Tag Archives: father’s day

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

A Sonnet for Father’s Day…

15 Jun

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I’d have attempted a sonnet of my own, but I figured that most of the people reading would not be doing so while comfortably strapped into a “Vogon Poetry Appreciation Chair”. As unpopular as I know it to be these days, I still love Shakespeare. He may not be “cool” with people today, and though many can claim to have seen a bad movie adaption or re-imagining of one of his plays (with the notable exception of Mel Gibson’s Hamlet), few can claim to have actually read his work. There is much about life, love, and the roles we all play throughout our lives in his writings. Much of it is also both touching and true, so this one I decided to share…

“Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest,
Now is the time that face should form another,
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb,
Of his self-love to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime,
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.”

– William Shakespeare

On this Fathers Day remember that your children are your monument to posterity. It is through them that you pass down your values, your thoughts, the memories you made, and of course that pesky genetic code. In a very real way they are your corporeal immortality. For even though you die, part of you continues to live on and contributes to society in a very real way — unless you are one of those whom the poem is about. If that is the case, I would pray that it touches your heart that you are missing out one one of the most meaningful aspects of existence next to God and Love. Remember there is still time to change that situation before next Father’s Day.

For in the end, what are we but the love of two people, tied together with a cord of conjoined DNA, and clothed in the sum of both of their hopes and dreams…

Happy Father’s Day to All,

cc70458@gmail.com

* Feel free to comment and let me know what you think about this or any post, or if you just want me to point you to some free copies of Shakespeare’s collected works so you can start a literary journey from your pad or phone.

Father’s Day – A lesson Learned Far Too Late

10 Jun

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Sometimes you learn something about yourself and the meaning of life, just about the time when it’s usefulness to you is such that if you had been smart enough to figure it out from the start so many things could have been better.

Yesterday I learned something about Father’s Day. You see, I’m about as dense as a rock sometimes and thanks to a hectic work schedule days and weeks often flow together as I move from deadline to deadline. I’m sure a few of you will understand this in todays world. This means that I often lose track of holidays and such, but this past weekend due to some dramatic retooling of children’s activities my wife was equally harried. She lost track and thought Sunday was Father’s Day – and my brain, being like a colander when it comes to dates, didn’t recognize the difference. 

In our defense, the stores seem to start earlier and earlier with their ads and sales. It didn’t take me but a moment to realize that the children didn’t know the exact date either and that Debra could not take them shopping in time – nor dig out the arts and crafts they had so carefully and diligently crafted and painted for me before school had let out for the summer. I wondered if they realized that I had kept every present or keepsake over the years, and with four children I have quite a collection.  The ones not framed and hung in the hall are on the fridge or tucked away in an artists envelope bulging with a plethora of various media sitting on top of my credenza.

I poured over some of the many things that had accrued over the years – turkey’s made of handprints, first pictures, cubist family portraits, and sculptures that would make Ida Kohlmeyer swoon.

These mementos are wonderful, they really are. However, I cannot take them with me when I depart this life. Since I know this firsthand, I realized that I was missing the point of Father’s Day – and if not the point then we could say the real opportunity. It’s not a day so much for handcrafted gifts and dinner out somewhere you usually would not go. Instead, it is a day for making happy memories with your children. With that in mind I went to bed Saturday night, planning to do just that in the morning.

The kids were up early and very excited – but we had a rain interruption we needed to work around. A quick look at the weather forecast said if we hit City Park just between 130pm and 430pm we could nail the sunny patch that afternoon and do so to reduced crowds. Debra packed some snacks and drinks in the cooler and we took off at the appointed time. The children were unusually good because of course they thought it was Father’s Day. Making for a pleasant drive into the city.

We arrived at the park and proceeded to have fun together as a family. I made extra sure to spend one-on-one time doing activities and rides with each of the children. Lots of smiles and laughter for the day, and then about 430 right on queue the rain started and we all ran for the car, piled in, and headed off for a decadent snack at a french bakery (and to find a bathroom to change for Holy Mass).

By the time we got to Mass I was exhausted and sore, I had really overdone it. The children were exhausted too. The mass was beautiful though, and during the consecration I felt a warm glow descend on me with the feeling that next time I stand in judgement – this day would be one of my finest hours and my fondest memories. The best part of that feeling was knowing that while I would loose the keepsakes – the laughter and happy memories created that day were not just mine to keep – but they were also a gift to my children and my wife who seemed to positively glow with pride just watching things unfold.

I learned, and re-learned, a few things that day. First and foremost an appreciation for my mortality and the fact that we cannot count on tomorrows to do things with children, they grow up so quickly that even if we don’t die, their childhood is terminal and though the children will survive – they are only children for a short period of time. The things you possess that you can carry into the next life are love, memories, and regrets. Love your spouse and children as best you are able regardless of how far you fall from from the marks you set for yourself. Make happy memories with those you love whenever you can, they are a gift that pays itself forward and when you bring joy to others lives it not only brightens your life too, but all of God’s creation. As for regrets, choose your actions carefully as you will make enough of these as a consequence of being human and they too are things you will have to live with forever in a very literal sense. As a father, I have often found myself so tied up in providing food, shelter, and other necessities that I failed to take enough time out to provide the joy and attention I really wanted to. I’ve had enough obstacles to doing so in my life outside of my control that I could try to use that as an excuse and probably get away with it, but all that really means is that with fewer opportunities – a missed one counts for even more.

I hope that one day my children will find this post, and know that no matter what else they were loved more dearly than life itself – my sole concern was always for my family. I every effort to make to ensure that they could have a mother at home through their childhood, enough to eat, a safe neighborhood to live in, and a comfortable home. I hope that they remember the joyful times we shared together, the lessons learned the hard way and passed on to them, and most importantly that I was just an imperfect man. A man who realized later than he should have that he was the one missing out when their mother took them to the zoo or the park without him – whatever the reason was. Life hands out enough circumstances when you simply cannot be present to share a simple joy, make an effort to do so that will ensure that you never regret your actions – just the circumstances. Doing so will be its own reward in this life and the next, provide a precious gift to your family, and make you a better Catholic husband.

PS: I hope my daughters’ future husbands and my son read my entire blog – in the hopes that they can use what they find to improve their marriages and in doing so pay it forward to their children as well. There is no need for these lessons to be re-learned the hard way endlessly through the generations that follow.

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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