13 Years and Going Strong!

Today, my husband and I are married 13 years. I can’t imagine where all the time has gone. Some days it feels like we just got married and some days it feels like we have been married forever. LOL! But, that is how it goes, right?

My husband Michael

My husband Michael

The “honeymoon phase” has long past and has been replaced by respect, understanding, and a deeper love I didn’t know existed. And yet, there are still frequent moments of swoon. Even after all these years, I still get excited and rejoice when he comes home from being on the road. Maybe him being a truck driver has kept things fresh!

Marriage, as has motherhood, has also taught me a lot about love and forgiveness. There have been very difficult times, times when I just think it would be better to give up, too. We have struggled and worked through disagreements and arguments. We have had to forgive each other a lot and have had to rely on the commitment we made to each other. We have had to choose love when choosing love was the last thing we wanted to do.

But, you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing!

Happy Anniversary, Michael!

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P.S. Today is also the memorial of the Queenship of Mary. Read about that here.

Goals for 2016 Update

I can’t believe it is June. Really?It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the year. How did that happen? I don’t know about you, but this year isn’t exactly shaping up the way I thought it would. My father-in-law had a heart attack and my husband had two heath concerns. Well, life happens and it is important to be flexible – something I struggle with!

To help me refocus, and as a way to stay accountable, I am sharing an update on how I am making out with my goals so far. It hasn’t been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am doing pretty well for the most part. It really has helped me to print out the list and check off each item as it is done. Anyway, without further ado, here is the update:

Image by condesign (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Image by condesign (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Marriage Goals

  • Have a date night with Michael at least once a month –So far, we have made every month!
  • Read one book on marriage per month – Except for May, I’ve read at least one marriage/family book per month.
  • Write Michael a love note at least once a month – on track here.

Motherhood Goals

  • Read at least one book to Andrew per month – I haven’t necessarily finished a book a month with him, but I have been continuing to read to him, at least a little bit, every day.
  • Write Andrew a love note at least once per month (hat tip to Crystal Paine for the idea) – on track here and it has been fun watching how much he enjoys the notes!

Personal Goals

  • Exercise/stretch at least 3 times per week – I had some severe leg pain that preventing me from exercising for a while but I have been doing my walking tape almost every day since the beginning of May.
  • Do one bible study a month – if you are following along, you know I am on track (except for the session 3 reflection) with this because I have been blogging through the book!

Business Goals

  • Officially launch my self-publishing company – I am planning on launching this month, God willing.
  • Create/Write one journal or book per month – This has fallen by the wayside. I have put together a lot of ideas, but I’ve only completed three journals so far this year. Hoping to get back on track this month.
  • Write 3 blog posts per week – Mostly on track with this, give or take a week or two.
  • Do daily โ€œMercy Momentโ€ Periscope, Monday through Friday – If all goes as planned, I am hoping to begin this next week!

Financial Goals

  • Save at least $10 per month – Not going as well as I hoped. We ran into some unexpected expenses which derailed our plan; however, I am hoping to get back on track soon.
  • Create a monthly budget with Michael and stick with it! – This is an on again/off again thing still. With Michael on the road so much, we don’t always get a chance to sit down together to do this. However, i am supposed to be taking over the bills soon and I will do it on my own, if I have to. ๐Ÿ™‚

The perfectionist in me wishes I was further along with some of my goals but it is what it is. The good news is that I’ve made some progress and I keep reminding myself that that is enough. I just have to remember that I am further along than I would have been if I hadn’t made any goals at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now it is your turn. How are you doing with achieving your goals? Do let us know in the comments!

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Tweetable: Goals for 2016 Update

Goals for 2016

Like many others, I have spend some time last week reflecting on how I did with my 2015 goals and planning for the new year. I didn’t do too bad with my goals last year; however, finishing up school sucked up most of my time and energy that most of the goals were put aside. Thankfully, I graduated in May (with high honors!) and took a much needed break.

One big thing that I was able to do was self-publish a prayer journal, Catholic Prayer Journal for Women. It was quite a learning experience and I plan to do more (see below).

Goals for 2016

Image by condesign (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In any case, for 2016, I am streamlining my goal setting and keeping them (hopefully!) short and actionable. Here they are:

Marriage Goals

  • Have a date night with Michael at least once a month
  • Read one book on marriage per month
  • Write Michael a love note at least once a month

Motherhood Goals

  • Read at least one book to Andrew per month (Now that he is reading so well on his own, this is falling by the wayside and I don’t want to let that happen anymore.)
  • Write Andrew a love note at least once per month (hat tip to Crystal Paine for the idea)

Personal Goals

  • Exercise/stretch at least 3 times per week
  • Do one bible study a month

Business Goals

  • Officially launch my self-publishing company
  • Create/Write one journal or book per month
  • Write 3 blog posts per week
  • Do daily “Mercy Moment” Periscope, Monday through Friday (more on that soon)

Financial Goals

  • Save at least $10 per month
  • Create a monthly budget with Michael and stick with it!

That’s it. My biggest goal is to be consistent in following these goals! On Wednesday, I will share my three words for 2016. Now its your turn. What are your goals for 2016? I’d love to know so please do share in the comments!

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Tweetable: Goals for 2016

7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

This month my in-laws will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary. That’s a big feat, considering that half of most marriages today end in divorce! On August 22, Michael and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary which certainly is not as long as my in-laws, but we are getting there!

love-163690_1280marriagewm

Therefore, although I do not consider myself an expert or anything, I thought I would share our “secrets” for a happy marriage. Of course, these aren’t really secrets at all, but they have helped us through the ups and downs that inevitably all couples face.

1. Pray Together. Living a faith-filled life together is the most important foundation to a happy marriage, and the foundation for a life of faith is prayer. It is not always possible to pray together. I know that from experience. Life gets busy, and with my husband being a truck driver, praying together can be a real challenge. We just do the best we can, and at the very least, we go to Mass together when he is home.

2. Pray for each other. It is not enough to pray together. Don’t forget to pray for your spouse, too! If he works outside the home, you never know how your prayers may support him in his daily struggles. I’m convinced that my prayers are helping to keep my husband safe on the road with all the driving he does!

3. Look at the positive. It can be way too easy, especially after you have been married for a while, to start criticizing your spouse, nagging or nitpicking over little things. I know that I am guilty of this, especially during certain times of the month. AHEM! To counterbalance this tendency, I try to make a point of listing at least two or three positive things about my husband. Some days are harder than others, but when I do this, it helps me get a better perspective about whatever it is I am griping about.

3B. To piggyback on #3, I want to encourage you not to bash your husbands in public. It is one thing to discuss marriage problems or situations with a friend or family member that you trust and confide in. It is a whole other beast if you trash your husband with a bunch of girlfriends during a gossip session. Nothing good can come from that. It breeds bad blood and only causes more trouble than good. Instead, try to avoid speaking negatively about your spouse in public. If things are that bad, I urge you to consult a priest or marriage counselor.

4. Forgive each other. As you know, no one is perfect. We all do and say things that hurt our husbands, as they do to us. Most of the time, though, the infractions are inadvertent. Someone is in a bad mood or had a rough day or not feeling well, and he or she takes it out on the other. Or, there is a breakdown in communication leading to fights about finances or chores or whatever. That’s why it is so important to forgive each other. If we don’t, those seemingly little things can build up into something very big, and potentially blow up in your face!

5. Communicate often. Communication, in my opinion, is the hardest part of marriage; and yet, it is so important. It is important to communicate small things, so that there is order, and to keep everyone on the same page. But it is equally important to communicate about big things. Oftentimes, before couples get married, they share their dreams, hopes, and fears. Sometimes those conversations end after couples are married for a while. But, they are even more important during marriage. True communication is important for fostering a connection with each other.

If you are your spouse struggle with communication, you are not alone. My “thing” is writing. It is so much easier for me to write how I feel or what’s in my heart, and so terribly difficult to speak those same feelings. If you have to, take the time to write letters to each other once in a while, and share what is in your heart. But, if you can verbalize your feelings, and learn to communicate effectively, it can bring your marriage to a whole other level of love, trust and connection.

6. Spend time together. Seems like aย  no-brainer, but with different schedules, and children’s activities, and work and other obligations, I’m sure you know some couples (or even you and your husband) who can go days without seeing each other, let alone spending time together. My husband is on the road a lot, so I can go up to almost two weeks without seeing my husband. It is hard, and when he is home, he either has a short time to get some things done, or he is so exhausted, all he wants to do is crash on the couch. But relationships don’t last if they are neglected. They take work, and I encourage you to find creative ways to spend time with each other, instead of living separate lives.

7. Make love often. The Catholic Church has a reputation for being a “kill-joy” and “prudish” for restricting sex for marriage. The Church doesn’t restrict sex until marriage to hurt us, but to help us. Sex is a sacred and holy act, meant to be shared between a husband and wife. Within the context of marriage, sex is a beautiful, and fun, thing! Unfortunately, just like everything else, after a couple has been marriage for a while, sex can become routine, andย  just another thing to do, or for some women, something to avoid. Please try not to let that happen. Try and find ways to keep that spark alive (barring any health issues).

Now it’s your turn. What are your “secrets” for a happy marriage? Please do share in the comments!

FREE PDF (No Opt-in required): 7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

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(Image is in public domain)

Book Review: A Most Inconvenient Marriage

A Most inconvenient Marriage reviewFrom Back Cover

“Abigail Stuart thought she was Jeremiah Calhoun’s widow. But Jeremiah Calhoun is very handsome, very alive, and very perplexed. Most inconvenient indeed.”

My thoughts

I am not much of a fan of historical fiction; however, when I had the opportunity to read and review A Most Inconvenient Marriage through the Bethany House blogger’s book review program, I couldn’t resist. The title of the book and the book cover intrigued me enough to want to read the book.

I’m actually glad I did read the book. Did it change my opinion of historical fiction? Not really. Surprisingly, however, my distaste for historical fiction did not mar my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, the book held my attention and I enjoyed getting to know the various characters. I liked how the relationship between Abigail and the “real” Jeremiah developed in the midst of the trials and twists that confronted them. I enjoyed Regina Jenning’s writing style and the way she interjects some humor and few elements of surprise into her writing.

If you are someone who likes historical fiction, I would recommend A Most Inconvenient Marriage and give it four (4) stars.

10 Ways to Love Your Spouse

wedding rings(Photo Credit)

In the first installment of this series on marriage we learned what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage. Last week, we talked about what makes a good marriage. Today I want to share some ideas on how to show your husband (or wife) you love him (or her). St. Valentine’s day is certainly not the only day to show your love. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just like ourselves, our spouses want to feel appreciated and loved all year round.

Here are some simple, free and yet wonderful ways you can let your spouse know you still care:

1. Blog about him. When we had our 8th wedding anniversary last year, I wrote a blog post about the things I loved about my husband. He loved it!

2. Love notes. Over the last few weeks I have been writing a little note in dollar store “thinking of you” cards. Michael doesn’t say much about them, but he has been calling me more often while driving for work just to tell me he loves me. ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Write a poem or song. Corny or not, this is a sweet way to say I love you. If you don’t have the talent you can buy or print some lovely poems.

4. Create a musical playlist. Or buy a copy of your spouses favorite music or CDs. My husband is a truck driver and he listens to music, talk shows and CDs while on the road. For Christmas, I gave him the CD set of recordings from the priest who gave our Advent parish mission. It was a hit. He was able to nourish his soul and pass the driving time in an enjoyable way and be reminded that I was thinking of him.

5. Go digital. Send your spouse an encouraging text or message on Twitter or Facebook or other favorite social networking site – even Pinterest.

6. Find out his preferred love language. My husband and I read and discussed The 5 Love Languages a long time ago. It made a huge difference for both of us. It was so helpful to understand what each other needs in order to feel loved and appreciated.

7. Anticipate his needs. We are all busy. Many of the moms reading this blog home school and/or work from home. Other moms work outside the home. We all have too much on our plates. But our husbands have a lot on their plates, too, even if it’s in a different way. Lately I’ve been trying to anticipate his needs and wants and do those tasks before he has to ask. Sometimes he notices, sometimes he doesn’t. Still, it’s a nice way to show we care.

8. Build him up in front of others. It can be easy to criticize or “bash” our husbands when we are with our girlfriends, family or others. All couples have issues at times and it can seem cathartic to be able to let all our problems out. It’s better for your marriage though, to talk out your issues with your spouse and/or find someone you trust (like a priest or confidant) that you can talk to. Then make it a point to only say good things about your spouse when you are out with others. And make sure your spouse “accidentally” hear these good things once in a while!

9. Compliment him. Remind him often of the things you admire about him. Be sincere, though, otherwise your compliment will sound contrived and unauthentic. Along the same lines, don’t forget to say “thank you” for all the things he does for you.

10. Give him a massage. Who doesn’t like to get a massage? And if your spouse spends a lot of time on his or her feet, there is nothing better than a foot massage after a long day. Or a back massage. Or any other kind of massage!

What are your favorite ways to show your spouse you love him (or her)? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Next week, in our final (for now) installment of this series on marriage, I am going to hit on a hot topic: submission in marriage.

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

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.)

What the Catholic Church Teaches about Marriage

The Lord has been putting it in my heart to do a little series on marriage* for a while, and since February is the ‘month of love’ with St. Valentine’s Day and all, I figured now would be a good as time as any to get it going. ๐Ÿ™‚

In this first installment, I am going to talk about marriage as a sacrament based on Scripture and the Catechism. Then over the next couple of weeks I’ll talk about what makes a good marriage, loving your spouse and finally a post on submission (which always seems to be a hot topic!). So let’s get started:

Marriage as a Sacrament

Before we talk about marriage as a sacrament, let’s remind ourselves what a sacrament is. According to the Baltimore Catechism, a Sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” The New Catechism states this a bit differently, a Sacrament is “an outward sign of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace.”

In the case of marriage, the outward sign would be the couple – husband and wife – itself. The inward reality, of course, would be Christ’s love for the Church.

As married people, we are a sign to the world of Christ’s abiding love for all people, the people whom He lived, suffered, died and rose again. We are a sign of the unseen heavenly realities of which our lives are directed. This is an incredible truth of our faith!

The Scriptural basis for marriage

You are probably familiar with many of the Scripture verses that relate to marriage, but let me remind you of one of them again. If you can, it may be nice to spend some time praying over this and the other verses during the month.

Genesis 2:21-24So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs, and closed up its place with flesh. the Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

This is one of several Scriptures. I encourage you to read Matthew 19:4-7, Mark 10:7-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5: 22-32, Revelation 19:6-8 for more verses, especially the ones pertaining to Christ and His Church.

What the catechism says about marriage

The catechism (articles 1601-1666) has some beautiful passages about the sacrament of marriage and I hope you will read them. There are a couple of powerful passages, however, that I want to point out:

“”The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (article 1601)

“”By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.” This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (article 1641)

The word covenant is worth noting here. Remember God’s covenant to Abraham? God made an everlasting promise to Abraham. In marriage, a couple makes an everlasting (until death) covenant to each other, before God, which in turn grants them their “own special gifts in the people of God.”

The Purpose of the Sacrament of Marriage

The church teaches us that the purpose of the sacrament of marriage is twofold: to help each spouse to grow in holiness and the “procreation and education of offspring (1601).”

Simple words, yet they aren’t always easy live out! I think that’s why we need the special graces afforded to us in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the day in and day out of living, we can forget the gift and the grace of our marriage state. It’s worth taking time time to reflect on our special calling once in a while. We need the reminder that marriage, Catholic marriage particularly, is so much more than what the world view of marriage shows us.

Next week I’ll get more practical and will share my thoughts on what makes a good marriage. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

*Just for your information, I will not be touching on topics such as divorce, marriage vs civil unions, birth control or other “hot” topics related to marriage in this series. I may in the future, but for now, I want to use this series to be an encouragement and support for those who are discerning marriage or who already married and looking to deepen their relationship with their spouse. ๐Ÿ™‚