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Gratitude in marriage

When we had a toddler and a baby, we went through a major rough patch – it was hard to see how many blessings God had given us because we were both so focused on the negative things in life. I was overwhelmed staying at home with two littles all day, Logan was frustrated with his job, we were both frustrated with our financial situation, and well, let’s face it…our marriage was struggling big time. All I could focus on was how Logan wouldn’t help me when I was clearly overwhelmed (and tired…oh so tired) and all Logan could focus on was my lack of encouragement and my crazy talk. We were both really disillusioned.

Honestly, not much has changed since then – we’ve added another kid to the mix, but I’m still overwhelmed (most days), Logan is still frustrated with his job (most days), and we’re both frustrated with our financial situation (most days).

But our marriage? It’s so much better. And I think a big part of that is because we’ve started “counting our blessings” together on a regular basis, so to speak. (I know that sounds totally cliche, but it really, really helps.)

The crazy thing is that in many ways, life is harder now than it was back then. But thankfully God has given us the grace and tools to work through it. If there was one thing I could tell myself a few years ago when I was so focused on all the negative things in my marriage, it would be this: write down (or think about) at least one thing you’re grateful for every single day.

We may not have the ideal situation regarding Logan’s job and our finances, but we are able to pay the bills and we own a house we love.

We may not be going on fancy vacations every year, but we are still able to save a little for fun things and simple trips.

We may be completely overwhelmed with our kids sometimes, but we know the pain of infertility and loss is a hard and lonely cross.

We may still have our disagreements and communication problems, but we have come a long way in appreciating each other’s differences and growing in understanding one another.

We may not have the perfect marriage, but we know our marriage is sanctifying us…and that’s the whole point – for us to grow closer to God.

Earlier this summer, we dealt with a number of health issues, house repairs, and other ridiculous occurrences in a span of one month – all of which are not unusual in themselves, but the frequency and quantity in which they occurred was very unusual. It was overwhelming and stressful, to say the least.

But even amidst all of the craziness, we had a number of good things happen as well. June was probably the most stressful month we had in a long time – but it also produced the most fun month we had in awhile. (I know that sounds impossible. But it’s true!)

It never ceases to amaze us how God can make his presence known even in the most stressful times. For each stressor, there’s usually a consolation, from a generous friend to a special family moment. Often times one of us has to remind the other of all the good things happening among all the bad things, but thinking about our blessings together has been a great source of comfort.

I know there are times where it’s really hard to think about your blessings, especially when you’re not feeling especially fond about your marriage. When everything seems to be going wrong and you don’t know what the heck God is doing through all of it. When you see everyone’s “good moments” on social media and none of their bad ones. When you think everyone else’s marriage is perfect and yours is not. When you feel like life just hasn’t turned out the way you expected.

But we’ve seen how coming together to thank God for all He has given us, especially in our marriage, has brought us closer together. Every day we thank God together for all of his blessings, and we make sure to remind each other – especially when we’re going through a rough time – that there is always something to be thankful for, even when it doesn’t always feel that way.

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“A Month for Your Marriage” Challenge

One thing I’ve realized over the years we’ve been married is that we constantly need to put effort into our marriage. It’s way too easy to let our relationship with our spouse slide to the back-burner without even realizing it!

That’s partly why we’ve been posting weekly marriage challenges on Instagram and Facebook over the last several months (#marriagemondaychallenge). It’s a reminder every single week that we need to be intentional about our marriage.

Now you can be intentional for an entire month with our challenge cards! Dedicate a month to your marriage by completing a challenge every day for 31 days. Some are simple, some require a little more effort, but every single one is meant to bring you and your spouse closer together.

It really is the little things that foster growth in a relationship, and that’s never more true than in a marriage.

Are you ready to take “A Month for Your Marriage” challenge? Click here to buy your challenge cards! Just print, cut, and put in a basket or box to pick one every day for a month. Use the hashtag #marriagechallengecards to share on Instagram and Facebook. We’d love to see them in action!

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10 reasons you should go on a marriage retreat

When most people hear about a marriage retreat, they think that it’s just for couples who are struggling. While there certainly are retreats for strained marriages (Retrouvaille, anyone?), there are also some retreats for married couples who want to grow closer together by spending a weekend away, focusing on God and their marriage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newlywed or have been married for 40 years – any couple can benefit from a marriage retreat!

We’ve been on 3 marriage retreats in 9 years of marriage…and we didn’t go on the first one until almost 5 years in. Needless to say, it was amazing and just what we needed, so we’ve made it a priority to make it a regular occurence. We HIGHLY recommend every married couple to go on a marriage retreat and to make it happen every single year, if possible (hard when you keep having babies, I know…which is why we’ve done it every 2 years).

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On our second retreat in 2016, with our youngest baby in utero

Here are 10 reasons why I think you should go on a marriage retreat (but honestly, there are even more!):

  1. God first, marriage second, then everything else. A marriage retreat helps you do exactly that!
  2. No cooking or cleaning for a weekend. (Enough said.)
  3. A retreat helps you to move forward in your marriage, especially if your marriage is in a rut. Consider it a jump-start!
  4. To know you’re not alone. Every marriage has their struggles and crosses, so hearing the stories of other couples is reassuring and comforting.
  5. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk about important topics with your spouse uninterrupted.
  6. To find encouragement and community from other couples. As a young couple, it’s so inspiring to see couples 40 years ahead of us! And the older couples are encouraged by seeing young couples putting effort into their marriage.
  7. To learn more about your spouse. There’s no better time to learn about your spouse! A couple’s vacation is fun (and also necessary at times), but the focus is still on vacation….not your marriage.
  8. To embrace the Sacraments together as a married couple.
  9. To be reminded that the Sacrament of Matrimony is a gift, and one we should make a priority.
  10. Great food! (Logan had to add that one, ha)

God wants to be an integral part in your marriage. And he should be! A marriage retreat fosters that in more ways that I can explain here.

Have you ever been on a marriage retreat? If so, what reasons would you add to the list?

In case you missed it, we vlogged during our last retreat! Check out the video:

Vulnerability in marriage

Over the last few months, I’ve been privileged to hear people’s stories, questions, and struggles in their marriage. And I’ve noticed something – there’s a common denominator in all of the hard stuff of marriage.

Communication.

I know it sounds so simple – learn to communicate! I’m certainly not suggesting that learning to communicate better will make your marriage perfect. Our marriage certainly isn’t and we’ve actually come a loooong way in terms of communication.

What am I saying is that it is definitely worth the effort to improve communication with your spouse, and that it’s going to take a lot more than just reading books and/or seeking counseling (but both are good things that I definitely recommend!).

It’s going to take being vulnerable with each other.

You can read allll the of the marriage books in the world and meet with a counselor together every single week, but if you’re not being vulnerable with each other? Sharing everything with each other? You’re going to have a hard time.

I’m the biggest introvert of all introverts…which means I don’t like to talk. I live in my head a lot. I’d rather journal about my feelings than talk about them. My natural instinct is to just keep everything to myself and not share them with my spouse.

Our marriage really struggled for years because of that.

How was my husband supposed to know I was struggling with everything on my plate – kids, housework, volunteer responsibilities, etc – if I didn’t share that with him? How was my husband supposed to know I felt disrespected in certain relationships if I didn’t tell him? Why did I expect my husband to read my mind and know what I was thinking at every moment?

He didn’t know. He had no way to know. Because I didn’t tell him. I kept it to myself, or thought that it was silly to share some of those things with him. The mind of an introvert can be crazy, after all. But it goes both ways…

How was I supposed to know my husband felt like he wasn’t providing enough for our family? How was I supposed to know my husband felt stuck when it came to his job situation if he didn’t tell me?

I didn’t know. I had no way to know. Because he didn’t tell me. He thought I was disappointed in him or that I’d assume he was unhappy with our current situation.

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Keeping things to yourself tends to lead to bitterness and resentment and a heck of a lot of misunderstanding. Which leads to your spouse withdrawing. With leads to two very unhappy people.

But if you’re sharing everything with each other? Your good moments, your struggles, and everything in between? That’s the kind of marriage we wanted. That’s the kind of marriage we’ve started to have.

If you’re starting to feel resentful about the fact that your spouse doesn’t pull his/her weight around the house, tell them that! (Gently, please.)

If you need encouragement from your spouse to apply for a new job, start a business, or [insert scenario here], tell them that!

If your needs aren’t being met in the bedroom, tell your spouse that! (Oh, but please, please first tell your spouse how wonderful they are and how much you love being intimate with him/her. Build up your spouse first, then say: “I would like to work on XYZ though. Can we talk about that?”)

You can’t complain about not getting something if you haven’t asked for it. And you can’t expect your spouse to read your mind.

On the flip side, if one spouse is being vulnerable and opening up about something, the other spouse needs to listen. No belittling, no mocking, none of that. The listening spouse needs to be vulnerable too by offering unconditional love and support! It can be hard, especially if a big issue is brought up, and especially if it might be painful to hear. But you can’t grow in your marriage without addressing the hard stuff. (Marriage requires a heck of a lot of humility, too.)

Sometimes I wonder now if we share too much. Did he really need to know during the World Cup that I thought Russia’s goalie was extremely handsome? Did he really need to share his, um, trip to the bathroom in extreme detail?

Perhaps that’s going to be different in everyone’s marriage. But for us, sharing absolutely everything has been a game-changer. We know what each other is thinking now because we actually say it. We know how to support each other. We know that being vulnerable with each other is exactly why we’ve grown in intimacy and in love for each other.

We know that vulnerability in our marriage is how we will get each other to Heaven.

 

I hate to say this but feel it is necessary: if you suspect your spouse is emotionally abusive, this post is not for you. Please seek the help of a counselor or spiritual director!

The biggest misconception of Natural Family Planning

A friend sent me an Instagram story the other day where someone was answering the question: “What is your opinion on NFP?”

The person’s answer was basically saying: NFP is often used as Catholic contraception and that you shouldn’t have sex if you don’t want kids.

I have thoughts.

Let me just first admit that I used to be that person who thought there was very, very rarely a reason to avoid pregnancy. When we first got married, we were very open to pregnancy, despite Logan making barely any money and me being temporarily unemployed. So I just figured that everyone else didn’t have any serious reasons to avoid either! (I know, I know.)

Thankfully, I’ve gotten way more perspective in the last 9 years and am truly grateful that the Catholic Church, in all Her wisdom and glory, gave us the gift of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Check out the Catechism, paragraphs 2368-2370. (It’s online here if you don’t have a copy, but I highly recommend getting one!) The main line, to assure that the Church does indeed say we can use NFP is from paragraph 2370: “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.”

Sometimes the best thing for you, your spouse, and your children (and/or future children) is to wait a bit before you have a baby. And I won’t even go into the possible reasons, because the Church does not give a list of them for a reason. NFP is designed to make us discern for ourselves.

I’m so thankful we have an option other than birth control during those times, because when my husband and I give ourselves to each other, we want to give ourselves fully, fertility and all – as terrifying as it can be sometimes! Withholding the gift of fertility from each other – using birth control – is not conducive to a holy marriage. You cannot have a self-sacrificial love for your spouse when you are giving them everything except your fertility.

Please know I am in no way judging anyone who uses birth control. I’m simply telling you that there is a better way! God intended for every marital act to be open to life. NFP enables us to do just that! (I could go on about the effects that using birth control has on a marriage but that could be another post in itself and much more qualified people have written extensively on the subject.)

Now for my thoughts regarding NFP being a “Catholic contraceptive.”

NFP is not contraception. It’s not even close. Google’s definition of contraceptive is: “a device or drug serving to prevent pregnancy.” With contraception, you are having sex and withholding your fertility, using a device or drug (or the withdrawal method, which is not effective by the way).

With NFP, you are not using a device or drug. You don’t need those because you are not having sex. You are abstaining on fertile days because you have prayerfully discerned with your spouse that this particular month is not a good month to conceive a baby.

Some couples decide to not use NFP at all. God bless them. I truly wish we were one of them, but we are not. I think God knew I needed a bigger perspective and more humility. I just cringe thinking of my former judgmental self, because now I know the reasons for postponing a pregnancy are numerous, and nobody will completely understand those reasons except for the couple themselves.

What people who have never used NFP don’t realize is that NFP is hard. Sometimes you just really want to renew your wedding vows and be close to your spouse but life circumstances tell you that you need to wait. And the thing about NFP is that you’re having to abstain during the time that your body is telling you it wants to make a baby.

In a world that tells us we should have all the sex we want, whenever we want? ABSTAINING IS HARD. But it is still so much better than the alternative.

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Could a couple be selfish in their reasons for postponing a pregnancy? Perhaps. We are human, after all.

But the thing about NFP is that it makes you communicate and pray with your spouse about whether or not we have good reasons for abstaining. You’re not going to want to abstain unless you have serious reasons to do so!

In our experience, our “plan” ends up changing because our hearts change. Each month, we become more and more open to another pregnancy. Like I said, abstaining is hard, and NFP makes sure we’re doing it for the right reasons. We eventually find ourselves in a place where we are not sure whether our reasons for postponing a pregnancy are still valid. So we give it to God, as cliche as it sounds.

NFP is actually a gift, and one we should use wisely. Like the Catechism says, “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood” (CCC 2368). Nobody can discern that other than you and your spouse. It does require a lot of prayer and communication, and if you’re not doing that on a regular basis, you’re missing the point.

And perhaps that’s what the person on Instagram was referring to, but I still have to say…NFP is not a contraceptive. Each marital act is still open to life, which is what God intends.

Do read those paragraphs in the Catechism (2386-2370) to know why God and His Church has given us this gift. God has such a beautiful plan for and every one of our marriages, and NFP plays a big part in that for many of us.

A tale of 4 vacuums

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We’ve had a rough go of it with vacuum cleaners lately. A shop vac and two indoor vacuums. They’ve all been around for years, though, so when I opened our newest indoor vacuum, I was optimistic. There was no way this thing would die on me! I put it together and it worked really well. Whew.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Before I knew it, though, the vacuum had caught the loose strand from the corner of the living room rug. In a matter of 3 seconds, the vacuum sucked up over 30 feet of thread from the rug and shut off.

Say what?

I was really tempted to just throw out the darn thing and give up on vacuuming altogether (melodramatic much, I know). But I took a deep breath, found a screwdriver, took apart the new vacuum, and cut out all of the rug pieces. It took longer than I would have liked, and I was really tempted to just wait until Logan was home so he could do it. But I kept with it and finally was able to turn on the vacuum. Much to my relief, it started working beautifully again.

How often does the same thing happen in our marriage? We think things are working well, then suddenly we hit a snag – a disagreement about an issue, a betrayal – and we don’t know what to do. Why fix yet another vacuum cleaner when this is already the 4th one in less than a month that has crapped out on us? (Yes, people, four. Talk about ridiculousness.)

But there is bound to be conflict in a marriage. We’re humans! And the only way to get past it is to resolve it, no matter how difficult it may be. We need to resist the temptation to just throw away the vacuum cleaner or sweep an issue under the rug. (Pun intended.)

Our marriage is thriving now because we’ve both taken honest looks at ourselves, realized what we each need to work on, and how we can support each other in doing so. And it’s still very much a work in progress.

Sometimes we’ve had to cut loose strings that were keeping us from connecting fully – just like I had to do to the vacuum to get it to work again. Sometimes the process has been painstakingly slow and brutal. We’ve had to be patient with ourselves and each other.

But it pays off. Fix the vacuum – er, address the problem in your marriage. Do the work you need to do to make your marriage thrive. It won’t always be easy, you’ll probably hit snags along the way (remember, the enemy wants your marriage to fail!), but God gives us the grace we need to grow closer to Him and to our spouse.

I know this is a lot easier said than done. If you’re needing a little help or guidance in how to communicate better with your spouse, I recommend taking a look at these resources:

  • The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art and Laraine Bennett – our temperaments play a huge part in how we react or handle certain situations, and this book provides helpful communication techniques for each temperament
  • Praying for (and With) Your Spouse: The Way to Deeper Love by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak – prayer is a vital component of marriage and resolving conflict, and the Popcaks provide so much encouragement, inspiration, and helpful tips when it comes to praying both for and with your spouse
  • How to handle everyday conflict in your marriage at Aleteia – this short blog post provides some good tips/thoughts
  • The Bible – I’m always amazed at how many times I’m reading Scripture and come across the perfect verse that is an answer to prayer. There is so much wisdom in the Bible – don’t forget to read it often!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)

 

9 years of marriage

We’re celebrating 9 years of marriage today! It’s been a crazy but beautiful ride.

The longer we’re married, the more I realize that there is no way to adequately prepare for marriage. You just have to learn as you live it!

I read a lot. So before we were married, I read all kinds of books on marriage and sex and love. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. Honestly, I did. I knew marriage would have its ups and downs but I really thought we would be fine! (And we are fine, but whew, it took awhile!)

We even did plenty of marriage prep stuff – met with our priest a few times, took the FOCCUS inventory, and met with a mentor couple several times. Our priest had zero concerns, our inventory results showed zero concerns, and our lovely mentor couple actually told us that we would be teaching marriage prep one day.

It’s all so funny now, really. Looking back, it really did seem like we knew what we were getting into. But man, life really hit us – communication problems, pregnancy loss, infertility, sex problems, high-risk pregnancy, finances, difficult family relationships, you name it. How the heck were we supposed to be prepared for all of THAT?

I was recently thinking about the vows we said at our wedding and couldn’t help but laugh, because we could have added a few things to it.

I, Jen, take you, Logan, to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

I promise to be faithful to you even though a vocation to the religious life looks pretty appealing sometimes.

To love you and honor you when our bank account is pitifully low because everything in our house is breaking.

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I, Logan, take you, Jen, to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

I promise to be faithful to you even when we can’t have sex during your 9-month pregnancy because of your stupid cervix.

To love you and to honor you even when one of our kids is puking at midnight.

The ironic thing, though, is that I think Logan and I love each other more because of everything we’ve gone through.

Those years of desperately wanting a baby made me appreciate how great of a dad Logan is now.

Those long pregnancies of abstinence showed me that Logan loves me enough to wait for me. (And yes, guys, totally possible to abstain! Hard, definitely, but possible.)

Those nights of cleaning up puke together really cemented in my mind the fact that Logan and I make a pretty awesome team.

So yeah, marriage hasn’t been what we expected it to be. It’s been a heck of a lot harder, but now we know that anything worth doing is going to be hard. And we’ve been able to look back on our 9 years of marriage thus far and see the fruit from all of those trials.

God can use anything, redeem anything, and He wants to do incredible things in your marriage.

“There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action.” -Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Unexpected loss

Logan and I were ready to have a baby as soon as we were married. But since my fertility was, well, not normal, it seemed like we would have problems getting pregnant.

To our surprise, we conceived only two months after our wedding. We were thrilled! We were married in June, found out we were pregnant in August, and I started a new job in September that I loved. Life was good. We weren’t making a lot of money, but we were so, so happy.

Even though I struggled a lot with morning sickness (that lasted all day), I was so thankful for the life inside of me. Logan was also so adorable when it came to me and my pregnant self – he looked at me with so much love. He kept telling me how he appreciated me carrying our child, he would kiss my belly after he kissed me on the lips, and he would tell my belly “I love you” after he told me. Despite his excitement, though, Logan couldn’t help worrying about something happening to our baby.

But according to my doctor, the pregnancy was going along swimmingly. A couple weeks into the second trimester, I finally started feeling better. When I was 19 weeks pregnant, we found out our baby was a boy! We decided to name him Levi Anthony and were even more excited to meet him a few months later. Christmas came and it was the best holiday we had celebrated as a couple thus far, and we couldn’t wait until the following Christmas when we would have a baby in our arms.

Just four days after Christmas, though, we ended up in the hospital. After several terrible hours of cramping, contractions, and bleeding, I delivered our son. He didn’t have a heartbeat. There are no words to explain the pain we felt that day and the months (and years) that followed.

At the time, Logan and I hadn’t even been married for seven months yet. We knew marriage would have its ups and downs, but still, we were completely blindsided by the loss of our son. It didn’t help that people kept telling us the statistics for divorce for couples who lost a child. Hadn’t we lost enough already? Was our marriage really doomed too?

Because Logan and I have very different personalities – as well as the fact that I was the one who carried Levi in my womb and Logan did not – we grieved very differently. I cried a lot and felt like I would never be happy again. Logan seemed to be handling it much better than me, so I didn’t tell him everything that was going on inside me.

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Holding our precious baby. It still kills me to look at this picture because Logan obviously did a better job at smiling than me…but I’m very thankful to have this. Our first family picture ❤️

I did journal about all of my struggles, though. Because I couldn’t bring myself to actually say those things out loud, Logan ended up just reading what I wrote and we talked after that.

That’s when I really started to see the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage – Logan made sure I knew that I was not going through this loss alone. I felt like I was falling further and further away from God, so Logan made it his goal to not let that happen. After all, our main goal of marriage is to get each other to Heaven. Sometimes it feels so impossible, but maybe that’s part of why we go through certain trials – to remind us to help each other.

It was two weeks after we lost Levi that we finally talked about everything that happened. Most trials can cause a couple to grow further apart or closer together, and I can totally see how the former happens. It almost happened to us.

But thankfully we were given the grace to share our pain with each other. Logan told me that day that he wished he could have gone through everything with me at the hospital (since poor guy felt so helpless just watching me in pain all night, and they actually ended up not letting him in the delivery room), but I told him, “I wouldn’t have wanted you to.” Because really, my hospital experience is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone – especially not my husband.

Even though losing our son was harder than I ever would have imagined, I couldn’t help but feel so blessed to have Logan as my other half. I couldn’t imagine going through that tragic time without him. It was only after pouring my heart out to him – and realized he wasn’t going anywhere – that I finally felt I could start on the path towards healing.

The honeymoon is over

Two days after our wedding, Logan and I were in Florida to spend the rest of the week there for our honeymoon. The resort we were staying at had an extra key, and there were instructions to put it in a key pad outside – just in case we needed it. It was a smart move on the owner’s part, since it would lessen the likelihood of him needing to drive over and let people in if they got locked out.

I reminded Logan to put the spare key outside as instructed, and since he tends to blow things off, he ignored me, acting like we wouldn’t need an extra key.

Later that day, we walked outside to open a bottle of champagne. It was our first time opening a bottle and we wanted to play it safe. Logan started to close the door, but I told him not to close it all the way (you know, in case it locked somehow). But like I said before, Logan blew it off and let the door close all the way.

It didn’t take him long to realize we were locked out since he had left his key on the kitchen table – along with the spare key, which should have been in the key pad outside.

To say I was upset with Logan was a major understatement. He should have listened to me! He should have just put the dang key in the pad!

Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t just put the spare key in the key pad myself, but it was still really annoying how Logan ignored me. Twice, at that. On our second full day or marriage! I hated that we needed to call the owner to come let us back into our resort, when the spare key would have done it for us.

I took a walk to refrain from saying mean things, and I sat down on some steps (far away from Logan) for a little while. Suddenly I was bombarded by all of these bad thoughts – I doubted our marriage, I doubted my call to the married life, and I doubted whether or not we were cut out for a life together. The devil was taking the perfect opportunity to throw so many evil thoughts in my head. It was crazy.

Thankfully, I realized what was happening, so I prayed for the grace to be a good wife and to keep God at the center of our life together. I ended with the prayer to St. Michael, and God really did help me overcome those evil thoughts.

I wish I had known back then that that was just the first of many, many times that I would question our marriage and my vocation. Sure, I knew marriage was going to have its hard moments, but I felt completely blindsided at just how hard it was at times.

For some reason, people don’t warn newlyweds that there might come a time where you regret getting married. That sometimes you will look at your beloved spouse and wonder what the heck happened to him since you said those blissful vows. I certainly don’t blame people for avoiding all of that when giving their well wishes and congratulations to the blushing bride and groom. Maybe it’s because if people really knew how hard it was, nobody would get married.

The divorce statistics say a lot though – half of all marriages end. Before I got married, I didn’t understand. How could you vow to love someone for better or for worse, in sickness and health, and then decide otherwise later on? How could you just suddenly change your mind one day?

It took me less than two weeks into marriage to understand that sharing every facet of your life with another human being is much harder than it seems.

A mere nine days after our wedding, once the honeymoon was over, and we were settling into our new life as a married couple, I wrote these words in my journal:

I think Logan and I are in for some rough times. It’s just a feeling (and I could be wrong), but I know we’ll make it through because we’re determined to keep God in the center of our marriage.

Boy, if I only knew what was to come.

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The rest of our honeymoon was a blast, thankfully!

When God says Wait

In the summer of 2010, Logan and I had been married for about a year. But in that year, we had already experienced so much, including losing our first son…and we were having problems getting pregnant again. Let’s just say that it was a rough time for us, especially me, as I had no idea what God was doing in my life and I struggled with waiting for him to do something about it. Our baby’s due date had come and gone, our attempts to buy a house weren’t working, and I was feeling pretty empty. I just really wanted to be a mom.

One particular weekend that summer, I was visiting my parents, and my aunt and her family were there too (as well as my brother and his family). Logan wasn’t able to come because of work, so I was the lucky one stuck sleeping on the couch. After everyone else went to bed (and I stayed put because…couch), my aunt hung around for a minute just looking at me. I have to admit I was not a very fun person that day for several reasons. So when my aunt started talking, I knew it was the Holy Spirit talking through her. The thing that sticks out the most is when she said this: “I know God has planned for you an abundant life…but not today.”

When there is something that I want so desperately and I’m praying so fervently for it, I seem to think that God answers either “yes” or “no.” But as history has shown, sometimes God says, “Wait.” And it is through those times of waiting that God reveals an even bigger plan.

There have been so many waiting periods in our marriage – waiting to get pregnant, waiting for our babies to be born after long and difficult pregnancies, waiting for the perfect house. It was truly a lesson in trust and patience, but now I can look back and see how fruitful those times of waiting were (although very hard at times!).

There are other situations we’re still in that waiting period – for Logan to get that dream job, or just a better job, is just one example – and it’s hard to see why God is making us wait so long. It’s even harder to think that we might be waiting forever.

We have several friends who have been unemployed for much longer than expected and other friends who have been unable to conceive after many years. Still others are waiting for their spouses to convert or some are waiting for a chronic medical issue to be solved.

Gosh, there is just so much waiting.

The beauty of marriage, though, is that you have someone to wait with, and I know from experience that you can choose to let those waiting periods tear you apart – or bring you closer together. Use the waiting to cling to each other and strengthen your marriage. I know for us, those have been the best times to work on our communication skills.

If there is anything I have learned from these countless times of waiting, it is this: God has a plan that is above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined. It doesn’t always make sense, and it isn’t always what we would choose for ourselves. And heck, sometimes we won’t even fully know the depth of God’s plan until we see Him in heaven. That’s what faith is about, though…trusting that God knows best, no matter the circumstances. No matter how long we wait for an answer.

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