We’re Home!

On September 16 we started driving west from Chicago with the intention of seeing some of the western part of the U.S. that we had never visited and to move toward our goal of visiting all 50 states.  We arrived home with two states left – Washington and Alaska.  They are on our list of places to visit in the future.  We saw some of the great natural wonders of the western part of the country – Pike’s Peak in CO, the Grand Canyon in AZ, Bryce Canyon in UT, Grand Teton and Yellowstone in WY.  We also visited some of the wonders built by humans – Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Salt Lake City and Mt. Rushmore, SD.  We were in constant awe of the mountain landscapes that kept changing as we moved from one place to another.  If you are interested, you can see some pictures here.

This has been a busy year for me – the seminar in Haiti held my focus from Feb through Aug – and there were times when Rita felt abandoned, even though she supported me through the process and was my assistant in Haiti.  We looked forward to this trip as a time to reestablish contact.  While there is more to do with the data we collected and that will probably go on for some time, I made a promise to put it all aside while we were traveling and to give her my full attention.  (He did other than when he was taking pictures. :))

On this vacation we drove 5000 mi in 20 days.  That means that we spent a lot of time together in the car and everywhere else.  We were together 24 hours a day.  We took turns driving and spent much of our time just “visiting”.  We talked about many topics as they came up. We commented on the sights we were seeing.  On some days that meant repeating the word “wow” over and over.  On long stretches of less inspiring landscapes (endless corn fields or pine trees) we sometimes listened to the radio and drew material from it or listened to music.  Since we had no fixed itinerary, we spent time in the car and in hotel rooms planning a couple of days ahead and finding accommodations.

And it was all great!  We were reminded that we still like each other a lot – necessary under the circumstances.  Looking back on the trip, I am reminded of our dating days when we could talk for hours on any subject and enjoy being together.  The Denver Museum of Art is a building with walls, ceilings and windows that meet in crazy angles.

It messes with your balance and we laughed as we held hands to steady each other and gripped the hand rails on the stairs to keep from falling. We held hands as we looked down from the top of Pikes Peak and other high places.  We enjoyed an organ recital at the Mormon Tabernacle.

It was also necessary to be flexible.  Something will always happen that will force a change in plans.  The day we drove from Colorado Springs into Utah, we stopped for dinner at a truck stop in Green River, UT with the intention of getting a hotel there. (It was the best restaurant available.  Not my usual fare.) The food wasn’t bad, but we didn’t know that they had a watermelon festival going on and all the hotels were full.  We had to get on the internet (thank heaven for smart phones) and find another stop.  There isn’t much along I70 in UT and we had to drive for another 3 hours.  The drive turned out to be interesting (especially for Rita, who was driving).  She was freaked out when she could look ahead and in the mirrors and to either side and see NO lights.  At first she thought something had happened to the mirror.  In the end, we survived it well and had a good place to sleep.  Sometimes the glitches lead to pleasant surprises.  As we were leaving Yellowstone the car indicated that it needed an oil change.  Since dealerships were few in the western states we decided to go to the one dealer which was not far away in Bozemen, MT.  It is a very nice town with interesting shops and stores.  We enjoyed walking around downtown and getting lunch at a nice restaurant.

I arrived home feeling relaxed and close to Rita. It was a great time to be together.  I am also determined not to let the other things I do get in the way of having time for us to spend together.  On the last leg of the drive home we talked about things we can do, like day trips to nearby places.

It’s time to start planning our next vacation…Europe?

Please leave your 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 Aging Together, Dating, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Dreams IV

We have been on the road for two weeks and are looking forward to the week or so remaining until we are back home. It has been a great two weeks+a day.  When Rita wrote last week we were in Arizona and about to head to the Grand Canyon.  While we only visited the south rim of the canyon, that was enough to experience the grandeur of God’s creation.  We took a shuttle bus along the rim of the canyon, getting off at some stops.  Sometimes we got back on the bus to the next stop.  Other times we walked the trail along the rim to the next stop.  It was several hours of enjoying the beauty and thanking God over and over that we were allowed to experience it – especially to be there together.  Everything about the Grand Canyon is enormous and majestic.

From Arizona we drove to Bryce Canyon in Utah.  That trip was the first time I have ever been stopped for going less than 10 mph over the speed limit (74 in a 65 mph zone).  Fortunately, I got off with a warning.  We were relieved and it has kept me no more than 4-5 mph over the limit since.  Rita always drives a little slower than I do, so we don’t worry about her being stopped.

Bryce Canyon is much smaller than the Grand Canyon and we were there only for a couple of hours.  We saw it as just as magnificent as the Grand Canyon, but for a different reason – it contains an enormous array of unique sandstone formations like we have seen nowhere else.  Rita had a great time picking out formations that resemble something – the Parthenon, a cowboy hat, and in front of it Jesus with his arms outstretched, among others.  I was fascinated by the late afternoon sunlight as it lit up a group of rocks.  We have been amazed on this trip at the many different landscapes we have seen in mountains in different states and areas.  Bryce Canyon stands out as one of the finest.

On Friday we drove from Bryce Canyon to Salt Lake City.  We were stuck there at the airport for a few hours many years ago, but had never seen the city.  The downtown area, at least, is very clean and modern and is dominated by the headquarters of the Mormon Church.  We learned some facts about it and attended an organ recital on the magnificent organ used by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for its concerts. Saturday was rainy, so we decided to stay in our hotel and just take it easy.  We had been running pretty hard, so it was good to read and doze and not be driving or sight-seeing.  It helped that our hotel was the best on the trip.

Sunday we drove to Jackson Hole, WY.  It was also rainy there and we arrived late in the afternoon, so we found a good barbecue place to eat, then spent some time looking ahead for things to see in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Monday morning was still rainy, so we went to Mass at the little Catholic church in Jackson in hopes that the weather would clear later in the day.  Unfortunately, it did not , and our experience of the Tetons is driving by mountains mostly lost in the clouds.  In spite of that we took some winding mountain roads and still found interesting streams and other sights.  One section of road was marked as unpaved on maps, but looked to us like it was just in great need of repair.  It reminded us of the roads in Haiti, but it wasn’t that bad.  We stopped for lunch and had some good soups to tide us over until dinner.  Our reservation for the night turned out to be a cabin in the woods, just south of the entrance to Yellowstone.  It was much like a basic hotel room, but no internet, TV or cell phone service and nothing to do nearby.  We stayed in our room for dinner and grazed on the food we brought with us in bags and a cooler.  We managed to come up with some pretty decent nachos.  Rita says that it was as close as she ever wants to get to camping. For years Rita has avoided playing Scrabble with me, saying that I always win.  Last night we finally played a game and she won.  Maybe she will be more willing to play in the future.  I have to say that she was very kind and didn’t gloat.

Today, Tuesday, we spent a lot of time in the car, driving from one feature to another in Yellowstone.  We very much enjoyed being together as we were in awe over the beauty of mountain rivers with rapids and water falls.  We crossed the Continental Divide and saw many of the volcanic features of the park – mud pots, fumeroles and geysers.  The crowning attraction was seeing the Old Faithful geyser erupt.  What a magnificent sight!  It was still raining off and on, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  One of the best features of the day was seeing a herd of bison in fact one was directly in front of us on the road.  Rita got a great picture of him/her through the windshield.  They are magnificent beasts but we understand quite dangerous.

We have seen so much beauty in these two weeks that it is hard to grasp what we have seen and will continue to see.  It overwhelms the senses and the brain.

This trip has been very good for us.  We have had time to be together without the distractions of everyday life.  It is a great blessing to be able to experience these wonders of God’s creation and an even greater blessing to share the experience.

From here we will spend one more day exploring Yellowstone, then turn the car east and make our way home, stopping to see other sights along the way.

We hope that you are enjoying your lives together, wherever you are and what ever you are doing.

Enjoy

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , ,

Dreams III

We have driven 1500 + miles since we last posted our blog.  It has been a wonderful week with many great moments for us.  The words the Apostles spoke to Jesus on the Mount of the Transfiguration continue to run through my head, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”

We can’t begin to put everything into words.  So many times we just looked at each other and said, “Wow” as we viewed the scenery and the landscape.  As we drove from one state to another we realized once again that we leave behind the cars with that states license plates and suddenly we are traveling with those from a new state.  It reminded me that it is a lot like our life together.  We have people who are quite important to us for a while as we journey through our marriage and share a common interest, but our interests, activities and involvements change and so do the people.  It is not that we have forgotten them.  We have great memories of the things we did together but we continue to move on through life.

It has been great to once again be together just the two of us.  It has been some time since we traveled along without others we love or in a tour group.  We have had great conversation, funny inside jokes, made off-hand comments to each other, enjoyed great and simple meals together and had time to just hold hands and hold each other as we fell asleep or woke.

We are also amazed at how little things happen that provide us with special moments.  As we were getting into the car to drive to the top of Pikes Peak the music on our media card was “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music and our prayer that morning included a petition to care for the environment and one for people who needed us to think of them and pray for them.  We have also worked together in driving and navigating.  We have only been tense a few times when, even with the car’s navigation system, we made a wrong turn or couldn’t find where we were going.  Mostly we could laugh at ourselves as it seemed every time I got behind the wheel we hit construction or letting the fuel get low because we couldn’t find a diesel station.  More often than not it has just been good to be together with no radio, no one else but us, and to marvel at the beauty of God’s creation.  One particular aspect of this trip that we hadn’t thought of when we began was that we could encounter the changing of the leaves.  As we drove across Colorado the Aspen trees had such an intense color of yellow that our sense of sight had difficulty sometimes taking it in.  It reminded us of times when things in our relationship were so intense that it was difficult to comprehend.

While we have seen pictures of Las Vegas, nothing prepared us for the immensity of the properties there, just as nothing prepared us for being married.  While most told us we wouldn’t like Vegas, we had a great time and in the busyness we found lots of intimate moments together.  We shared with each other our hurting feet as we walked for miles, finding our way when we didn’t know where we going, having wonderful meals together and reminiscing about our trips to Europe as we had crepes in a French Cafe in the Paris Resort, talked about our gondola ride on the canal in Venice while we were in the Venetian, having Paella and Sangria in a Spanish restaurant and remembering tossing coins into Trevi Fountain in Rome so that we would return.  We didn’t throw coins in the replica here, not because we didn’t want to return, but neither of us had any coins.  We laughed as we said we were doing Vegas our way which meant we didn’t gamble at all and drank very little.  We were reminded on more than one occasion that we are aging as we had less stamina to climb stairs and walk as far as we once would have.  But we were thought of Sr. Joan Chitister’s book titled “The Gift of Years”, in which she reminds her readers that with age, life changes, but it is not over and can often be the best part of our lives.  Our life together is still filled with more joy than we could have imagined years ago when we were married.

Tomorrow we will be at the Grand Canyon and I’m sure we will be filled with the wonder of our love as we view another aspect of God’s creation and be able to say, “it is good for us to be here.

Keep dreaming and sharing those dreams with each other.  None of us know where the journey will take us and what graces we will need but we all need to think of the past as we journey to the future and live in the present.

Rita has done a good job of highlighting our trip, so far, but I would like to add a couple of things that have been especially important to me.

Meals have been a special time on this whole trip.  While the individual meals varied widely, from moderately expensive meals in Las Vegas to less expensive dinners in Colorado springs to lunches of fruits, vegetables and chips from the cooler in the car while stopped at a rest area on an interstate, we have found eating to be a special part of this trip.  From fancy to simple, the food has all tasted great.  I suspect that it has to do with the company we are keeping.

This has also been a time to marvel together about God’s creation as we became aware of how different the mountain landscapes looked as we traveled across several states and different mountain ranges.  The rock formations with different shapes and colors. Different shapes, colors and sizes of the vegetation, reflecting differences in climate, altitude and temperature.  Quite varied, but each was magnificent and helped to make us aware of God’s great creation and reminded us that we should take care of it.  At Hoover Dam, we saw how the creations of humans can also use what God has made for good.  I am always awed by the ways that we use technology reflect the more hidden wonders of the universe. Rita reminded me of that once again when she asked how the machinery at the dam could make electricity.

Keep dreaming and enjoying each other.

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Intimacy in Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Playfulness in Marriage | Tagged , , , ,

Dreams, Part 2

As we said last week, we are beginning another segment of dreams we have been creating for some time.  We had lunch or dinner the past week with many old friends.  Each of them in their own ways encouraged us to enjoy every aspect of this trip.  Some have traveled many of the places we have and shared their favorite memories.  Others said they wish they could go with us.  As we spoke with our wonderful neighbors who look after our house, all of whom are younger than we are, they told us we were their idols and hope that when they reach our age they will be able to travel and do service like we do.  The joy all of them spoke to us is tucked in our hearts as we travel.

We left home about eight this morning and are now more than half way across Nebraska.  As always when we drive we have good conversations, we sing, we pray, and have times of silence.  Today was no different.  We began the journey as we exited our neighborhood with a prayer.

As we were driving today and saw multiple towns of the same name in different states I ( Rita) was reminded of the thought that while we are unique, much of our lives as married couples is the same as others.  I’m sure the towns share those some qualities.  The towns have names in common but are different and yet there are likely some similarities.  We are always struck by this when we do marriage enrichment.  We tell our story and others find themselves in it.  While we are unique as a couple many of our life experiences with little nuances are the same as others.

As we drove across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska we remembered other trips we had taken with our children and places we had stopped.  We even remembered finding Boekes in the parish bulletin in Grinnell, Iowa.  As we drove we remembered various people we had met during our years in Marriage Encounter.  We spoke of them and said a little prayer.  I also remembered many students who have graduated from various colleges and universities along the way.

Sometimes town names made us laugh such as What Cheer, Iowa and Beaver Crossing, Nebraska.  A chain of service stations had a name that would make teenagers roar with laughter because of its sexual connotation.  All made us laugh.  We listened to music and sang along to our favorite love songs and Peter, Paul and Mary.  (Yes we know we are telling our age.)  This morning, just before leaving,  I grabbed. a watch that is solar powered.  Since I haven’t worn it for a while it was not running.  After sitting on the dash for a while as I was driving, Bob put in on my wrist.  He was having difficulty doing the clasp.  When he finished I looked down to discover that he had put it on upside down.  (It was funny to us.)

Other towns and things along the way made us think of our children and grandchildren.  We found a town named Malcom and thought of Max. (His official name) Milford and thought of Leah and Nicole. (Their dance studio is there.)  BBQ places made us think of Elizabeth and in texting with her we decided that Jethro must be the uncle of Rudy (the place where she works.)

While the day was personal and many inside things for us we know that we aren’t unique.  We are sure that if you reflect back on things you have done together you too will find inside jokes, places will fill you with memories of others who have touched your lives.

Most of all we hope you will have a little fun dreaming together.

We will post more of our adventures next week.  We trust that you will have created memories of your own in that time.

(Bob) After a slow start, we reached the Interstate and from their the drive was mostly easy and relaxed.  We enjoyed salads (we brought the fixin’s) at a roadside rest area on I80. They tasted great, I think enhanced by being together, in no hurry, and sitting at a picnic table.

Since the traveling went so well, we are less than 300 mi from Denver and hope to do some sight-seeing and end up in Colorado Springs.  Then on to many other interesting places, before we decide to head back home.  Trips like this are always very special for us.  They allow us to enjoy being ourselves and being together.  As Rita said, more to come next week.

Enjoy.

Please leave your comments below.

 

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Prayer, Couple Relationships, Intimacy in Marriage, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Dreams

I (Rita) did a quick internet search of songs with “dream” in the title and came up with more than I imagined.  Below are a few that jumped out at me.

All I Have To Do Is Dream (whenever I want you all I have to do is dream) – 1958 – Everly Brothers

Any Dream Will Do – 1968 from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

California Dreamin’ (all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray) – 1966 – The Mamas and the Papas

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – 1995 – Chicago

Keeping The Dream Alive – 1989 – Freiheit

“The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.

Dreams are part of all our lives.  We speak of a dream job, dream house; we want to marry our dream person and dream of doing great things in our lives.  The idea was broadened by the 2007 movie, The Bucket List.  In addition there are numerous books about the places in the world one should see or visit in a lifetime.

We have had lots of dreams and speak of them in our book, Forever and A Day. We continue to try to make our dreams  a reality.  While we have never written a bucket list, we do have some things we’ve wanted to do.  One is to visit each state in the United States.  For years, as I anticipated retiring we talked about getting in the car and driving west, since that area has the few states we have not visited.  Four years have passed since I retired and  we have completed one thing on Bob’s dream or bucket list, to do work in an emerging nation, so we’ve decided that now is a good time to begin that journey.  We don’t have an itinerary, but we do have some places we’d like to go including Denver and the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, probably Death Valley and if we don’t get tired being out or run out of money we will go to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park and through South Dakota on our way home.  We will just see where the spirit leads us and make many stops along the way.

We like planning trips together and share the driving.  Bob has a new car that he is waiting to take on a long trip.  We are looking forward to time together and will likely meet new people along the way as well as renew some old friendships.

Dreaming is a way of life for us.  We had dreams that didn’t come true.  Bob didn’t finish his doctorate and we didn’t move to the southwest.  New dreams came into our life along the way.  We thought we might work with engaged couples but never dreamed of doing marriage enrichment the way we have.  Writing a book or blogging (it didn’t exist) wasn’t on our dream list when we were married but has become part of our lives.  We dreamed of living happily every after with the best marriage anyone could have and for us we think we have done that.  We dreamed of children, actually Bob wanted twelve like his parents, but after having one he decided that wasn’t a dream he wanted to pursue.  We have been gifted with four and four great spouses for them.  Today we also have seven wonderful grandchildren.

Where will dreaming take us?  Well for the next few weeks on the road.  Who knows where after that.  We have been so busy living our dream/s that we haven’t thought up new ones recently.  We are very blessed.

Think about your dreams, where they have taken you, what didn’t come to pass, what dreams came along that you didn’t imagine and where you expect them to take you in the future.

Please leave your 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 Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How our love grew in Haiti

We have just returned from two weeks in Haiti where we presented a seminar on Divergent Thinking at the University of the Nouvelle Grand Anse in Jeremie (UNOGA).  The beginning of the seminar started in 2012 when I taught a math class and Rita taught ESL there.  Travel to Jeremie and living conditions there are difficult – we gained an appreciation for the energy it takes for the poor to get through a day just to take care of the necessities of life, like obtaining food and water, washing clothes and a multitude of other things that we take for granted.  There is little health care, which concerned us. So we thought that we would never go back.

We both recognized some things that were missing from our students’ educational development and I couldn’t let go of the idea that I could and must try to do something about it.  As I worked with a colleague to develop the seminar and began to see it as possible to do, I hoped that I could get someone else to go to Haiti to present it, but I came to realize that I had to go and present it myself.  That’s where this post really begins.

When I decided to go back to Haiti, I didn’t want to insist that Rita go with me, but she recognized how important it was to me and would not let me go alone.  For me, that was a great affirmation of her love for me.  As I continued to develop the program, she would say to people that it was Bob’s seminar and she was just going along to watch.  At the same time she was feeding me great suggestions that helped my work and I was beginning to see ways that she could be a great asset to me and the students.  As we presented the seminar, she was a great help with keeping materials organized and offering suggestions.  In some cases I knew that she could present some of her suggestions better than I could and she became a significant contributor to the teaching.  We have worked together on many things through the years and found ourselves again enjoying working as a team.

Living conditions were still difficult and Rita put up with being stung by bees, being covered 24/7 with mosquito repellent, showers that were a trickle of cool water, food that sometimes wasn’t familiar or very tasty to our palates and limited availability of electricity and bathrooms.  We complained some to each other, but also laughed at the thought that we are just a little crazy.

Several people, including a Haitian senator, university officials and students asked us to move to Jeremie and work at the university full-time.  It was easy to say “no” to that.  Will we go back?  We don’t have any current plans, but we didn’t the last time we left, either.  We are trying to find a way to train a Haitian to present the seminars, which is necessary, if they want to offer them more often.

The seminar was a great success for the students and UNOGA.  It brought us closer to each other and reminded us of how well we can work together and how much we enjoy it.  What more can we ask?  We are very blessed.

If you are interested in learning more about the Divergent Haiti seminar, go to DivergentHaiti.com.

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 Aging Together, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Mission Work | Tagged , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Our 48 Years Together

Last week we celebrated our 48th anniversary.  We had a wonderful day together.  As we went through the day we happened to mention on occasion that it was our 48th anniversary.  We were surprised by the response.  Many saw that number as unbelievable and unachievable.  We didn’t think so.  All four of my sisters and their husbands reached 50+ years of marriage.  Bob’s parents did so as well.  When we were kids growing up, fifty years of marriage was astounding as well, mostly because people didn’t live that long.  The response to us seemed to speak more to the reality of marriage today.  Many people don’t make it because of divorce.  There was a time, even among celebrities, that fifty years of marriage made the headlines.  Bob and Delores Hope were married sixty nine years.  Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for fifty years.  George and Barbara Bush have been married sixty nine years and Jimmy and Roselyn Carter for sixty eight years.  In Hollywood today Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at twenty-six years, Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne at thirty-two years.  Bono and his wife Ali Hewson are at thirty years of marriage.   What also makes the news today is the fifty-five hour marriage of Britney Spears and Jason Alexander.  Tom Green and Drew Barrymore’s five months marriage.   Who can forget the much hyped and super expensive 72 day marriage of Kim Kardasian and Kris Humphries. We don’t find our 48 years all that remarkable considering that each week at our parish our pastor begins the liturgy by welcoming visitors or newcomers and then those with birthdays and anniversaries.  In recent weeks there have been a couple married for sixty five and another sixty two.

 

What makes the difference today?  We kicked around a lot of ideas.  Perhaps it is a lack of commitment or the inability to work things through.  Maybe it is the desire of having things be mine or about me and not ours or us.  Perhaps there are more pressures in today’s society and more demands, and yet many still stay together.

 

Just six days after our anniversary and as we have talked about it an article popped up on my web browser that contained many of the things we talked about.  The full article can be seen at Marriage Secrets Of Highly Successful Couples By Victor M. Parachin for YourTango.comTo summarize, just in case you don’t have time to read it.   First he says that marriage must be the number one priority in each other’s lives.  Mr. Parachin then adds that successful couples “know the ingredients that are necessary to keep each other content, happy, healthy and satisfied. To put it simply, philosopher Paul Tillich observed, “Any deep relationship to another human being requires watchfulness and nourishment.”  He uses the word successful to describe couples who stay together and adds the following characteristics of those couples.

  1. Successful couples enjoy each other.
  2. Successful couples fight skillfully.
  3. Successful couples seek and offer forgiveness.
  4. Successful couples are in it for the long haul.
  5. Successful couples are positive about each other.
  6. Successful couples learn and grow together.
  7. Successful couples never stop dating.
  8. Successful couples bring to each other joy.
  9. Successful couples adhere to the 60/40 rule.
  10. Successful couples have shared values.

A longer explanation for each of these can be found in his article.  Each year we try to reflect back on our last year and all our years together.  We would have to say that this article summarizes our life together.  We could expand on each of those qualities in our years together, but, as always, our story is less important than your own.  Can you find these qualities in your happy and successful life together?  Are their things that were missed?  Take a little time, if not today, perhaps on your anniversary, to see why you are still together and together happily.  Our dream for us is that we just might make 65 or perhaps even 75 years together.  It isn’t an anomaly today, it is the reality and a very good one for many of us.

Thoughts and comments are appreciated.

Note:  Next week we will be in Haiti, presenting Bob’s Divergent Thinking seminar.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayer.  We will try to post from Haiti next Wed and Bob will be blogging almost daily about the progress of the seminar at DivergentHaiti.com

._________________________________________.

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, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Wedding Anniversary | Tagged , , , , , ,

Our Anniversary

Today is our 48th wedding anniversary.  We remember a beautiful, sunny day and a small country church, St. Francis, in Cranberry Prairie, OH.  The years have been very good to us and God continues to bless us every day.  So today we are going to take time to be together, give thanks and pamper ourselves.  We’ll be back next week.  Enjoy!

._________________________________________.

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.

Check out our upcoming trip to Haiti at Divergent Haiti.

Posted in Aging Together, Catholic Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement, Wedding Anniversary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aging while Married

The August issue of U.S. Catholic has three excellent articles on living in retirement.  The first, You Can’t Take It with You, by Laura Fletcher, deals with some of the practicalities that become important as we get older.  We need to make plans for someone to stand in for us in making financial and health care decisions when we can’t make them for ourselves.  Wills, trusts and health care and financial powers of attorney are some of the legal documents that should be taken care of before there is a crisis. These are areas that many people don’t want to face, but doing so early can go a long way toward making the later years easier on both the senior and their family.  For married couples, having these issues taken care of can make years of caring for an incapacitated spouse easier and can help assure the financial health of the remaining spouse when one of you dies.  We also found that the process of discussion and making the decisions together helped us to get to know each other better as we shared our wishes in these very personal areas.

The second article, The Good Life, by Kristen Hannum, raises issues about how to find joy and meaning in one’s life when the self-worth and social aspects of full-time employment go away.  It has many good suggestions about ways people have found to keep life interesting.  Most people need activities and social contacts to keep them happy and fulfilled.  Each person needs to find a mix of personal time, time with others and activities that give them a sense of personal fulfillment.  That is different for different people.  Some are happy to focus on their family, spending time with children and perhaps caring for grandchildren.  Some people volunteer for good causes, maybe causes that utilize the expertise developed during working years, perhaps working part time.

A man we met in Ireland was married and recently retired.  He said that one of the important things a retired couple needs to do is “stay out of each other’s pocket.”  On a trip to Puerto Rico, we interviewed several couples who were around our age and who seemed to enjoy being together.  We asked them what made their marriage work in retirement.  All of them told us that they enjoyed spending time and doing activities together, but that it was very important that each had some activities and commitments of their own.  They each continued to have an individual identity.  We have also found this to be important for us. We work together on this blog, but each have blogs for projects that we do primarily on our own (livingtogetherintheword.com and divergenthaiti.com) as well as going out with individual friends.  That allows us to each pursue personal interests and friendships which helps to keep our own conversations more interesting.

The third article, Embracing Life’s Second Act, is an interview of Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. by the Editors.  Sister Joan has a marvelous approach to retirement and aging from a spiritual perspective.  She encourages each of us to see the value of the experiences of our lives and to become the source of wisdom for our grandchildren and the next generation.  Her book, The Gift of Years, has been an inspiration for us.  We highly recommend it.

Enjoy!

Note:  U.S. Catholic is available by subscription only, but the current (and prior) issue(s) are available on their web site:  uscatholic.org.  Most of the articles are readable there.  On the header bar, click on Magazine.  The August issue is not yet available, but should be by Friday or early next week.

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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.

Check out Bob’s Divergent Haiti seminar here.

Posted in Aging Together, Catholic Marriage, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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