What Makes a Good Marriage?

wedding rings

(Photo Credit)

Last week I started this series by laying out what the Church teaches about marriage. This week I’d like to reflect on what makes a good marriage. Michael and I will be married nine years come August, so I’m no means an expert, but I am going to share some of the things that work for us.

1. Praying together. Father Patrick Peyton used to say that “the family that prays together, stays together.” He was referring specifically about the rosary – and we should pray the rosary with our families – but we certainly can and should pray in other ways too. Like going to mass together each week, praying the scriptures, or other vocal prayers. The quickest and easiest way to have a happy and lasting marriage is to put God at the center.

2. Praying for each other. During our personal prayer we should remember to pray for our husbands. We also shouldn’t be afraid to ask them to pray for us!

3. Communication. We all know that good communication is essential in any relationship, especially marriage. It is important to make time to talk to each other about the “big” stuff: finances, our children, our dreams, etc. It is also important to communicate the “little” things as well, such as a change in schedule or plans. Finding a system that allows you and your husband to stay on the same page will go along way in avoiding misunderstandings and bickering.

Let me just say here that Michael and I are both introverts and I have a definite tendency to hold things in. We have to make the extra effort to communicate and it’s not always easy. However, that effort is so worth it and it makes a huge difference in our relationship!

4. Forgiveness. Stuff happens. Our husbands can (and probably will) hurt us, either intentionally or not and either in a big way or not. And we can (and probably will) hurt them at times. And sometimes a lot of little hurts (whether real or imagined) can fester and add up to a huge thing. The best thing is to clear the air right away and not let the little things get big. We have to pray and we have to let go. We have to make the choice to forgive.

5. Time. The greatest thing we can give someone we love is the gift of time. I know finding time can be so hard. Believe me. Michael took me out on at date last Saturday and it was the first date we’ve had in about a year! While out, we decided that we are going to make a point of going on a date at least once a month, even if it just means taking a ride for 30 minutes. We find time for what is important to us, so make the time to be together alone as a couple – if only for 5 minutes!

As an aside, if you are having trouble with time management, I highly recommend Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. (That’s an affiliate link posted on my review.)

6. Acceptance. Many people, either consciously or unconsciously, go into a marriage hoping to change something (or somethings) about their other half. The truth is you can’t and if you try, it can cause bitterness in your marriage, either within yourself or your spouse. It’s not our job to change our husbands, it’s God’s. We need to accept our spouse and love him unconditionally, with God’s grace.

With me, it was money. I am a minimalist. I don’t spend money lightly and like my life and surroundings as simple as can be. Michael, well, he likes to spend. He was a bit of a big spender before we got married and it caused some problems for us when we did get married. I was handling the bills at the time and I remember I would get so angry when he spend money, especially when he would forget to tell me about it. I started getting resentful and bitter toward him. Thankfully, during prayer, God convicted me in prayer and realized that I am the one who needed to change. Michael agreed to take over the bills and we discovered Financial Peace University. It made a big difference in my attitude and I let go of trying to form Michael into my ideal. (And, ironically, he has cut his spending tremendously and able to appreciate my frugality!)

7. Enjoy your marriage! Don’t take yourself or your marriage too seriously. In the midst of all your responsibilities do try to have fun! You married your spouse for a reason, so keep those wonderful qualities your spouse possesses forefront in your mind and heart.

Your turn. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. What qualities do you think makes a good marriage?

(Linked to 7QT.)

My Ten Goals for 2012

Set Goals(Photo Credit)

I’ve never been a fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. It feels like nothing more than setting ourselves up for failure. After all, how many of us make resolutions only to break them by the end of January (or by the end of the first week!)?

For me, I prefer to set goals that I want to achieve for the new year instead. A matter of semantics? Probably.ย  Setting goals rather than resolutions feels more doable and realistic. And, if I don’t reach the goal, I’m not as hard on myself: I just re-evaluate and set new goals.

In that spirit, here are ten goals I want to reach this year, divided into areas of life I want to work on/improve:

Spiritual/Virtue Goals

1. Prayer. A never-ending goal. I can always improve on this, of course. In particular, though, this year I am going to make a point of MAKING time for quiet prayer and meditation – at least 10 minutes a day. This will help me tremendously in my next goal.

2. Peace. My “Word” or “theme” for 2012 is “peace“. My goal is to allow God to work in me so that I handle each day, each situation calmly and peacefully.ย  The Lord has been putting John 14:27 into my heart:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

So, my goal is to let God’s peace rein in my heart and that I may be an “instrument of peace” to others.

Spousal Goals

3. Attentiveness. My goal is to be more attentive to the needs of my hubby and even to anticipate them when I can.

4. Positiveness. To be more positive in the way I interact with and think about my husband. To always give him the benefit of the doubt before I over-react and jump down his throat. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Mothering Goals

5. Live in the moment. My goal in this area is to enjoy whatever activity we are currently engaged in, rather than rushing through them because I am too busy thinking of all the other things I have to do.

I don’t know about you; but, I have a tendency of looking ahead to what has to be done next or thinking about all the other things on my to-do list. I want to intentionally focus on the moment and enjoy each moment with my son. He is growing up so fast, it’s almost scary!

6. Foster a love of books. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that getting my son to practice his reading has been a bit of a challenge. {Ahem} It has gotten better in this area and I want to continue this progress; so, in 2012 I want to read to him more than I already do and hopefully spark in him a greater interest for books and reading.

Personal Goals

7. Break my blasted sugar addiction once and for all. My downfall is ice cream (vanilla with M&Ms to be exact); but, I’m not opposed to cake cookies, brownies…Oh the list goes on. So, I’m going cold turkey. I’m giving up sugar. I’ve done my research, prayed about it and I’m ready for the week from hell. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’ve read in several places that the first week is the hardest and then it gets easier. I hope so!)

I’m not doing this to lose weight; although I’m not opposed if that happens. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m doing it because I want to live healthier and eat better. I want to gain better control of what I put in my body as opposed to giving in to my cravings.

8. Get straight A’s. I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but thanks to a series of God-incidences, I am going back to school to get my bachelors degree [in English]. I have an Associates degree and have been wanting to go back to college to finish for a long time, so I am deeply grateful for this opportunity! I will be starting out with two courses in the spring semester, one in the summer session and going into full-time in the fall.

Blogging/Business Goals

9. Weekly series. One of my main goals for blogging this year is to do a weekly series focusing on an aspect of our faith. For example: In January I want to do a series on life, In February I want to do a series on marriage, etc. In the future my plan is to do a series on discerning God’s will, the mystery of suffering, the sacraments, etc. I still have to work out the particulars, but I hope to begin shortly!

10. e-Books. I have a few e-book ideas that have been brewing in my brain over the last few months. My goal is to publish 4 e-books – one each quarter of the year. (More details to come as each e-book comes to fruition – Hopefully!!)

What are your goals for 2012? Do share. Or, if you’ve done a yearly goals post, feel free to post a direct link to said post in the comments!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday.)

What the Catholic Church Teaches about the Rapture

RaptureAs you can see, it is three days past the end of the world Rapture deadline and we are still here. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, all the talk about last judgement and the Rapture got me curious: What does the Catholic Church teach about the Rapture? I knew the Church doesn’t believe in the rapture, but I never bothered to look it up and find out why. This past weekend I took some time to read up on it and pray about it, and found out some interesting facts.

What exactly is “The Rapture”?

Have you ever seen the movie (or read the books) “Left Behind“? The book and movie give a good synopsis of the rapture; which is basically, without warning “the saints” will secretly be taken up (“raptured”) into the heavens by Jesus. The sinners on the other hand will be left on earth to suffer the tribulation that is to precede the end of the world.

How the rapture doctrine was developed.

This was an eye-opener for me. I discovered an article on americancatholic.org by Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., Ph.D that the rapture was promulgated by a religious figure named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). He was ordained in the Church of Ireland, but in time he left the church for a group called the Plymouth Brethren. He became a leader of that church and in the 1830s he started teaching about the “rapture of the saints” which he believed was revealed to him by God. This belief was denounced by the Plymouth Brethren as not being biblically based, so he separated himself from his community. He started traveling extensively and became very prominent in many areas of Europe, US and Canada where his ideas caught fire and spread. Ironically, some scholars believe that they got his ideas on the rapture from a little girl who claimed to have visions of a two-part second coming of Christ – not from the bible.

Another interesting fact is that until the last 20 years or so the rapture doctrine was refuted by mainstream protestants, until it was popularized by televangelists and other popular evangelists.

What Scripture says about the rapture.

The two scripture verses most quoted in defense of the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4: 17 and Luke 17: 34-35. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up to the lord in the air. Thus, we shall always be with the Lord.”

Luke 17: 34-35 says: “I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken , the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.”

The other scriptures sometimes cited are John 14:3, 1 Corinthians 15:53, Matthew 24: 40-41, and Revelation 3:10. I will let you look those up yourselves.

If you read the scripture verses around those quotes, you will be able to see the context surrounding these verses. According Catholic Church Teaching, 1 Thess. 4: 17 refer to all those still living at the second coming of Christ will not die, but will be taken up in the air to meet Christ with those who already died. And Luke 17: 34-35, is a reminder to always be prepared for Jesus’ coming. I encourage you to read the article on americancatholic.org, as it does a great job explaining these scriptures.

What the catechism says about the rapture

Article 7, entitled “From Thence He Will Come Again To Judge The Living And The Dead“, explains the complete doctrine of the second coming, and I hope you will read it here. In talking specifically about rapture, there is not an “official statement” by the church in regards to the rapture, which according to the author of the article I linked to earlier, is because the rapture doctrine is a “late, and rather suspect on the scene.”

However, the Catechism states, relative to the second coming, the following in numbers 675 and 676:

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. 574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth 575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. 576

The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, 577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. 578″

The official Catholic Position

Although there is no specific statement from the church, from what we have read and learned from the above scriptures and catechism, there will not be two second comings. There will not be a “secret coming” where Jesus will come, take some believers, go back to heaven, and then come back to get the “rest” who have survived the tribulation.

Instead, Catholics take the view that was put forth by St. Augustine which is similar to the ‘ “Amillennialists” (whom you can read about here.) who believe in the coexistence of good and evil on earth until the end. The tension that exists on earth between the righteous and the wicked will be resolved only by Christโ€™s return at the end of time. The golden age of the millennium is instead the heavenly reign of Christ with the saints, in which the Church on earth participates to some degree, though not in the glorious way it will at the Second Coming.’

In other words: we are all in together until the end when Christ comes again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sources

I encourage you read the following articles to enhance your understanding of the rapture:

A Lesson in Sacred Scripture…Part II

americancatholic.org

catholic.com

catholiccompany.com

Catechism of the Catholic Church

scripturecatholic.com

catholicculture.org

I hope you have found this article helpful. It is important for us to understand what the Church teaches about these things. Do take the time to read the articles linked above. So many of us Catholics do not understand what the Church really teaches about the various issues we face in society today and that is very unfortunate.