we were privileged to spend with a couple of our grandchildren while their parents had a little time away.  Our youngest son and daughter-in-law (not their parents) joined us for Mass and then cooked dinner for us in honor of Mother’s Day.  We received phone calls as well from our children who do not live in the area.  These things allowed us to think about our own children, the impact they had on our relationship and what we observe in our children as they now parent.  In addition, there have been several things in the news over the last months that lead us to think about children and what is good for them, as well as their parents, aka husband and wife.  The first was the affluenza case in Texas.  A teen used and received a reduced sentence plea because his parents had provided him with too many material things and as a result he was delayed in his ability to make mature decisions. There seems to be something wrong on both sides of this.  First, the parents giving too many things without expecting responsibility and secondly the teen even considering that as an excuse. What stress this trial and outcome and the acquiring of “things” must have put on their relationship.  Another thing in the news is that teenagers don’t want summer jobs and many parents don’t want them to have jobs.  They see no reason to make money because their parents provide everything and a job would get in their way of texting and tweeting.  At first people blamed the economy for the lack of jobs for teens, but that is not the case.  Many parents give their children the idea that fast food is beneath them in terms of a job.  One of the disadvantages for their children, ultimately, is that they have no job experience when they finish college nor do they have any motivation to excel in college or get a job when they graduate because mom and dad will provide a place to live, food, often a car with gas and of course all the electronics they want.  It is also not unusual for college graduates to move home and stay there indefinitely.  Young adults don’t have any reason to leave when everything is provided for them in a fashion much better than they would have on their own.  The only regret many young adults have is that they often still have a curfew and mom and dad want to know everything they do.  Parents often like having their teens and young adults at their house – they provide the drinks and it makes them feel young again and important.  Much money is spent on adult children and their needs, including giving them money for vacations – even spring break drinking sprees and not on preparing for the own futures

Another thing that popped up in the financial news was the number of parents who are shelling out large amounts of money so that their children can go to expensive colleges and graduate programs and are not putting money away for their own retirement.  Will their children who have never been taught to be financially responsible care for them?  Most financial advisers tell parents that it is not wise to jeopardize their own retirements.  It is better to find other ways, sometimes ways that make the child ultimately responsible, for their educational expenses.

Baby boomer parents somehow seem to think that it is their responsibility to be their child’s best friend and they don’t want to say no to a friend.  Spending time with a child supercedes everything, including time with a spouse.  The thought is: after all, my spouse will always be there.  This reminds us of other news stories. While couples used to have the seven year itch, causing a spike in the divorce rate, that initial “itch” it is now even earlier.  Significantly, there is now a second increase in divorce rates after 20 to 25 years  Couples who spent their entire life providing for every possible whim, want and need of their children no longer have any intimacy with each other.  In fact ,they come to see that they no longer know each other. While their children came from their love for each other, they no longer share any depths of love – it has been spent on their children instead.

Perhaps this blog seems to be a rant, but where is parenting going?  Why do couples who have children want them?  We don’t have answers but we parented with a couple of beliefs.   We believed that our children were/are a gift from God but they are only ours for a period of time and then they have lives of their own.  The only permanent relationship we have is our marriage.  From that we lived with a few other things both stated some time ago by Fr. Theodore Hesburg, former president of Notre Dame University.  He said the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.  We would add to that the best gift, other than life, that a mother can give her children to is love their father.  Giving children things and every opportunity doesn’t teach them to love, which is the charge we have been given as Christian parents.  The second precept is that we were to give our children roots and wings.  Material possessions, the best education, and spending our retirement on them doesn’t necessarily give them either.

In this time between Mother’s and Father’s days and in light of the fact that our children are all adults, we pause to think about parenting and how that drew us together rather than apart.  We did say no to them many times and it was difficult.  We didn’t always have the money to buy them everything they wanted or what their friends had.  We provided all of them with private high school and college educations.  It was with sacrifice on our part and on theirs.  They did have jobs as did we.  Fortunately, we managed to put money away for our own retirement in the process.  As we think about it, having children and parenting them enabled and forced us to have many discussions that helped us get to know each other more fully, it helped us clarify in ourselves and with the other what we truly valued, and helped us to impart in our children deep values that we see them live today as they fly with the wings God gave them.

In this time between Mother’s and Father’s Days take some time to think about how you parent.  Reflect not so much on how good of a mother or father you have been but how has being a mother or father made you a better husband or wife.   We’d like to hear your responses to this post.

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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 Couple Relationships, Family, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Parenting, Personal Finances | Tagged , , , , ,