Tag Archives: bliss

Truth vs. Emotion

10 Nov

ocean-waves-hitting-rocks

We live in a society that has become obsessed with emotion and feelings. This has resulted in lasting damage, not only to the Institution of Marriage, but to the faithful as well. Before you can combat an enemy, you must first recognize it. This means you must recognize when you are being driven by emotions and feelings instead of by Moral Truth. This can be harder than it sounds when you are immersed in a wicked society that insists moral truth is determined by feelings, instead of a set marks determined by God, the Church, and the Natural Law.

Marriage is about Moral Truth. The vow you make when accepting the sacrament of matrimony stands alone. Let us be honest – whatever feeling you that you thought was “love” that caused you to get married is gone by the end of the honeymoon phase or rapidly fading. If you do not refill the emptying cup of emotion, with the endless cup of truth then you will be unhappy and estranged in no time. Your “feelings” are transient and thus irrelevant. Whether the other person keeps their vows is also irrelevant so long as the marriage is valid and sacramental. This means that the proper intent existed at the time of the marriage itself. I know, you think I’m being harsh. I’ve been married about 25 years and I’m speaking from experience when I tell you that if you think marriage is about romantic love, your happiness, sex, marital bliss, convenience, the mother or father you never had, or the parent that failed you.

Now I will move to the most uncomfortable truth of all – marriage is not about your happiness, it is not about your sense of satisfaction, and it has nothing to do with making your burden lighter in this world. Matrimony is a sacrament – and like all sacraments, it is based on solid truth regarding faith and morals. It’s not based on, nor is it dependent on your emotions or feelings. It is dependent only on your commitment and obedience. Let that sink in while you head shakes side to side so fast that your eyeballs spin.

You do know that if your head is going side to side right now and your eyes are wide with disbelief, that you have work to do. You need to start defining your emotions and feelings, and stop letting your emotions and feelings define you. You need to make the choice to love your wife each morning, make the choice to avoid conflict, make the choice to speak well of her, make the choice to smile, and make the choice to obey your holy vows at the bestowal of the sacrament of Matrimony. Moral truth will then dictate your actions and emotions, you will do what is required of you, accepting that you are bound whether or not your spouse keeps her vows. You will now waggle you head and say – “No way – that’s not fair!”. Neither was Jesus dying on the cross to save your bacon. Your human sense of justice is rather infantile – in marriage we are called to something higher. You might think of it as “Duty”, but it is a mandate from God that you freely accepted.

Now I’ll tell you the good news. Most of the time – and I do mean “most”, and not all of the time – because we live in a wicked world. Doing this will change everything in your marriage for the better in ways you cannot possibly imagine. No, it will not happen overnight. It will not happen in just 1 week, or 30 days. It will be a process. A process in which you will change your life, and the lives of you and your spouse in the process. Things will improve over time, To be truthful, after about 25 years things are still improving. I don’t even know where it stops. When you base you marriage on truth – things start changing for the better. When you base your marriage on emotion then everything becomes a drama laden and stressful mess. I also know that when you live a marriage based on truth, then your own emotions and feelings are much more balanced, pleasant, and satisfying. In doing so you will have a distinct positive effect on those around you, especially on your spouse. You will feel a growing sense of contentment and happiness in your service. Romantic love will still come and go in an ebb and flow over the years – sometimes like a gentle breeze, and sometimes like a hurricane. However, if you base your marriage on Truth then your “love” in the “agape” and “storge” senses of the Greek words for love will never waver. It is then only “eros” that bandies about, rising and falling. When everything else is in balance with truth, then even “Eros” spends far more time up than down.

Imagine what might happen if you lived other aspects of your faith in Truth, instead of feelings or emotions?

Pax Christi,

The Sorrow of Ashley Madison and How to Fix It

19 Aug

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I know many of you have heard the news that Ashley Madison’s entire client list was hacked and published. That sheer number of people involved is staggering at 37 million! I find myself at a total loss to describe the level of failure the the replacement of Sacramental Matrimony with civil marriage has been. Clearly people are not happy, and clearly people (especially children) are being harmed by this abusive and destructive behaviour. The saddest part – there is an easier path to marital happiness.

While I can do nothing about what is happening on a national level – You can. Start with yourself, and pay it forward. I would like to relate to you a true story about what HAS HAPPENED that I was personally involved in many years ago. It even has a happy ending.

Almost 20 years ago I was working remotely on a job and was travelling quite frequently. One of the men under my direction was clearly having trouble with being away from his family and began to flirt with a waitresses. He was firmly rebuffed – being an engineer without the good looks, charm, or social graces necessary to entice a waitress to divulge her phone number after dozens of failed attempts. Yes I admit – I laughed about a few – and you would be rolling on the floor if you had witnessed some of the ludicrous and inept attempts. One evening he came to me, trying to set up an account on a website for cheaters but frightened to death because he didn’t want for his wife to see the credit card charge. There was a look of desperation in his eyes. His marriage was hurting with their first child recently delivered, a wife with no sleep and alone at home time, and the sexual rejection he thought he was receiving at home because he was too selfish to think past the end of his wee-wee and realize both of them were in the same exhausted boat.

When I found out the child was being bottle fed thanks to his mewling, I had an idea – and it didn’t involve helping him hide a credit card charge. With some help from his coworkers we got together and hatched a plan. I called the father in law from his phone left behind at dinner. I explained the plan, and got his support (seems the wife was feeling very down as well – and he loved the plan). Next we pitched in to buy the wife a round trip weekend ticket ($39 on southwest – like I said years ago) to be picked up at the airport, and then arranged for a dozen roses to be delivered with a note including the flight information Friday morning. I scheduled myself that weekend in his place to give him Friday night through Sunday night off. One of the guys also made a reservation at a romantic and moderately priced restaurant for him with a gift card to cover dinner, another pitched in a set of movie ticket gift certificates from the theater around the corner….

Friday morning and he didn’t know anything yet, on our way in to work I handed the hotel concierge the envelope with the dinner and movie things and explained why it had to be “hush hush”. Come dinner Friday night I ordered a large Guinness, and about 90% finished said, “Oh my lord, look at the time! I have a VIP to pick up at the airport!” I grabbed him and said, “I need a favor, you have to drive me to the airport to pick up the VIP. I can’t let a bigwig even think I would drink and drive!” He said, “Sure, my weekend is shot stuck here with you lot again… so whatever.” I stayed composed, openly fretting about whether I smelled of the luscious creamy stout I had downed, while we waited for our VIP at the gate (You could actually wait at the gate back then!)

When she came out of the gate, he almost knocked me off the seat running. Grandpa and Grandma had the baby for the weekend, and he had no idea she was coming. Surprise, joy, even kissing and hugging involving lifting people off their feet (not me).

I dozed in the back seat on the hours drive back to the hotel hoping and praying he would have a good weekend, and his wife too. When he got to his room the key didn’t work, he had to go back to the front desk – only to find out the concierge had moved them to a luxury suite for the weekend at no charge (including all his things), and thrown in a fruit basket and champagne. In all fairness we had almost lived in that hotel for most of the year – but this was above and beyond even for them. We didn’t see them until after lunchtime when they headed out for coffee, a walk, and a movie before dinner. Sunday night when it was time to take her to the airport, I drove them as they whispered in the back seat and held hands. He kissed her goodbye and put her on a plane. We went back to the car.

It was the trip home, amidst his gushing thanks – that I reminded him that only a few days ago he was willing to risk his marriage and his relationship with a woman who clearly loved him and thought he hung the moon – for a waitress he didn’t know, and then a stranger on a website. It hit him like a ton of bricks… his face fell and he started sobbing. I stopped in a parking lot and explained to him that he just learned the most valuable lesson a man can know at his age without actually screwing things up, and for that he should be profoundly happy that he had dodged that particular bullet. I also pointed out that the cost and effort to make such arrangements was trivial for someone at his salary level and he needed to focus on just putting a fraction of the effort into wooing his wife as he did trying to find some woman to provide sex. I told him truly that if he would do that he would have all the sex he could handle, and a wife that would never look at another man the way she looked at him.

2 Years later – The grandparents were still helping out with the kids (yes they had another) and the wife was living her dream of seeing the world, as the husband uses his frequent flyer miles on companion tickets and free flights for her to visit him in countries across the globe. Instead of being estranged, they are still like two teenagers in love.

Many years later – We run into each other on a large job where he is working under me again. After the others filtered off after dinner, he waited behind to thank me. He told me, “I could never repay what you did for me and my wife, so I am doing it for others.” I think I had some beer foam in my eye and I had to wipe it away, but I thanked him and wished him a very long, prosperous, and happy life and marriage.

If you somehow missed the moral of this true story – and no, it has nothing to do with having a stout with dinner. It is that if you would put half the effort you put into attracting other women’s attention, and directed it instead into your wife and marriage then everything changes. It’s a matter of priorities. When you invest in your wife and your family you always come out way ahead, and you simply can’t lose because there are never any regrets when you act honorably.

Pax Christi,

Colin

Let your Wife Drive…

15 Jun

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Let’s be realistic here. Too many men think Leading = doing everything for people. This can be especially disastrous in marriage, especially for wives – but also for families should you become ill or incapacitated. It has more localized effects and benefits as well, but the overall benefits to your relationship with you wife are the really important ones.

Have you ever been out fishing on a boat? I have spent an inordinate amount of my life on the water, and I noticed something different about our boat from the others for the first time yesterday. It was the only fishing boat with a woman driving. Why is that important you ask? Well I’ll ask you a few questions. If something happens to you can she pick you up safely and get the boat back to shore even if you’re unconscious? Could she do it in the same adverse conditions you could? In short, how can you truly function as a team if you can’t carry the other when necessary?

Stop for a minute and think how this lesson applies to your life together – everything from finances to basic property maintenance. To work as a team you need to help each other get the work done, not have one person helpless and dependent on the other for everything. A wife is not a thing to be kept, she is a fully capable human being ordained by God to stand beside you and be your helpmate. Don’t cripple her capabilities because of your insecurity and thwart God’s plan. You might even discover your wife is better than you at critical skills – this is a gift and makes you a better team. Never forget that you are on the same team, just as God himself ordained – and act accordingly.

Leadership in the family is not about doing for them and keeping them dependent. Leadership in the family is in loving them and making them fully self-sufficient, and not fully dependent on you. Make sure that you are never in a position where your wife thinks she couldn’t do something without you. Think about this, do you want her bound to you by need or by choice. Me personally – I want my wife to be with me because she wants to be with me more than anything else, not because she feels insecure and incapable of caring for herself. In fact, I have seen a number of relationships experience great difficulties when wives began to explore self-reliance much to the chagrin and disparagement, rather than than the active participation and encouragement, of their husbands.

If you lead your wife and family well, you will never question why your wife is with you, nor what binds you together. Fail to lead them and you will always wonder.

Pax Christi,

Colin

 

 

A Rash of Unwanted Divorces – Prayers Needed

21 Apr

Recently I have personally witness a seeming rash of divorces by long married couples with wives leaving husbands of 20-34 years. The wives have left without saying a single word prior – and in several cases gutting the couples financial resources just before retirement. The husbands are left confused and conflicted. One thing that has stood out to me is that the husbands all did not see any signs that the divorce was coming – until the day it happened.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. My wife has pointed out that there is definitely a failure to communicate in many instances and cited some examples for me. I was not shocked by anything she said. I was however shocked that small wounds were allowed to fester to a boiling point before anything was said. Often, these women have suffered in silence for years. It was not generally the size of the wounds which were killing the marriage, but rather the untreated festering infection.

What is the solution? As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One thing I observed is that some of these women feared their husbands in some way – some even physically. These bother me the most – your wife should never fear being physically harmed by you as her husband.  Others were just averse to conflict. You need to learn to listen carefully, and reply thoughtfully. You can chew your food before you swallow – do the same with your thoughts – chew on them a bit before you blurt them out. Words are the single most dangerous thing we have in a marriage. Be careful with yours always, think before you speak – and speak kindly always. We can blame the wives all we want for what they did or did not do, but it won’t save your marriage from divorce or make your wife happy. The fix requires more than being attentive, it means serious effort on your part. Remember that you cannot change other people – you must accept and love her as she is. Instead change yourself as that is something you do have control over and can change.

Trust is paramount. She has to be sure she can share honest feelings with you without facing retaliation emotionally, verbally, or physically. You have to listen, consider, and find ways to address her concerns in a matter that resolves them to both of your satisfaction. I highly recommend the tactical approach of listening carefully while repressing negative facial expressions or comments, then thinking carefully about how to respond, only after that – do you open your mouth and do so. Peoples tongues are the source of more self inflicted marital wounds than many realize. DO NOT tell her it is her fault, denigrate her, or blame her in your response. Focus your response solely on what you can do to alleviate her concerns and then do it. This is NOT a negotiation, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT say things like I’ll do X if you do Y.

Keep in mind that often women just need to vent their feelings in a safe environment. They do not expect you to necessarily fix it – what they want is for you to listen. Letting her get her feeling out by listening attentively. Act when it is appropriate, and listen and hold her when action is not required.

Your wife might trust you with her life and well being, yet not trust you with her heart. This is where the problems fester and grow. You need to regain her faith in you to counter this, and open deep lines of communication. While you might want to say that telling her to make changes would make more sense – it does not. The only person you can change is you, so work with what you have. Make sure you are attentive to her feelings, emotions, and the little things she says. You won’t get this right most of the time being male, but she will appreciate sincere interest in her and her feelings. For what you have done, and what you have failed to do… Often we hear Catholics say this mantra, but fail to heed it. Have you given your wife cause to think that there are things important to her that she cannot accomplish within marriage – things in keeping with sacramental marriage, of course? Maybe it’s travel, education, learning to play an instrument, learning to ride a motorcycle, learning to hunt/shoot/fish, or becoming a HAM radio operator. Don’t fail her by ruling things out. Don’t put unnecessary impediments or barriers on your marriage. Married life is like a dance, it works best if both parties move together as one. If your wife takes the time to tell you about her dreams and goals – listen and then start working to make them happen. Learn to take a hint, and act on it.  Where such is feasible it is an opportunity for you to grow together – find joy in it. Service to your wife does not have to be a sacrifice – it can be a source of unending joy and discovery for both of you. Don’t fail to make sure your wife knows that there is nothing she can accomplish outside marriage that cannot be accomplished within marriage more easily. Don’t fail to support and work towards her goals as well – after all you expect her to work towards and support yours.

Intimacy is always of paramount importance – I cannot stress this enough. It is through intimacy that the bond between man and woman is strengthened and maintained. Sexual relations are a byproduct of intimacy, not the other way around.  So many marriages suffer from unresolved sexual issues because people refuse to communicate. Do not assume you are “doing it right” – even after years of marriage. Do not ask for a critique of your performance. Instead, do ask your wife what would please her – and then follow her guidance exactly and without hesitation. Too often women are shortchanged here because they are making a sacrifice to protect their husbands ego and self-image. Frustration builds over time, never deny her the marital embrace and accompanying intimacy – ignoring her or refusing her is a rejection. Rejection destroys intimacy at the root.. Give her the opportunity to protect your self-esteem, your marriage, and have her needs met by opening lines of communication. You may find yourself surprised at the changes in your experience when you stop worrying about yourself and focus every fiber of your being on pleasing her. You may also be astounded by the levels of intimacy that can be achieved when she does not feel sex is a sacrifice or worse that she is being used as a repository for your sexual angst. It is that intimacy that will keep your bond both sealed and renewed.

Pax Christi,

Colin

40 Days of Fidelity

6 Mar


Fidelity

Now, I know you’re probably expecting a spiel about marital fidelity. That would be both admirable and in keeping with my modus operandi. However, today I think we need to take a moment to think deeply about fidelity in terms of our obedience to the Catholic Church. I want to offer you a challenge for Lent – and instead of asking you to give anything specific up, I’m going to ask you to do something positive that you may find unequalled in it’s therapeutic penitence.

fi·del·i·ty
fəˈdelətē/
noun
noun: fidelity

1. faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
“he sought only the strictest fidelity to justice”

I challenge you to Live the Catholic Faith in total obedience for just 40 days. For if you cannot be faithful to God – why should your spouse trust that you can be faithful to her? If you can rationalize away the doctrine of the faith – can you not also rationalize away the sin of marital infidelity? Not just sexual infidelity but emotional, financial, intellectual, and every other way.

It’s only 40 days – you’ll do best to arm yourself with a Catechism and the location of a nearby Adoration Chapel. You will need the first look up all the rules and their basis in scripture and tradition, the second to pray for the grace to joyfully submit to them when you find yourself faltering.

This means you abstain from meat on fridays or offer the alternative penance, that mass becomes more important than a soccer game. It applies to all the rules on how to treat your spouse, how you treat your work, your coworkers, your job, following the 10 commandments, and yes – even the teachings on social justice.

** Disclaimer – you should discuss this with your spouse ahead of time since an amazing benefit can be had if you work through this together, and it will take cooperation for you to fully embrace the teachings on the marital embrace and birth control. You might find this challenge does wonders for your marriage. Check out my post on the Expectations of a Catholic Husband for a primer of the changes you might need to make in that regard. My article on NFP might also provide some insight to help you accept the churches teachings on artificial contraception.

Call it a learning moment that is 40 days long. Don’t rationalize, quit arguing and struggling with your yourself via senseless attempts at human rationalization. Just submit to God’s will for your life as spelled out in the Catechism. Stop trying to be your own pope for a short time, and quiet your mind so you can hear God speaking to you in everyday things. If you falter or fall, get back up and persevere – see it through until the end. You’ll learn a great deal about yourself and your faith during the process.

By all means leave comments on this blog about accepting this challenge, how you are doing with it, and any issues you are having trouble dealing with. I will respond personally to every one I can. Living the faith for 40 days in all that you do will be an amazing experience full of trials and rewards – I hope at the end of it you find that you have gained so much more than you ever anticipated loosing, that you never look back and continue on the path.

God Bless and Keep You,

-Colin

The Dignity of Work – “Work is for man, not man for work.”

24 Jan

Dignity of Work

I saw some interviews with Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame recently. Apparently he has developed quite a deep understanding of the dignity of work. Over the years I too learned to appreciate the dignity of work and the rewards of a job well done. I think it was in the military that I had the biggest impression made on me. You see in a military unit – every single piece is important. If any one piece falls down on the job people die. It’s not a joke or a game, it literally is life and death. You might think a the drudgery of standing a firewatch is intolerable until you are the nozzleman on the firefighting team because someone else didn’t do their job and people are now dead and injured, property is destroyed, and the entire unit is exhausted all because one person did not think his job was important enough to pay attention and do it well. The Captain of a ship may be the “Quarterback” of the team, but he is also master and commander under God. You learn quickly that you work together or you die together – and make no mistake, people die in the military in peacetime as well as war. This means everybody – even the seaman recruit standing the fire watch is critical. There is no unimportant job.

Well that’s great you say, this isn’t the military and I’m not in the military. True for some of you. However, you could still take away a lesson from my experience. Treat every worker with dignity, their job is important whether you see it or not. Treat every job you do with the care, dignity, and love due it. Imagine how many would go hungry if there were no cashiers at the grocery store, or how many would starve if there were no more farmers, the sanitation disaster if there were no trash people, and so forth. We all labor together to make our society function and no person’s labor should be considered less than another person’s, in short we need to bring pride and dignity back to work, rather than glorify those who manage to avoid it or live off the labors of others without laboring themselves.

If you don’t believe me then here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the subject:

2426 The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man. 209

2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. 210Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.” 211 Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work 212 in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. 213 Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.

2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work. 214 Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

I’m especially enamored with that second to last part – “Work is for man, not man for work”.  There is a serious misunderstanding about providing for a family in America today. They need to have food, a roof over their heads, a warm and safe place to sleep, healthcare, transportation as necessary, and the ability to pursue their dreams. What they do not need is a plethora of useless things, faster cars, million dollar houses, etc… All provided by money which is earned by sacrificing yourself to your job. You see, the most important thing your family needs is YOU. I suspect a great many marriages fail because people don’t get this one simple fact, money is not a substitute for “being there”. You can only take love, memories, and regrets when you leave this life – don’t let your love die because you mistakenly thought that all that “stuff” was making up for it. Don’t miss out on memories just to get more “stuff” which will end up going to a landfill someday, or a taxman if you don’t spend it all. Most importantly, remember this life can end at any time – find a job that you love to do, that provides so that you can live without need without having to violate your family time, personal goals, or most importantly you relationship with your wife. Remember your wedding vows to Love, Honor, and Cherish did not include getting filthy rich while destroying your marriage in the process. Do something you enjoy. Not only will you do better at it, but you will enjoy it more and your work will be a joy instead of a burden to share with your beloved.

This is one I had to learn the hard way; Please avoid that path for your sake, your wife’s sake, and the sake of your children. They need YOU as a father, not the just the money you generate as only a provider. Your marital responsibilities cannot be abrogated by a check. Please think about it. Nobody has “He worked really hard and ignored his family” on their tombstone. What do you want yours to say?

Prayerfully Yours,

Colin

Indifference in Sacramental Marriage

24 Nov

silenceIndifference is a type of rot that sets into a sacramental marriage through apathy to act, ignorance of the nature of the marital bond, and a lack of empathy with your spouse. The signs are often clear to outsiders to the marriage, but the ones suffering are usually the last to realize they are infected. By the time the gravity of the damage sinks in, it is often far beyond any kind of simple repair and a little effort preemptively can pay huge dividends over the long haul for both spouses.

Well then, how could you possibly know if indifference has set into your marriage? You might examine your own conscience. When was the last time you were affectionate with your spouse in a playful or flirtatious way? Has your spouse attempted to be playful and flirtatious and had you simply brush them off (the reason is irrelevant)? Do you crave their touch, seek the emotional bond through physical contact? Have you watched carefully to see if they feel the same way? Have you brushed your spouse off or pushed them away? Rebuffed them, possibly even enough times that they lost interest and stopped trying? Is your marriage filled with uncomfortable silences?

You see, in truth it is the smallest tenders of affection which lead us to the larger ones. They sustain us and bond us in special ways. Yes the marital embrace is a dramatic bonding experience, but it quickly loses a great deal when our hearts are no longer in it. Both men and women look for those signs between couplings that there is something deeper and more there than just exhilaration, pleasure, and lust. When those signs and tenders of affection disappear – the bond weakens. As human beings we crave physical contact innately. Even people who eschew close contact in general like myself find themselves enamored with a spouse who sounds, smells, and feels right – and their touch is highly desired, even craved for the effect it has on them emotionally. Without that contact other forms of communication break down quickly – especially verbal communication.

Emotional interest and empathy in marriage are interdependent on these manifestations of our affection. Don’t ever lose that level of contact. Keep kissing, holding hands, hugging, patting each other on the back, and even playful foreplay always. For when that physical connection is broken, the emotional connection looses the glue that holds it together – and it too begins to unravel. The same is true of the emotional connections. Love is a choice, see the best in your spouse always and make that choice to love them because if you do not – nothing else you do will matter long term and you will see the bond between you disintegrate into apathy, ignorance, and a lack of empathy between you.

Think about it…

Colin

Marriage Isn’t For You

3 Nov

This is an excellent post about Marriage which highlights the most important thing everyone should understand going into it – It’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

Marriage Isn’t For You.

Great Job Seth!

Colin

Time Enough for Love…

28 Aug

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, How symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

It’s really easy to forget the simple things. It’s gotten too easy to fall into a rhythm of thinking that you can take care of it later. Love very much suffers from this mindset. How many times have we put off a touch or a kiss because we assume we can do it later. How many loving words are never exchanged, or sweet nothings whispered into one’s ear. Did you ever wonder how many hands went unheld or how many kind words went unsaid because we shied away at the moment of decision. We decided in our minds we could do it later, we got nervous about public displays of affection, about what people might say if they saw us acting that way. Sometimes we let our anger or hurt get the best of us and we even withdraw on purpose – withholding our affection to our detriment and the detriment of our spouse.

All these things are important. They hold the power to bond us and heal us. It is these small things that provide our most cherished memories and our deepest regrets. As anyone who has been close to death can tell you, approaching death brings a painful clarity. All too often, while previously you couldn’t recall hardly any missed opportunities – now you feel the weight of a tremendous number of them as they flood your mind. The worst part is that you know you are running short on time and there may not be a later. You learn that now is the only moment you have – and you resolve to make the most of it. You’ll fail of course, especially as time softens your memories of those moments you thought might be your last.

Just a few thoughts from someone whos been there. Kiss your wife very day – a gentle loving kiss, not a teen-aged tongue down your throat epitome of ineptitude and inexperience. Never ignore her when she tries to talk to you, and listen intently when she does – as it is often what is not said or how it is said that is the most important communication. Tell her you love her every day. Reach for her hand when you’re close to her, hold it gently if she takes yours when offered. Whenever you think that she looks pretty or sexy would be a good time to just blurt out what you’re honestly thinking. She doesn’t need disingenuous compliments as they will just damage her self esteem, but real and honest ones are an opportunity never to be missed. A kind word honestly spoken from you can make her hour, day, or week! Next time you make love, remember to tell her you love her afterwards and discover the joys of clinging to each other afterwards for more than 30 seconds.

My wife and I hold hands when we sleep, whether I am behind her or in front of her. Without this small comfort, I can’t sleep until sheer exhaustion causes my collapse because I keep realizing she’s not there. I’ve found that our heartbeats and breathing sync up involuntarily after just a few minutes sitting or lying down together. I even love to watch her sleep safe in my arms. With her eyes closed and a gentle smile on her lips she looks more lovely than I expect no matter how many times I have watched her. Before I slip off, I try to make it a point to make sure she has not just heard my words or felt me holding her tenderly – but knows with certainty just how deeply loved and cared for she is. Then I can be content that if tommorow never comes, there will be no regrets.

Just my thoughts…

Colin

“I can’t believe I married him/her!”

21 Aug

couple-fighting-on-couch

Recently I have had more than a few husbands and wives ask a similar question. It basically boils down to this:

“He/She was great before we got married but now that the honeymoon is over I feel like I don’t even know this man or woman sharing my life, my home, my bed. This isn’t the person I thought I was marrying, what recourse do I have?”

Or this:

“He/She isn’t the person, I married and I don’t even know them anymore – much less love them. I’m unhappy, this is not what I signed up for and I want out!”

I have some feelings many would consider unduly harsh about breaking a sacramental vow. Unless the persons discovered flaws are serious enough to warrant an annulment, I tend to believe they should let duty, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice carry them until they establish the intimacy from which love is born. People change every day, they will never be static and we have to make a decision to love them as they are every morning. I can attest that the love of a good woman will change a man in ways he cannot imagine, and the inverse is true as well. However, people seem to be making a veiled request for absolution or an excuse to break a holy vow because is inconvenient. I wish people took their vows more seriously.

That said, this article is not intended to address issues involving violence, spousal abuse, and any circumstances which constitute grounds for the annulment of the marriage.

Now to actually deal with the situation. I know this is not what you want to hear, I can almost see you putting your fingers in your ears and singing at the top of your lungs, but here it is. When you married in the Catholic church you made a gift of yourself and your service to your spouse for life before God, and they did the same for you. It’s not a you do for me, and I’ll do for you agreement. Your obligation to your spouse nor to God is abrogated because they are not keeping their vow. Every marriage has ups and downs. I recall time when my wife told me “I still love you, but I don’t like you very much right now”.

Love is a choice. What most think of as love are the heady feelings that are a just a symptom of true love and not love itself. If you don’t know you spouse anymore, make it a point to get to know them. Take the time to talk, touch, and bond anew. Make a choice to adapt and grow together. This is what you promised on your wedding day. People will grow and change; and just as your spouse has changed, so have you. Accept them as they are. Make a choice to love and serve them each morning, put their needs before your own, and do whatever is in your power to brighten their day or bring them a moment of happiness. If your spouse isn’t coming around then pray for them. Recriminations and fighting simply tear you apart, and words blurted out in anger are the leading cause of broken and wounded hearts and marriages. Act toward your spouse with the love and compassion of Christ in all things, and leave room for God to work in both your lives – if you do so, He will.

Marriage is only a rose garden if you make it so. It is a consecrated life of service to your spouse. That service can be joyful or miserable, the choice is made by your attitude, your thoughts, your actions – all things you have control over. Your service to your spouse is consecrated to God, as is theirs. Never forget that in serving your spouse you are serving God in a Holy calling, a calling harder than it is given credit for.

Choose your thoughts, words, and actions carefully to cultivate friendship, intimacy, and love (in that order) with your spouse. Always remember that your spouse is a consecrated servant and not a slave, and never forget that you are as well – neither of you are slaves to the other. Every day make a decision to serve joyfully, enjoy their companionship, abide in friendship, find comfort in intimacy, and joy in love. Just as you expect God to love you in spite of your faults, so he expects you to love your spouse in spite of theirs.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Meditations for the Assumption of Mary

15 Aug

Fulton Sheen

I’m a huge fan of Fulton Sheen. For the feast of the assumption I have taken a few selected quotes of his to recommend for meditation. The Assumption seems like an excellent time to pray for our wives, the mothers of our children, entrusted by God to be the vessels and caretakers of his ongoing work of creation. It’s also a good time to meditate and pray for ourselves that we might be worthy of them.

Here are the four quotes to meditate on:

“In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary

“Most of us love a non-self, or something extrinsic and apart from our inner life; but a mother’s love during the time she is a flesh-and-blood ciborium is not for a non-self but for one that is her very self, a perfect example of charity and love which hardly perceives a separation. Motherhood then becomes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

 

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Catholic Sexuality and the Marital Embrace

12 Aug

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is nothing in the world more contentious among Catholics themselves than what is permissible in their bedrooms by their religion. While the Catechism is fairly clear on this issue (and the Catechism represents that which must be followed and believed), many follow a variety of philosophies. These range from what I call the “Augustinian” view that sex is only for procreation and nothing more, only in one set position, and God forbid the woman actually enjoy it because an orgasm for her is a sin – all the way to the “Progressive/Rationalist” view, that what happens between consenting adults in their own bedroom is none of the Church’s or God’s business and basically anything goes.

The truth is a fair distance from each philosophy and it is clearly laid out in the Catechism (read it here for yourself  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm). No matter who you ask you will get different answers on what is acceptable and what is not (trust me, I’ve asked priests and never gotten the same answer twice). The answers are in the Catechism for those who will take a moment to read it, and greatly expounded upon in the series of sermons that make up the Theology of The Body.

The “Augustinian” view is derived primarily from the writings of St. Augustine who though a Doctor of the Church and very wise did not write with infallibility, nor do his writings and recommendations constitute Dogma, nor Canon Law. Due to Augustine’s rather debauched early life and his need to reject his own sensuality, as he wrote in “Confessions” which is still widely read today, his harsh recommendations were his prescription for combating the lust and sin so prevalent in his earlier life which of which he was extremely averse. In paragraphs 2360-2363 of the Catechism it is made clear that sex is for bonding a couple, bring joy a pleasure as a gift from each to the other, and that it must always remain chaste and open to life. There are no prohibitions on positions, or frequency – but there are prohibitions on using your partner solely for your physical gratification. In remaining open to life and chaste, marital sex must be performed with no barriers to contraception and only with the person to whom we are sacramentally bonded in marriage.

The “Progressive/Rationalist” view throws the Catechism out the window. People tell themselves that anything they want to do with their partner is OK regardless of whether it fits in the context of sacramental marriage. Masterbation, trying to avoid pregnancy by pulling out early, bringing other partners into your bed, and using your spouse for relief instead of in a mutual giving where both of you give the other a gift of themselves and the other graciously receives it – are right out.

Sex in a Catholic Marriage is a chaste expression of love, the giving of a gift of oneself to another and receiving that gift in return. We men especially, often fail here to recognize that 30 seconds of foreplay and 10 seconds of thrusting, followed by 8 hours of snoring does not constitute a gift to our wives. Such crude behaviour masquerading as marital intimacy only breeds resentment, distrust, and unhappiness in the recipient of your “gift” who you just treated like a common whore, or inflatable female facsimile. The marital embrace should always be open to life and a spiritually bonding experience for the loving couple. This does not mean that a quickie in the morning as a gift from your wife is wrong, so long as it is a gift freely given and not demanded. Such gifts are much more likely to occur if there is a whole-hearted attempt to return that gift at an appropriate time and place when you can focus yourself on returning that gift rather than your own gratification.

Exercised in the proper context and within the principles of the Catechism, the marital embrace can bring Husband and Wife both to new levels of both pleasure and intimacy – bonding them inseparably in the process. Outside the confines of the Catechism, sex becomes the greatest  weapon in damaging relationships that there is. Infidelity, using your wife as a receptacle for your lust, and making demands instead of accepting gifts do more to damage marriages than anything else I know of. Such actions destroy the trust and intimacy that is the basis for both Love and the sacramental marriage and hurt both parties physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you have concerns about a particular issue, then open the link to the Catechism above and see if it qualifies there as well as being loving gift to your spouse which is open to life. Ask yourself if you are having to apply pressure to your spouse. Even fearing your anger, disappointment, or disapproval will constitute an inability on her part to give herself freely to you. Take the time to learn each other both physically and emotionally and let your wife surprise you with her gifts. I assure you, a woman in love can be more creative than you can imagine in your wildest fantasy when she wants to please you. You should be setting an example for her to follow.

I know this post will likely produce a plethora of comments and additional questions, I welcome all of them – but ask that you keep them civil and polite.

Colin

Pregnancy, Change, Marriage

10 Aug

12-01-2007 03_53_47PMWhether expected or a surprise, pregnancy is a time of great change – for you as a husband into a father, for your wife into a mother, and for your marriage which becomes a new family. In truth this is a time of great change and transition for you as  well as for your wife. Each woman is different and each pregnancy is different. This makes setting any specific expectations impossible. I can however assure you of one thing – this too shall pass, it may pass like a kidney stone, but pass it will.

Here is some advice from someone who has been through this 4 times:

Your initial reaction is important. More important than you know! Don’t make the mistake of letting your fears and apprehensions overshadow the joy when you respond to the news of an impending birth. First impressions matter, and she needs your support at that moment more than you will understand. Allow your happiness and pride to be what shows, hold any apprehensions and fears until you can work them out. Truth is that most of those fears and apprehensions will work themselves out. I know how the rush of mixed emotions can be overpowering – but this is a place where a little care with your speech and actions can make or break the tone for the next few months, and even the whole marriage.

The only thing for sure is change, and your wife will be undergoing physiological changes beyond her control. She may happy and stable one minute and in tears and despairing the next, especially if this is her first child. She will also be undergoing physical changes as well, more than just the expanding belly – her hips will be widening to accommodate the coming birth, and her breasts may be tender in preparing to feed the coming child. During some periods her hormones may make making love more pleasurable for her than ever before, and at other times painful, or even distasteful. Enjoy the glow which accompanies pregnancy, it will make her seem more beautiful than ever. Be emotionally and physically supportive, so that she is reassured. As at all times in marriage, but especially now ,she will need your love. She alone carries a gift of God to both of you, but it is a heavy burden to bring that life to bear and you must help to carry her through it.

Most importantly, you need to focus on adapting to the new reality and embracing it joyfully. Your life is changing and God will give you the strength to adapt to your additional responsibilities. Your marriage is also changing to accommodate the new addition to your family who will consume necessarily your wife’s time and attention as well as your own. Sharing in the care of the child will not only help you bond as a father, but also help bond you to your wife even more deeply than you imagined. Set aside/arrange time for yourself and your wife to be together alone, and set aside breathing room for your wife to pursue her own interests at least a few hours a week. Even letting her have a respite to go shopping alone while you hold down the fort for a few hours can have a tremendous effect on her mental state and morale.

Your marriage will continue to change as children are both born, and move away to start their own families. Never view your family as an impediment to your dreams but rather as support in achieving them, and let them be your inspiration. Most importantly, they are the ones with whom you can share your joy and your achievements with. You will even find that those dreams change over time, changing from your dreams for yourself to dreams for your family – this is that seminal moment when one discovers what it means to me to be both husband and father.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section –

Colin

What to Expect when #5 Comes Along

9 Aug

Pregnant

First of all – this is reblogged with permission from the friend who wrote it. She is expecting number 5 and is catching the wave of popular public interest. I know this drill all too well as my wife and I have only 4 and even just having the youngest 3 in tow in the supermarket checkout often generates stupid questions and ignorant comments. Anyone with a large family will identify, and those expecting one – brace for impact.

She has managed to couch in humor something very serious – I’ll start you with this:

“Here, let me just answer all the questions and save folks the trouble of asking. I want to spare you the trouble, and also spare you the dirty looks you’ll get, plus the tone of voice, and sharp responses of which I’m capable of providing. Because like I said: It’s lame, and it does nothing to entertain me. And it’s just not funny. I’m easily amused, but the same questions just don’t do it for me. Step up your game already. Be original and humorous. Give me something I haven’t already heard.

Are you ready for it? Here goes:

1. Yes, we know what causes it. We’ve had 21 years of practice. We’re damn good at it. We like it. We’re married to each other, so we’re SUPPOSED to be doing it with each other, not someone else. It’s not wrong to actually LIKE your spouse. We’ve worked a lot of years to get where we are, and we like where we are. Don’t be jealous that you can’t get in on our party, ok? Just go get your own.

2. Yes, we have tv, cable, dvd’s, etc and we utilize them. We actually have multiples of each. Oh, ANNNND we have computers with internet access, plus smartphones. We have friends. We have access to entertainment. And we have access to each other – you know like I said up there^ in that spousal thing.

3. Yes, *I* am Catholic, but my husband is not. Our inter-faith marriage is always a work in progress, and we don’t follow any one strict tenet versus another. Ours is an interesting dance of sorts, melded together the last 21 years with a lot of compromise after a lot of trial and error. Apparently, I’m a better Catholic than I thought I was, though. And apparently, I’m the kind of Catholic girl the Southern Baptist boys like. Take that as you will.

4. Yes, we’ve heard of birth control, and condoms, and at some points, we HAVE utilized a variety of all of them. I don’t have to share this topic with anyone outside of my husband, I am not going to share the details of why, how, etc of what we do in that regard. I don’t say a word about your decision to do permanent sterilization, hormonal birth control, barrier methods, etc. Be respectful of what we do, just like I’m respectful of what you do. In short, I stay out of your uterus, you stay out of mine.

5. Yes, everything OBVIOUSLY functions just normally, nothing is broken, so please tell me what is there to fix?

6. Yes, I have my hands full. I have a head and heart full too. The van is full. The house is full. The garage is full too. Our lives are full. How is yours? Is it full of good stuff or just junk and drama and crap?

There are people who completely ache and pay lots of money to ATTEMPT to even get a tenth of what we have. I’m truly and completely blessed, while my heart breaks for those who long for the simplest part of my life, and some may never have it. Don’t tell me the obvious, because somewhere in earshot of your comment is someone else who you’re insulting in the opposite manner, by reminding them of their empty hearts and arms. And there are those who have suffered the losses of 4, 5, even 8, or 12, or more babies and pregnancies. They are so grateful to have a baby make it into this world, while forever mourning the loss of those who grew wings before seeing light of day. They happily bring as many into this world as they humanly can. It hurts and it stings and it drives the knives deeper, while you twist them. Do you still feel brilliant saying that one?

7. No, I don’t know how YOU do it with just one, or two. Seriously, I need balance in my life, and I need my own interests and hobbies. I don’t know how you can helicopter- and lawnmower-parent a completely normal child who has zero no neuro-challenges and come out the other side with your dignity and sanity intact, or theirs for that matter. I delegate stuff to the kids to do, as they become independent and capable enough to handle things. I’ve blogged about that before. Simply put, it’s my job to create independent people who can function outside of me, and handle the hiccups of life. I have my own interests because one day those buggers will fly the nest and I don’t want to be that mother-in-law that gets ranted about on the internet. I want my children and their families to feel like I respect their adulthood, and parenthood, and I will do my best to allow that by knowing my place in their world and not encroaching where I do not belong. I blessedly have a fair selection of wise in-laws who may not agree with how we do things, but they know it’s not their family or household.

8. No, I didn’t realize that we didn’t need to have any more kids. Thank you for telling me that. I didn’t realize I was still 6, and asking for a second dessert an hour before bedtime. Last I checked, we are well beyond age 18, and still married to the same person after all these years. If I have my wits about me, we have kids who are 20 and almost 19. So unless there’s some strange science or miracle, I think we are qualified to decide what my husband and I need, or don’t need. I think your words simply speak of your own insecurities, and lack of time spent with us and getting to know us sufficiently. We are raising our kids in a manner that rivals most any other way modern parents do nowadays, and we’ve got one who was trained for management at his job as soon as he graduated high school, and another about to head off to MCRD Parris Island for boot camp. The Marines don’t take *just* anybody. Our oldest daughter has life skills her peers can’t fathom, and a perspective they won’t achieve till they’re much older. Our preschooler is articulate, funny, well-adjusted and capable of handling things kids her age still have a tantrum over happening, and she’s fiercely independent. But they’re still capable of being kids. We haven’t robbed them of anything. We’ve sacrificed our own self-serving desires to give them what they need. We have indulged in some things, because we need balance and they need to see us doing our own thing, chasing our own goals and dreams, and they need to see us sacrifice for the greater good or to achieve those goals. Despite the fact that I’m running headlong toward 40, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, either.

9. Yes, they were all surprises. No, we didn’t plan or try for any of them. They were all not in our radar at the times they appeared on it, and now we can’t imagine that radar without them there. Then they brought friends to the party, who we mistreat just the same as we do our own. I have birthed and borrowed children, and never imagined this many people would call me Mom. I’m just glad I didn’t have to change all of THEIR diapers, or potty train them.

10. No, we don’t know if we’re done yet. We thought we were done with the last 5. No, we don’t know if we’ll have any more. Every time we have thought “done” and laid plans of our own, another mini human comes along and mucks up the plans. But it’s cool. We make pretty babies with brains and a sense of humor. And they think it’s pretty neat that mom & dad ride motorcycles. Well, dad does, mom’s just good at dropping them and then getting pregnant again.

One other side note about the variations of these questions: Again, when you’re asking a parent of one, or ten, about the number of kids, you’re insulting them. And the ones who only have one or two who like previously mentioned, utterly ACHE for more kids and can’t attain that are once again stabbed by your words. Why must you be so intrusive? Don’t be offended if one of us snaps back with “Why? were you looking to hire me as your surrogate, because I don’t know if I’m the one you want doing that. I might not want to give up a child to be raised by twits like you.”

11. No, I’m not easily offended. I married a Marine and had a bunch of children with him. When you have that combination, you recognize when God laughs at you (in my case, it’s almost daily since the early 1990s), and you learn to live by that other Marine motto: Semper Gumby. If you think you can offend me, you can, but it requires extreme stupidity, lack of consideration and forethought, no sense of humor, and downright intrusive and demeaning foolishness. I am not sure you want to test the mettle of this Feisty Irish Wench. Some of the things slung at me verbally by strangers, meant to offend, really didn’t do that. I’ve survived a number of things, including two teens at once – and one was a daily test of my faith and ovarian fortitude. I have reasonably thick skin, and some of you will be lucky I don’t have him with me when you open your mouth.

So, please, I absolutely encourage you to get creative when you see me or my larger-family cohorts. Ask us something we have NOT already been asked. Or for poops n giggles, maybe say something encouraging to the mom whose day is shot because of that series of wackadoodle events instead of “well you chose to have that many”. Yep, we ultimately did. Someone has to combat the stupidity of the world, and it may as well be us, because YOU are sucking at it.”

And encourage you to take a moment and read the rest here: http://feistyirishwench.blogspot.com/2013/08/originality-and-humor.html

Remember being hateful and hurtful never helped anyone, and whatsoever you do to the least of his pregnant people – that you do unto Him DOUBLE.

Many thanks to “FeistyIrishWench” for letting me reblog her post!

Colin

Expectations of A Catholic Husband

4 Aug

God holding your Marriage

I’ve been asked more than a few times what the building blocks of a successful marriage are. Recently a few readers have sent questions to me looking for advice in new marriages and prior to marriage on what their future wives will be expecting of them. Aside from some very candid discussions with your current or future spouse, there are some givens that she will expect and from which all the others are merely outgrowths.

I’ve put some real thought into this. That means both brain cells were parallel processing until they started releasing their magic blue smoke. You see, I’ve been married for over 20 years and in terms of expectations – well they seem to change if you focus on the minutiae. However, if you look at the bigger picture, the little things all fall into line, if you remember the big ones. There are a core group of things every woman expects from her husband whether she even realizes it or not.

One major disclaimer – I have no more insight into a womans mind than any other man. Women are like the trinity in that they are a mystery which cannot be understood by man and must simply be accepted. The disclaimer does however, provide me a good segway into expectation number one.

Acceptance – This one seems so obvious, but I hear neverending stories of women whose husbands/fiancee’s threaten a divorce over 5 lbs. or will only marry if she can fit into a certain size dress. Stop and pray before you act, speak, or think like this and here is why. Neither of you know what the future is going to bring, or where it will take you together. Just like with God, you must simply accept each other joyfully. In the long view – your wife is likely going to be like the weather in Louisiana. Don’t like it? Wait a bit, it will change. Your wife will change sizes, her personality will change, her interests will change, her health will change – the one thing that must never change is that you accept and love her for who she is each morning. It’s critically important to both of you that you do. If she was disfigured in a fire or accident would you love her any less? What if she was barren? Would you continue to love and keep her? Time ravages all physical things and she needs to know that regardless of what changes happen to each of you both physically and emotionally, as long as it remains compatible with sacramental marriage, that you will make  anew that decision every morning to accept and love her as she is. Always don your rose colored glasses and see the best in her and about her.

Commitment – Your wife rightfully will expect that that you are fully committed to a lifetime of joyful servitude of her and any children you are blessed with. Your commitment is to the covenant you made with God when you accepted the Sacrament of Marriage from your wife. It is expected that this commitment is unbreakable, treat her accordingly – never make mention of or threaten divorce and choose your words carefully. A man must lead a family and not subjugate them by force or fear. You must nurture your wifes commitment to you, but ensuring that she is always secure in your commitment to her and to your marriage. Never take this commitment lightly, treat your wife, always, as if her commitment must be earned  – through the commitment itself does not need to be earned, her respect and trust do. Know in advance that there will be moments in your marriage when God and commitment will carry you through, and that without commitment to your covenant before God your marriage is doomed to failure – harming both you and your spouse irreparably.

Togetherness – All the hurdles and caveats life throws at you are going to be relying on you facing the challenges together. Whatever comes it is expected that you will work as a team to solve each and every crisis. Regardless of whether that crisis is emotional, physical, financial, professional, sexual, faith based, or something else. She is counting on you to help her, and it will be important to her to also help you. Remember that whatever hurdles you face, you will face them best as a well coordinated team who can react quickly to change, anticipate the other’s moves, and most importantly acknowledge each others strengths and weakness and understand which roles each is best suited to for any given problem. This may mean adjusting roles temporarily or permanently to best face your current situation in life. Work as a team not just to achieve those things necessary to your marriage, but also necessary to each others hearts and souls. The joy of shared experience is just as powerful as the bonding forged between two who share and overcome adversity together. Rather than let adversity tear you apart, let it bind you more tightly together. Rather than allowing marriage to overshadow each of your personal dreams and goals, make it a vehicle for you both to share in achieving them.

Love – Another one that seems obvious, however it is quite critical that you understand what this one means. Love does not mean liking someone, nor is love a feeling – rather that feeling is a symptom of love but not love itself. Love is a choice we make, and we must renew that choice each day. Love endures hardship and pain, it weathers squalls and storms. You cannot love one whom you do not accept as they are.  Your wife must be your best friend, your lover, and your partner through life. You must love God above all things, and love your wife above yourself – not as yourself, but below God and above you. She cannot return to you that which is not given to be returned. While romantic love and erotic love will come and go like squalls, and even hurricanes, throughout your marriage – your true love for each other must be like the ocean, fathomless and unending.

Trust – No love and no marriage can survive without this. Trust has more aspects than verbal honesty. Your wife must know you are being emotionally honest with her at all times. She is not a mind reader or clairvoyant and for her to learn to read you accurately over time she must really understand what you really think and feel. While she too must do the same, you need to make sure she feels free to do so. This means listening without judging her when she opens her heart to you, and for her to understand you – she must do the same for you. This is the basis of intimacy, for without feeling able to truly open up to each other and embrace not just what is outside – but what is inside we can never be truly intimate. Her sense of safety and security depend on her knowing that no harm will come to her. She is entrusting this care to you, you must never betray this sacred duty or her ability to trust in you will be lost. This does not always mean you will succeed, nor that you must do it alone – but together as God intended. By both of you acting selflessly for the good of the other party you will only increase that trust, and either party acting selfishly will serve to decrease or eliminate it. This applies to threats to your marriage that are violent, physical, emotional, financial, and otherwise. In short, she must trust unconditionally that you would never harm her nor knowingly allow her to come to harm.

There are a bunch of other things, I grant you – but after much introspection I believe that these are at the core. If you can manage these the others are extensions of them and will naturally follow.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Activities Together – Ham Radio

18 Jun

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You know, I get a lot of questions from couples who seem to have nothing in common anymore. They claim that they have drifted apart and have no common hobbies or areas of interest to bind them together. While I am both a fan and proponent of ensuring that each spouse has the ability to pursue their own interests as appropriate within a sacramental marriage, I am not a fan of chasing your own interests to the exclusion of doing anything together. In fact, not too long ago following one of my wife’s childhood interests to fruition became a rather joyful journey for both of us.

Ever since she was a young woman, she had an interest in Ham radio. Her father however did not encourage her interest. Having failed to pass the licensing exam himself, even though he was an electrical engineer, he was probably sure it was far beyond the capabilities of a teenage girl. I supposed that in addition to the various knowledge required to pass the exam, the amount of money involved in getting set up for DXing (long distance communications, e.g. Worldwide) can be prodigious, even if you “homebrew” or build it yourself. VHF can be gotten into for under $50 and allows communication for over a hundred mile radius if there is a repeater handy, but getting set up for DX can cost easily over a grand using combinations of used and home brewed equipment.

I’ve done my best over the years to make sure that my wife would see our marriage as a vehicle to achieving her dreams rather than an impediment to exploring the world and experiences around her. So when she mentioned to me that she had always wanted a ham license so she could talk to the world and get QSL (contact confirmation) cards from all over the world. I thought it was a fine idea. I got us both VHF HT’s (handi-talkies) for communication on the local clubs repeater, joined the local club, and studied with her for the exam. As a former radioman in the US Navy I had a huge advantage in that most of it was more of a review for me, and because radio and electronics repair had been a job I had long ago ceased to find her level of wonder in.

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Enthusiasm is infectious and uplifting in any marriage, and a great for sharing joy, wonder, and happiness together. Whether it is in the bedroom, in daily interaction, or in hobbies it is a wonderful tool for bonding and teaching each other to find the joy in activities – even those which had gone stale. In my case radio. As she studied the for her test I began building out our home radio shack. I located and purchased a Yaesu FT-840 HF transceiver (a solid radio I could easily repair), I built a current balun (to keep dangerous RF out of our home), and obtained and hung a G5RV wire antenna, then bought an LDG Antenna Tuner and a very quiet Samlex 35 amp power supply. She could listen to the world, listen to the people talk, the shortwave bands. She was captivated, and I was pleased. We were regularly attending the club meetings and shortly after passing our technician and general exams in the same sitting together (our 11 year old passed her technician at the same time) we became full members of the club and began exploring the airwaves together. The total outlay was pretty hefty, but her smiles and laughter were worth it – and because of her I was finding a renewed love and enthusiasm for the hobby that had once been a job (and still is from time to time part of my work). We even have been able to share my love of all things naval and nautical and when she found a Museum Ships Weekend radio contest and we joyfully reached out to as many of the ships as we could, many we had toured together and a few I had been aboard in the military. We’re even looking forward to participating in a DX expedition to the South Pacific in the future, to sail on a windjammer and install radios and solar gear onto otherwise isolated atolls and islands while making as many new contacts as possible around the world!

Now that we’ve been doing this awhile I’ve learned some more interesting things that make working the radio as a team a lot more fun than one might imagine.

1. A woman’s voice breaks through pile-ups better than all the legal wattage in the world!
2. Most QSL clubs like the Century Club (www.3905ccn.com) make combos extra points towards awards and contests – meaning that more people than ever want to talk to you both when you sign in together.
3. If you want to master teamwork, try working a busy net where you are the focus of attention, 2 are better than one. If you can learn to intuit what is needed of each other in this activity then you can carry that breakthrough into other parts of your marriage.
4. It gives you something to look forward to for time together at home and can be done 24 hours a day, so no excuses for not making time.
5. There is more joy in sharing the excitement of your spouses success than there is in succeeding yourself – and there is nothing more exciting that watching your wife blossom before your eyes from her accomplishments and sharing in that joy.

All in all, I gained a new insight on ham radio and an appreciation for things I might never have realized held so much joy for me as well. Whereas I would love to say that I knew this all along, I cannot. I also gained the chance to find a new sense of wonder in both my hobby and my marriage, because its the discoveries we make along the way and not the destination alone which define us. Life is not a race, dare to eat a peach, stop to smell a rose, and take a path less traveled hand in hand – because those are the experiences that both define and bind us.

Have you ever shared a hobby with your spouse? Did it bring you closer together? Did you enjoy it more than you expected? Did it encourage you to try something you didn’t think you’d like? and if so did you discover that you liked it?

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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The Gift of Yourself

25 Mar

Someone once explained to me that love is like a tree that can live and grow forever, provided it is properly cared for. The only death available to it is through unnatural means such as neglect, thirst, starvation, or pollution. A hardy tree, it can readily survive the trials and tribulations of this life so long as it is well cared for and healthy. However, in the event it should die – it must be replanted and sprout anew from the seeds of the tree before it and will take a great deal of time to be restored to even a shadow of it’s former glory.

Marital love is much like that tree, and both partners tend to it. The tree of love requires the care of both to flourish and live. In the event that either partner neglects their responsibilities the tree will languish and die. While one partner alone may be able to carry most of the burden for some time, the tree will suffer the absence of the partner nonetheless and the partner will tire. Until in exhaustion, the basics needs for flourishing are reduced to merely surviving, and then even those needs can no longer be maintained and soon the death of the relationship occurs.

This care is a partnership, especially in that God in his wondrous creativity made Man and Woman different to better tend each to each other – and therefore their love. One must be mindful to recognize those signs of neglect such as emotional distance, aversion to physical contact, sleeping apart, anger, apathy, obliviousness, and silence. When you recognize any of those signs then your love may be lacking an ingredient necessary for it to flourish or it may be being attacked by environmental factors from outside your marriage. It then becomes your job to ascertain which, and take steps to bring things into balance whether you are the husband or the wife.

There are key nutrients that only one or the other of you can provide and it is only by working together that love can be sustained. This effort can be made harder or easier by factors outside your relationship such as work, friends, the television, the internet, the smartphone, in-laws, hobbies, and unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. Inside the marriage you have children, physical distance, emotional distance, loneliness, stress, and most of all – a need for time to just be together alone. All of these things can poison your love just as surely as chopping it down if you let them. Remember what is important, your vow to your spouse supersedes any obligations save those to God himself. For those who are horrified at this thought, remember that to unless your relationship is healthy – your ability to care for any children born of your marriage is seriously impaired. If you allow your children to come between you and your spouse and the marriage is damaged – they suffer the harm with both of you. The same applies to your job, your friends, your phone, your computer, your hobbies, or any other impediment to you being able to fulfill your obligations to your spouse be they physical, spiritual, or emotional.

Speaking of spiritual, I’ve often heard people suggest a couple should pray together. About this I have two things to say. The first is that they are absolutely right, and I deeply regret not taking this one aspect of our development together more seriously earlier, or more often. The second being that it does not need to be done in any specific form or manner – meaning that if she says a rosary before bed while I pray in silent meditation while we touch in some manner, I have discovered it can be a very profound spiritual experience. It can be as simple as saying your bedtime prayer invoking the intercession of your guardian angel to watch over you while you sleep, or reciting the Our Father while holding hands or each other. The adventurous may take a queue and recite Tobias’s prayer from Tobit (8:5-8:8). I’ll even quote from the King James to confound all my protestant friends who can’t find it in their bibles, as it was removed later.

8:5 Then began Tobias to say, Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers, and blessed is thy holy and glorious name for ever; let the heavens bless thee, and all thy creatures.

8:6 Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for an helper and stay: of them came mankind: thou hast said, It is not good that man should be alone; let us make unto him an aid like unto himself.

8:7 And now, O Lord, I take not this my sister for lust but uprightly: therefore mercifully ordain that we may become aged together.

8:8 And she said with him, Amen.

Tobit very much influenced my impressions of marriage when I was young and I most remembered the passage in Tobit (6:17) which convinced me that people are sometimes appointed for each other by God and that I had but to have the courage to listen and act when the spirit told me I had found the one appointed to me.

“…fear not, for she is appointed unto thee from the beginning; and thou shalt preserve her, and she shall go with thee. Moreover I suppose that she shall bear thee children. Now when Tobias had heard these things, he loved her, and his heart was effectually joined to her.”

There is a third thing, one I’m not proud of or eager to say. I myself have made this mistake of ignoring this aspect of my own relationship far longer then I should have. Praying together is nothing more then coming together in communion with God. Don’t let your pride or self-consciousness prevent you from benefitting from this activity at least on occasion – if you can’t set those things aside and be yourself when you’re with your spouse and worry about the potential embarrassment of being spiritually naked, then you have enough to work on to keep you busy for some time. I have made that mistake, and I can assure you that when you die the last thing you want to do is regret all of those things you did not do, especially those that you knew you should have done. For it is not the things we did that torture us the most once we leave this life, but those we failed to do.

You may find the prayer from Tobias’ wedding night said quietly to be just the thing to remind you that marriage is a sacred sacrament ordained by God, by which we are also quell the lust enough to allow the spiritual and emotional bonds the room and opportunity they need to bloom and bear fruit. There is a deeply spiritual and emotional connection forged through marital intimacy where lust is extinguished and from its ashes an effective joining of two persons in body and spirit occurs – and it is in this joining that we feel truly fulfilled. All too often people flit like insects from partner to partner – like a roach from crumb to crumb, never satisfied, never full, always searching, ever hungry. Be mindful of Tobias’ prayer, cling to your spouse and take each other not only of desire satisfy a base instinct – but specifically join yourselves to renew and feed that bond, that it should grow and live forever, never suffering death. Not for either to abuse or unnecessarily deny the other, but to come together in a holy sacrament and renew the spiritual and emotional ties that bind your hearts together. It is through that binding love that you will also gain a glimmer of the awe and majesty of God’s love as well.

That said, lets be real too. Until our base appetites are satisfied we really don’t have a realistic hope of experiencing something which will be spiritually moving for more than about 30 seconds – and what we experience then will be a transient illusion, fading almost as quickly as it came. However, once the lust has passed there remains a longing to stay close and protect. An instinct that presents itself with those we love and not with those we use, takes over. It is in that closeness afterwards that we can truly bond physically and emotionally in a meaningful and lasting way.

To truly feel this, one cannot be filled with lust, or hate or rage; nor can one be selfish. It must be freely given from oneself without coercion or reservation, and received in the same manner by both parties. It is in those rare moments when we come together in true intimacy and a desire to be together with our love for each other that our love can blossom and root itself more deeply into our hearts. For us men, we suffer the most from biological needs and urges which can cloud or prevent this experience. However, we are in general not incapable of functioning after the initial physical need is satiated. Take one such moment and use it to give your wife the gift of true intimacy – where you join with her out of love and a deep longing for your physically separated hearts to be combined into a single whole as God has designed. Not because you are driven by hormones or biological imperatives, but because it is in the giving of ourselves altruistically when we give the most meaningfully of ourselves and receive the most unexpected and amazing gifts in return.

One can only hope that by experiencing this indescribable feeling for yourself and sharing you experience with others that it will spread throughout the country and then the world, changing totally the way we look at our wives, love, and marriage forever – and for the better.

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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