If you’ve been following our blog for a while, then you know that Rachel and I are awesome friends. You may also know that we love all things fall, including pumpkins, the changing of the leaves, boots, and scarves. Further, you may be aware that we both met our husbands on CatholicMatch and then I met mine after being urged by Rachel to join CatholicMatch. You can read about our successes in the world of online dating here.
What you may not know is that we were both married in the fall. I’ve just celebrated my first year of marriage with Superman exactly one month ago, and Rachel’s third with the Scientist was last week. In honor of these anniversaries, and remembering why we founded this blog to begin with, which was to support the vocation of marriage as understood within the Catholic Church, we thought we would reflect on our marriage journeys thus far.
2017 was a very big year for both of us…as was 2016…and we met in 2015…2018 is shaping up to be quite the year, too, so, really…we’ve been pretty busy since we met!
2015: The meeting of Rachel and Kristi at a Catholic Daughters of the Americas meeting. The joining of CatholicMatch by Kristi. The first anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. Babies born into Heaven. Just barely the year that Kristi and Superman met online (like, December 30).
2016: The meeting of Rachel, the Scientist, Kristi, and Superman. The premature stillbirth of Rachel’s son, Tripp. The engagement and wedding of Kristi and Superman. The second anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. The “familymoon” with Little Miss.
2017: The conception, premature birth, and loss of Rachel’s daughter, Frances. The career change of Superman. The conception of Kristi’s second daughter, Belle. More babies born into Heaven. The first anniversary of Kristi and Superman. The third anniversary of Rachel and the Scientist. Kristi moving.
As you can see, there’s been a lot that could’ve weighed very heavily on our marriages. How’d we do? Read on!
Last October, I walked into my parish ready to marry this wonderful, hilarious, sensitive, kind-hearted, Catholic man. I felt not one trace of nerves: we just fit. Not everything went according to plan, but it was the perfect day. (If you’re interested, you can read my open letter to my bride self on Spoken Bride here).
One year in and I am happy to report that we are busy, sometimes overwhelmed, and unable to function without a family dry-erase board calendar; but we are happy.
We were both single into our thirties, so our ways were pretty set when we met. Luckily, though, we complement one another perfectly. He’s a champion launderer of all the fabric and I am a decent dishwasher of all things containing food. Holidays have become a manageable, streamlined, stress-free thing (for this year, at least). Money is still something that can be a topic of tension: I mean, who really enjoys budgeting?! Otherwise, though, our life experience alone blends together to create the family that I’d always hoped for as a young woman.
We laugh constantly. I can’t emphasize enough how much I think that matters in marriage. Humor, levity, and community are all joined together in laughter.
We’re balancing work-home life, keeping up with our eight year-old Little Miss, moving (this week!), and expecting our second daughter in the spring. We like to think that we’ll slow down eventually, but that’s never really been our style. I am so psyched to see what we encounter in the rest of our second year of marriage.
The morning of November 21st, 2014 was beautiful and calm. I was up getting ready for my wedding to my best friend and soulmate.
I waited a long time for him to come along; I went down many wrong paths trying to find him. It was when I stopped searching for all the wrong places, I found my perfect-to-me mate for life.
That day went by in a flash; it felt like no time had passed and I was walking down the aisle. Our wedding was beautiful; it was on a Friday night. We had a full Mass and the pictures that my cousin-in-law took were breathtaking. It was our dream wedding and the party afterward went by way too quick.
The first year of marriage was tough on us. I know that in the marriage prep course (and advice from everyone) is that every day you should be working on your marriage. I had no idea what that meant, or the intensity of that, until I was married. I did not realize that my usual patient self (anyone who knows me would laugh) would have to compromise. The little things that we used to argue about: dishwasher manners, watching cool TV (not lame things); all those things were worked out that first year. It was quite a learning curve for both of us. We learned a lot about ourselves that first year and how to work through all the little things.
The second year was the year we really came together as a couple. We found our boundaries with each other and others. This was a big expectation and goal for us last year. Boundaries make good relationships great! We really started to pare down on what we were going to outside of our home. Too many extra activities made us worn out and crabby. When we slowed down it was as if we were courting again and finding our love all over again. It is such a sweet feeling.
The third year? 2017? Well since we have been married, we have faced a lot of hardships, tragedy, and emotional toil. We have been really fortifying as a couple to face these things with the power of God. God truly knew what he was doing when he put us together. The Scientist always knows how to encourage me, comfort me, and make me laugh. He always says that I bring joy, happiness, and fun into his everyday life. In real life, I am kind of a goofball and he is such handsome goof. Our life together is blessed and I am lucky to spend the rest of my life with him.
“Encourage each other daily while it is still today” Hebrews 3:13
The other weekend was rough for The Scientist and me. We had no idea why we were squabbling over all the little bitty things. Sunday came when we sat down and had our family meeting.
In our household, we sit down every Sunday and go over the week, the menu plan, and the budget for that particular week coming up. This is a great time for us to discuss matters upsetting our marriage or personal beings. Both of us were on the edge and I realized why; basic manners in our marriage seemed nonexistent.
The Scientist and I are now applying manners to our married life and it has reshaped our marriage and our other relationships with family and friends.
Flashback to Childhood
This exact weekend made me think of my childhood; my sister and I were terrible fighters. It got to the point where we were so unbearable that others seemed uncomfortable. Mom sat me down, in her office (her master bathroom) and we discussed what it meant to practice being kind. Those discussions came in handy as I started to navigate manners and social norms. Mom’s advice was, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Matthew 7:12. That advice is solid and it works when you apply it. Sometimes we forget and our reactions are rude. The best thing to do when those things happen is to humble yourself, apologize or forgive, and try better the next time.
5 Manners That Should Matter
1. Say “please” and “thank you.” When you say those magic words, they take the request from a command into a work of love.
2. Excusing yourself. This is hard when we are having a meal together; we automatically get up without asking and leave to do other things. Staying and asking permission from your spouse or child is showing respect to your family.
3. Be on time. I am notorious for being late and saying that I am ready in a certain amount of time. Try to manage your time so when you are on a time limit, you are showing your spouse that your respect their time and goals for that outing.
4. Say I love you. Those three words are the most powerful words in our language. It is a great reminder to yourself that you should act in love towards your spouse.
5. Not saying “I want.” It sounds selfish; it’s all you. By replacing that statement with “May I have…” or “I would like…” you are giving your spouse respect with their opinions and coming together as one.
What are some suggestions, on manners with your spouse?
About My Girl, Saint Rose of Lima
Her feast day is today, August 23. Saint Rose grew up in Spain and, according to history, she was quite the looker. They nicknamed her Rose because she was really beautiful. Saint Rose definitely did not like the attention and wanted to dedicate her life to God. Her parents wanted her to marry (and quick!). She refused and kept on asking to go into the convent…her parents refused the request.
Saint Rose then did the only thing she could do: obey, but with a twist. She stayed in solitude in her home with her parents. She dedicated her life to The Third Order of Saint Dominic. She cared for the elderly, homeless children, and the sick. She still got offers to marry, though, so she quickly did things to make herself less beautiful. As we all know, though, beauty is on the inside.
Saint Rose covered her face in pepper, which caused sores. She also wore a silver crown with thorns that cut her head and she cut her hair in a displeasing way. Her beauty shined through her everyday obedience to God and to his will helping out the locals. When she died, multiple men from the community carried her casket.
A Saint for Me
Saint Rose’s story made me (and still does make me) cry. slShe lived her life in a way that was beautiful. She obeyed her parents and God’s will for her life. She went through many sicknesses and employed extreme self-discipline tactics that really put her health in danger.
What I love about her is that she stayed the course and she got stronger in her convictions. Saint Rose never gave up her faith and dedication to God. She knew that she would have to have discipline in her life to do her vocation.
St. Rose & My Marriage
In every marriage, I feel there is some area that needs growing and attention more than the others. There might be more than one area, to be really truthful. In my marriage we don’t have a ton of self-discipline. You are probably wondering why you need that in marriage, right?
When I read Saint Rose’s story I was thinking to myself, “How I can apply this to my life?” God definitely used this cool Catholic woman to show me a lot of areas where I need self-discipline.
It was a huge surprise for me when I started to deeply think about self discipline; that prayer was an area that I needed help in. I pray every day and I make sure to say certain prayers. So why was God pointing out the hubby and I needed more disciplined when we pray? Well you know how sometimes you want to do things quickly so you can hurry about your life? Hubby and I do that with our nightly rosary, or we only do a decade because we are exhausted. I read her story to the Scientist and the first thing he said (without any prompting for me) was “We need to be more intentional with our nightly rosary.” I was in shock that he thought the same exact problem that God showed me. Our solution? Move it out of our bed and into the family room, in front of our home altar.
2. Family Time
The second thing I dwelled on in this conversation with God was my family time. The Scientist and I spend every waking minute together, whenever we have the chance, so it didn’t seem like we needed anything here. However…we need to be more intentional about what we are doing in those moments together. We love to play cards, chess, and board games; listen to music; watch YouTube videos, movies, or TV shows; plan our dream house; talk about budgeting and frugal living; make plans with our friends and family…you know how it goes. What it comes down to is that we leave our door open to other distractions when we are together. When we play games, our phones are out and Facebook is also there, playing with us. We need more discipline to put our phones up and away when we are together. We can check emails and social media when we are not spending quality time together. Our focus is on quality time rather than distraction by our beautiful little piece of technology.
3. Mass Times
I am going to be honest with you, Sundays are one of the two days, The Scientist and I like to sleep in. We are fans of the weekends. The Scientist not only works during the day, he also coaches football, so usually we are up at 4:30 a.m. each weekday. We like to spend time together working out, praying, and eating together before he heads out. The team he coaches usually practices in the morning, before school. But on Sundays, we like to sleep in until 8:00 or 9:00. I know it is still early for some, but it’s late for us. The mass that we love to go to is 8:00 a.m. Mass. It is wonderful and I just love it. Growing up we always had one set Mass time that we went to. I feel it adds structure to your day and week, but lately The Scientist and I have been sleeping in and Mass-hopping and rushing to get there. The solution here is to tighten our belts and make sure we get up right away when the alarm rings.
One Last Nugget of Saintly Wisdom
My favorite quote from St. Rose is “The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases”. I love this so much because it is the truth. When I intentionally pray, put my phone down, and stay with the planned Mass time, my marriage improves one hundred percent.
It’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week! #NFP
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING: NFP
NFP stands for Natural Family Planning. NFP is a way to track your menstrual and ovulation cycles to achieve pregnancy or abstain from creating life. It’s natural, as you are not taking hormones to stop your cycles, implanting anything in your body, or “fixing” that which isn’t broken. It’s the most organic way to monitor your cycle and it works with your body.
There are several different methods of NFP to choose from. The Scientist and Rachel use the Creighton Method while Kristi and Superman use the Marquette Method. Each method has it’d own protocol to record specifics about your cycle to determine optimum days for baby making (if you’retrying to conceive (TTC)) or, if you and your husband discern that now isn’t the time (trying to abstain (TTA)), it also determines days you should abstain from sex.
Yes. Abstain from sex. We’re both newlyweds here, remember? We know that abstaining sometimes sucks. But as Catholic Christians, we’re called to be open to life with each marital act of love. Natural Family Planning works with your body and it’s natural timing so that each act is free of barriers: open to life, regardless of the likelihood you’ll conceive.
Now that I have been practicing NFP on a regular basis, I realize how important it is to your overall health.
We chose the Creighton Method because it is reliable and easy to understand. It allows both of us to be responsible in our journey to be open to life. The method for me is so important, as I now know signs of trouble or sickness within me. You become really observant of your body and it forces you to be more health-conscious.
The most surprising thing that we learned while practicing this method, is that we are stronger with our intimacy. A main component that this method teaches is that you and your spouse are responsible for communicating your needs.
They teach the acronym S.P.I.C.E which stands for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creativity/Commutative, Emotional. Creighton Method teaches you to be intimate in times of abstaining and when engaging. The method is really well-rounded in taking care of you wholly instead of just tracking your cycles.
Superman and I chose the Marquette Method because, to me, it feels more controlled. It doesn’t monitor cervical mucus like some methods do, which is great for me, because I have really confusing cervical mucus anyway. It feels very scientific and it reassures my control-freak mind.
With Marquette, you use an Ovulation Monitor and pee on a stick each day. The monitor measures your LH (luteinizing hormone) and gives you readings of low, high, or peak. Based on Marquette Method rules, Superman and I use this information to abstain or attempt to create a new life, depending on how we’ve discerned that month.
We’re in frequent communication about our family size, when to grow it, and the like, which aids in our marital intimacy. Intimacy isn’t just physical. I bet you’ll find that NFP improves communication.
Talk to us: NFP
Questions about NFP? Ask them here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. if we don’t know the answer, we’ll point you in the right direction.
Already use NFP? Share your experience with us! Also, head over to our Facebook page as we’ve been sharing a TON of Natural Family Planning articles.
My daddy came to visit me on his work trip and I had the opportunity to sit down and ask him for some advice. My dad and mom have been married for 40 years (41 in August!). My dad also works for the Archdiocese of St. Louis as a deacon.
In our family (and church family), he goes by the nickname of Deacon Dave, so his advice is not only from the perspective of years, but from spending time with God and getting wisdom from our Heavenly Father.
Here’s a little Q & A session with one of my favorite guys in the whole world (if you can’t tell, I am definitely a Daddy’s Girl!).
R: When did you know you were going to marry momma?
D: Easy. Two weeks after I met her. She thought I was out of my mind, so I waited for another ten months before I proposed again. She said yes.
R: How did you know momma was The One?
D: I was very lonely and I prayed for God to send me someone. Two days later, I met her at a party and I knew instantly that God was pointing me in her direction.
R: What advice would you give couples starting out?
D: That you have to be committed to one another and that you have to communicate.
R: What groups do you and mom participates in for strengthening your marriage and why?
D: The biggest Group is the Church itself, to be active in the community together every Sunday.
We go to our Marriage and More (M and M’s) for the last 20 years. It’s a group of 4-5 married couples. The group is meant to be a support to one another and to have an outlet for fellowship with other couples who have gone through different stages in our marriages. To know that you are not the only ones that have experienced your stage and where you are, to give advice on what works and what doesn’t.
The ACTS Community is another community that we are constantly engaging in to strengthen our relationships with others in a Catholic environment.
But the most important group we’re in is a group of two. Mom and I say our prayers together every night. When you get married, your spouse is the most intimate person in your life. It is such a binding force to combine your spiritual life with your spouse. This strengthens both your faith and your marriage.
R: How has marriage changed with kids, from when we were little to now, as grown adults?
D: When you were children we dealt with daily crises. Now as you guys are adults, we don’t deal with crisis on a daily basis. As much as we are involved, we are not responsible in the decision making of our children. I point you kids in the right directions and you make the choice on what to do. As children pointed you to the right direction and made sure you chose it (and sometimes we chose it for you).
R: What advice do you give couples today for strengthening marriage?
D: Try to listen with an open mind, trying to be loving, gentle, and kind to your spouse. You want to love even when you are mad. You want to step back from your anger to calm down and listen to what your spouse is saying; not necessarily the words, but the emotions behind the conversation. Be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. And to learn your spouses love language.
R: What would you have changed, if you could, in communication with momma in the beginning?
D: We were very young and immature. I always wanted to please her, so I was a yes man without a conversation, saying yes without meaning it. That led to resentment. If I could have learned to manage my want to please and learn to communicate better, I feel we would have had a smoother beginning.
Leaning on God is what our vocation is about! Learning to love your spouse and children through the tough times will build and strengthen your own marriage foundation.
Those are my daddy’s pearls of wisdom. Do your parents or elders have any advice to share with us? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.