Blog

The enemy wants to destroy your marriage

We recently went on our 4th marriage retreat! As always, it was the perfect time to reconnect and reevaluate our marriage, our family life, and our prayer life together. By now, we’ve realized that the enemy likes to attack us in the days and weeks after we return from a marriage retreat. Last year, when we got in a huge fight on the way home! Thankfully, God made sure to remind us early on in this retreat that the enemy can be sneaky…

Throughout the weekend, there are several periods of “couple reflection time” – we spend about an hour or so with just the two of us, praying together, answering reflection questions, and talking about how life is going and what we can do to improve.

During the very first couple reflection time of the weekend, we were sitting on a bench in front of a pond, filled with fish and turtles. The weather was beautiful, so we were enjoying the outdoors while having a great conversation – bringing up struggles in our marriage and how to grow together. That short time together was so fruitful, and we were feeling pretty good about it while excited about the rest of the weekend. We knew God was with us and could feel the Holy Spirit moving!

As we closed that time together in prayer, we both opened our eyes at the same time and realized there was a snake in the water, swimming across right in front of us. From then on, we were both distracted in our prayer and couldn’t take our eyes off the snake. (With good reason – snakes are the worst!)

Afterwards, we couldn’t help but think of what a great metaphor that was in married life (and life in general). There are times where we are doing really well in our relationship with God and with each other, and that’s exactly when the enemy is going to try to distract us. A lot of times we won’t even realize our focus is being drawn away from what’s important.

We all know that the enemy is going to attack us when we’re weak, but we tend to forget that he can be sneaky and distract us when we’re strong too.

That’s why it’s important to come together on a regular basis, to share our hearts with each other. We need to make sure we’re keeping our focus on God and not being drawn away by the enemy.

A marriage retreat is a great time for us to do that – and why we try to go on one every year – but sometimes life circumstances don’t allow for us to go away for a weekend. That’s okay, though! We can still set aside time together – whether it’s a few hours one day, or an overnight date, or any other scenario – where we reevaluate all areas of life and where we have intentional conversation together.

“To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them ‘in the beginning.’”  -The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1608

Here’s our video after our last marriage retreat, where we share our takeaway and why we go on retreats often:

And here’s the video we did after our retreat last year, when we got in a fight on the way home:

 

Intentional conversation between spouses

It’s easy to forget that we should constantly be learning about our spouse. Even though we became friends in high school (15 years ago!!) and have been married for almost 10 years, there’s still a lot we don’t know about each other. And we actually talk to each other a lot!

Last year, we decided to each pick 10 questions to ask each other (scroll to the bottom of the post to see that video). And it was really interesting to see how much we learned from each other just in those few minutes. The crazy thing is, we didn’t even talk about spiritual matters! Most of the questions were kind of silly, like, “Whom would you most want as a dinner guest?”

It’s important to talk about the hard stuff too, though. Husband and wife are meant to be “one flesh” – not only in the physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually too. So that means praying together and sharing everything with each other.

Although we do talk a lot and share a lot with each other, we realized that we don’t set time aside specifically to talk without distractions (kids, TV, phones, etc.) – except for marriage retreats and the occasional date night. Conversation usually just happens whenever and often we get frustrated at the distractions that pop up (or when one of us decides to bring up a tough subject right before bed when the other is ready to sleep…oops). So one thing we are doing is prioritizing distraction-free conversation. Once or twice a month, we will put it on the calendar, maybe pick a special snack or drink to share, and talk about our hopes, dreams, and struggles with each other.

That being said, we also want to be more intentional about our conversation daily and weekly too. We decided not to watch TV at all last week and realized doing so opens up enough time to just sit and talk with each other, which is so important to do on a regular basis.

In case you need some ideas on what to talk about, here are a few to get you started!

 

Questions to ask each other daily:

-What was the highlight of your day today?

-Did you spend time in prayer today?

-How can I pray for you?

-What is one thing I can do to help you today?

 

Questions to ask each other weekly:

-Which compliment/gesture/act of kindness did I say/do for you this week that you appreciated the most?

-Did I do anything to hurt you this week? How could I have handled it differently?

-Are you struggling with anything right now? How can I support you in that?

 

Questions to ask each other monthly:

-How are our priorities right now? Are we putting prayer first and our marriage second?

-How is our family life? Do we need to make any changes?

-Which spending area do we need to cut back on?

-What goal can we set for the upcoming month?

 

You can also google “conversation starters” and find so many different questions to ask each other. Make it a monthly occurrence at least. Or you can download our list of conversation starters by clicking here or the image below!

click here

Do you set aside time to talk periodically? What does that look like for you and your spouse?

What Catholic couples can do during Lent

Some of these links are affiliate. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission. Read our privacy policy for more information.


If you watched our latest video (see bottom of this post), you’ll know that we proposed a challenge for your marriage this Lent: pick one thing to do together throughout Lent.

We also shared a couple of ideas that we were thinking about doing together, but we wanted to make an extensive list of ideas for you! It’s easy to go overboard and pick several things to do. But just pick one or two!

We’ve really come to see the power of doing one small thing together and how that can lead us to holiness. While giving up sweets or alcohol or something like that isn’t a bad thing, just make sure you’re picking something that will have a positive impact on your marriage and spiritual life together.

And remember, it’s not supposed to be easy! When you’re deciding on what to do, it’s also good to remember the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So while we’re encouraging you to pick only one thing to do together, you should still focus on all three pillars throughout Lent.

Ready for some ideas for what you can do during Lent with your spouse? In no particular order, here we go!

  1. Pray together everyday, if you’re not already doing so. [It might be good to also read Praying For (and With) Your Spouse by the Popcaks.]
  2. Read Scripture daily. Maybe a Psalm a day or a chapter from one of the Gospels.
  3. Read Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage by the Angels. We did this during Lent last year since it’s 6 weeks long. It only takes 5 minutes a day!
  4. Do the enrichment program Beloved: Mystery & Meaning of Marriage. If your church parish has a subscription to Formed.org, you could do Beloved for free! There are 6 sessions, so you can do one each week in Lent.
  5. Sign up for the Pray More Retreat. It’s a self-paced online retreat with talks, videos, and study guides. The topics look so good and would be great conversation starters!
  6. Wake up earlier to connect and pray together.
  7. Go on a marriage retreat.
  8. Take Natural Family Planning classes, if you haven’t done so yet (or have been putting it off!).
  9. Don’t watch TV. But be sure to replace that TV time with something better!
  10. Pray a daily Rosary.
  11. Go to daily Mass during the week (in addition to meeting your Sunday obligation).
  12. Donate extra money to your church or favorite charity.
  13. Volunteer at your church and in your community.
  14. Read Three Secrets to Holiness in Marriage: A 33-Day Self-Guided Retreat for Catholic Couples by the DeMattes. (Disclaimer: We haven’t read this yet but plan to at some point this year! It has great reviews on Amazon.)
  15. Commit to not spending any money (other than necessities and usual bills) during Lent. Have a “no spend Lent”, if you will.
  16. Pray a Divine Mercy chaplet every day.
  17. Invite someone over for dinner each week. Maybe it’s time to work on hospitality!
  18. Pick a day each week to do hardcore fasting, like what’s done on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting together makes for some good accountability.
  19. Go to bed earlier. Make sure to pray together first!
  20. Commit to not having your phones by you when you’re spending time together at home. Enjoy each other’s company!
  21. Pick a person or family each week to bless in some way. Bring them a meal, offer to babysit, whatever you think might help them. (And don’t expect anything in return!)
  22. Pray an hour from the Liturgy of the Hours each day. This can be done with an app like iBreviary or Laudate, but I’m a big fan of the one-volume Christian Prayer. (And if you want to learn more about the Liturgy of the Hours, I recommend reading The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey.)
  23. Make a weekly visit to an Adoration chapel.

What ideas would you add to the list??


Here’s the video about our challenge for marriages during Lent:

 

Pinterest graphics-4.png

WANT TO GET UPDATES FROM US? SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER!

click here (1)

What you can do during National Marriage Week

Every year,  February 7-14 is recognized as National Marriage Week. It really is the perfect time to celebrate the gift of married life and to show appreciation for our spouse. It’s also a great idea to do a little extra something when it comes to nurturing your relationship together. And in case you wanted some ideas on exactly what you can do during National Marriage Week, we have some ideas…

1. Pray for all marriages.

This includes your own! We need strong and faithful marriages more than ever, and since prayer is so powerful, we need to make sure we’re praying for all marriages.

2. Show love and appreciation for your spouse.

How you do this can vary widely, but we always look to each other’s love languages for inspiration.

3. Plan a date night.

Even if you think date nights aren’t necessary in a marriage, it’s still good to get out together every once and awhile! Date night doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be intentional quality time for just you and your spouse.

4. Read a marriage book together.

I shared my favorite books from last year in this post (including two we read together), but there are so many more to choose from! Reading together provides the perfect opportunity to have some great conversation.

5. Choose an enrichment program to go through together.

Just like certain professions require continuing education, we should be doing the same with our marriage! There’s an extensive list of enrichment programs at the USCCB’s website, For Your Marriage, here. We can personally vouch for how amazing United in Love is, which we did last year through our church parish. It was so fruitful!

6. Book a marriage retreat for the upcoming year.

(Here are 10 reasons why you should go on a marriage retreat.) Or you can do a 7-day online retreat! There are 5 to choose from here.

7. Listen to a marriage talk.

Dr. Brant Pitre has some great ones (like this one and this one), and there are plenty others one to be found on Formed.org by Venerable Fulton Sheen, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Jason Evert…just to name a few.

8. Do a 7-day photo challenge.

My friends at HailMarry thought of a fun challenge to do on Instagram and Facebook. Post a different picture of you and your spouse based on the idea they give you!

Do you have any other ideas?? Share them with us!

Pinterest graphics (5)

Don’t wait to make your marriage a priority

This post contains an affiliate link. Read our privacy policy for more information.


In a show Logan and I watched together last year, there was a man and woman who weren’t doing so well when it came to their marriage. They were barely hanging on….and I mean barely. (And sorry, I’m not going to tell you the show because this post is kind of a spoiler! I hate spoilers.)

It was really painful to watch at times, seeing two people  – who vowed to love each other for better or worse – not treat each other very well. It was even more painful to see the husband try to make things work but be shut down by the wife, who was still remembering painful things he had done in the past.

This couple ended up getting into a situation where they both thought they were going to die. Emotions in this scene were running high, obviously, since they thought it was the last time they would see each other, and they still hadn’t reconciled anything when it came to their struggling marriage.

It didn’t help when the man figured out a way that the woman could survive if he basically sacrificed himself. She was really struggling, probably because she couldn’t seem to forgive her husband for the past…yet he was willing to die for her.

As they were getting ready to enact their plan (which would lead to the husband’s death), the wife blurted out, “I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time being angry at you!”

Whoa. Talk about a lesson learned too late, right? (That scene literally kept replaying in my head for over a month!)

I have to be honest and admit that when I think about the earlier years of our marriage, I did spend way too much time being angry at Logan for the stupidest things. I was too focused on what I wanted, I didn’t spend enough time thinking about how Logan felt in any given situation, and I wasn’t thinking about things in light of eternity.

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since then, but I still need to be reminded from time to time. Because the truth is, we don’t know how long we will have with our spouse. It could be many years (and hopefully it will be), but it could be months…or even days.

I’m not saying that to freak people out. I’m saying that so we can focus on what’s truly important. As husband and wife, our goal is to get each other to heaven. It’s easy to forget that when life is full of so many other things.

I’m saying this as a reminder (especially to me) that we might not have all of the time we think to work on our marriage. Don’t wait to make your marriage a priority until your kids are older, you have more money, or any other number of scenarios. That time might not come.

Do whatever you need to do to make things right with your spouse. Pray together, talk to each other about your struggles, go to counseling, resolve a fight the same day it happens. Ask God for guidance – he will not abandon you.

Just like we need to be prepared for when Jesus comes again, we need to be prepared for the possibility of death coming sooner than later. If Logan died tomorrow, I can honestly say that we’ve been living the best life with each other this last year. We’ve been working harder than ever on our marriage. We don’t want to have any regrets!

Thankfully for the husband and wife in the show, they ended up figuring out a way to survive together. And while they still had a heck of a lot to work through after that, they realized they didn’t want to waste any more time being mad at each other.

Marriage is going to have its hard moments, even in the best of marriages. But the important thing is to love each other through them and remember to make every single day count.

I’ll leave you with the words of Alice von Hildebrand in her book By Love Refined:

“Marriage is worth fighting for – and no sacrifice, no effort should be considered too great to achieve the noble goal of a perfect union between spouses.”


Want to get updates from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

click here (1)

Better Together – a 52-week marriage journal

A couple of years ago, we realized the importance of coming together on a weekly basis to prepare for the upcoming week, share concerns and struggles with each other, and to affirm each other. So we wanted to create a simple and tangible way for married couples to connect every single week.

Enter: a 52-week marriage journal. Now before you tell me, “But I don’t like to journal!” Just wait. It’s not one of those journals where you write paragraphs and paragraphs. Each week, you’ll simply write down the following:

  • what you’re thankful for
  • prayer intentions for that week
  • 3 things you need to accomplish together
  • how you will make your marriage a priority
  • a short note of encouragement to each other

That’s it! 5 simple ways to connect with each other other. Also included is a different Scripture verse (or verses) each week to read together and memorize if you’d like. See the slideshow below for a little peek:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are also a few “extra” pages, like a quarterly check-in page every 3 months, so you can evaluate how things are going. Other extras include:

  • an anniversary page
  • a date night bucket list
  • pages to write the Scripture of the week
  • extra pages to write notes to each other

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The PDF file is 67 pages, so I recommend printing the pages you want to use (you don’t have to use the extras!), hole punching, and then putting them in a binder. That way, you can cut up the extra notes and Scripture pages and put them in the binder pockets to grab when you need one!

You can start using the journal at any time because we leave the date blank. So if you skip a week, you can still continue using the journal…and you can print it out again every single year! We hope it’s helpful. 🙂

$10

 

 

Want to get updates from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

click here (1)

Pinterest graphics-2.png

My favorite marriage books I read this year (2018)

This post contains some affiliate links. Read our privacy policy for more information.


In case you didn’t know, I’m an avid reader. And I try really hard to read books in different genres! So while I’ve read over 40 books this year, a good portion of those were marriage books. (We could say 2018 was the year I read too many marriage books…)

In no particular order, I give you my favorites:

 

Praying for (and With) Your Spouse: The Way to Deeper Love by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak

Logan and I have been meaning to do a video about this book since we’ve read it together over the summer. Even though we’ve been praying together since before we were married, we still gained a lot of insights from this and it’ll probably be a book we refer to again from time to time. (There was a chapter on praying through difficult times, a chapter on praying through decisions, etc.) This would be really helpful for couples who haven’t prayed together before or haven’t been consistent about it.

 

By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand

I don’t know why I had not read this before now! It came highly recommended, and now I can’t recommend it enough. Every woman should read this, preferably in the first year or two of marriage! It’s one of those easy reads that is good to pick up every now and then for a refresher.

 

Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel

Logan and I read this together during Lent because it’s a 6-week devotional. Most days only took 5 minutes, which we usually did at night before bed. It focuses on Theology of the Body and we had some great takeaways….one being inspired to hang a crucifix above our bed. Because, sacrificial love. Highly recommend this one to married couples! (And you don’t need to be Catholic to read it!)

 

The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order by Scott Hahn

This book really inspired me (even more) to focus on the sacramentality of marriage and the importance of all sacraments as a part of our daily lives. I really had a bunch of epiphanies reading this, like God creating the marriage of Adam and Eve as the first relationship on earth because marriage is the foundation of society. Our society is failing because marriage is failing! I could go on and on but you should just read it, even if you’re not married.

 

The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art and Laraine Bennett

Learning about temperaments has been such a game-changer for our marriage! I’ve read the original temperament book and the one about children and wondered if I needed to read this one too, but I ended up really liking the specific examples given for married couples.

————

So there you have it! I challenge you to pick one marriage book to read in 2019, because a little does go a long way. 🙂

And in case you’re curious, these are the marriage books I plan on reading in 2019:

  • The Catholic Church Saved My Marriage by Dr. David Anders
  • Amazing Grace for Married Couples: 12 Life-Changing Stories of Renewed Love by Jeff Cavins, Matthew Pinto, and Patti Armstrong

  • Three Secrets to Holiness in Marriage: A 33-Day Self-Guided Retreat for Catholic Couples by Dan and Amber Dematte (Logan and I will be reading this one together)

Did you read any marriage books this year? Which one was your favorite?

Pinterest graphics (4)

Grieving Together

This is not a sponsored post. We did receive a free copy of the book but all opinions are our own!

There have been many surprises in our last 9+ years of marriage, but the biggest was losing our first baby boy. We didn’t see it coming, and we didn’t know if we would get through it.

I read books on pregnancy loss during the weeks and months to follow, but none of them talked about how it would affect our relationship with God and with each other. There were no Catholic resources on pregnancy loss back then, much less resources about grieving together as a married couple.

Thankfully, times have changed and resources are more available. I was thrilled to learn that Laura Kelly Fanucci (blogger at Mothering Spirit) was coming out with a book co-written with her husband. It’s called Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage. This is the book we’ve been missing! This is the book that we needed almost 9 years ago.

book - Grieving Together

Even though the focus is miscarriage, any couple experiencing any other loss (stillbirth, infant loss) will benefit from this book. They really do cover everything, including:

  • The physical experience of miscarriage
  • What the Catholic Church says about miscarried babies
  • How we can remember our babies
  • How we each grieve as mother and father
  • Prayers and quotes from the saints

Plus so much more. I’d recommend anyone to read this book, whether you’ve experienced a loss or not. There are personal stories woven throughout that give the reader so many different perspectives.

One of my favorite chapters is the one titled “Your Marriage after Miscarriage.” It didn’t hit us until years later how our loss affected our marriage. We got married in June, found out we were pregnant in August, and lost our baby in December. Those first few months of marriage happened so fast! We didn’t know what hit us, and we definitely didn’t know how to cope.

But Laura and Franco address how we each grieve as mother and father and how we grieve as a couple. It really would have been so helpful to have those insights when we were in the thick of it.

Grieving Quote 1.png

Even though it’s been almost 9 years, and we have three more boys with us now, sometimes I feel a little silly that I can still get emotional about our loss. You would think we wouldn’t still need a resource about pregnancy loss. But grief is unpredictable.

It was only this past May that Logan and I both ended up crying over our sweet baby boy while on a marriage retreat. Grief can hit you years later! We often think about what our family would look like with another boy added to the mix.

We also think more about our baby, Levi, during the fall because that’s when I carried him. I still remember the ultrasound dates, the first time I felt him kick, and the day we found out he was a boy. The closer it gets to December 29, the more we think about the baby who really did change everything for us.

Levi

So whether you just miscarried or your loss was several years ago, read this book! Gift it to a couple in need. It makes a valuable resource for any couple, church parish, or ministry. It’s available at Our Sunday Visitor, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Free resources available include:

For anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss, know that we are praying for you!

Want to get updates from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

click here (1)

Advent & Marriage: Ways to keep Advent sacred together

When we really think about it, Advent and marriage have so many connections.

In marriage, our goal is to get each other to heaven. Plus our relationship with our spouse is supposed to be a foretaste of heaven!

In Advent, we’re preparing not only for the birth of Jesus, we’re preparing for when he comes again. It’s a reminder that we need to be ready! We want to be with him in heaven.

So it makes sense that we should want to keep Advent sacred as a married couple. Here are ways you can do that:

1. Commit to a spiritual practice together.

  • Been wanting to start praying a daily Rosary as a couple? Advent is a great time to start.
  • Attend an extra Mass together during the week.
  • Pray an hour from the Liturgy of the Hours each day.

2. Read a book together.

  • Devotionals are big during Advent, and I helped write an Advent devotional for Catholic couples! Read more details here.
  • A book of the Bible counts as a book! Reading through one of the Gospels together leading up to Christmas is a simple but beautiful way to connect in a faithful way.

3. Limit screen time.

  • Normally watch Netflix every night together? Try to limit it to once or twice a week.
  • Put your phones aside when you’re together for a designated time each day.

Doing both of those will give you plenty of time to do any of the previous suggestions!


4. Don’t feel like you have to attend every party.

Seriously. It’s okay to politely decline an invitation! Especially if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. December is a crazy time, and if saying yes to every single event will leave you frazzled and forgetful of what Advent is all about…just say no. Keep each other accountable to this!


5. Go to confession.

We try to go every month, and that’s especially important during Advent and Lent! Make this a priority. Receiving this sacrament regularly has literally changed our marriage! (And if things start spiraling, it’s usually because one of us hasn’t been recently.)


6. Decide on which traditions to do this year, and shelf the rest.

Really, it’s okay. Last year, Logan suggested we not take out our Jesse Tree (after struggling with it the previous two years), so I realized that he was right. Not every tradition will be right for your family every year – especially if you’re in a difficult phase with pregnancy, a baby, illness, or any other number of scenarios. Do what what works best for your family this year. But make sure you decide on that together!

The important thing is that you keep Advent in Advent. Let’s keep Jesus at the center of this season. Christmas will come, and then you can celebrate!

What else would you add to list?

Pinterest graphics.png

 

Ways to enrich relationships this Advent

This post contains affiliate links. If a sale is made through an affiliate link, we receive a commission. Read our privacy policy for more info.

Did you want to buy our marriage challenge cards and never got around to it? Are you looking for ways to celebrate Advent? Ways to enrich your relationships with God, your husband, and your kids?

If your answer to those questions is yes, then you will love the Catholic Mom Bundle! (Okay, any men reading? This would make a great surprise gift for your wife…)

I’ve already had a sneak preview, so I’m trying to figure out my favorite part. Is it the…

  • Grace Grows in the Trenches: 5 Minute Meditations for the Weary Catholic Mom (Plus an Advent Bonus Bundle), $24
  • The Question Jar: Cultivating Connections in Catholic Families, $5
  • An At Home Nativity Play, $6 (things like this are REALLY fun with Logan, ha…and our boys will love it)

I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but I am also really excited about the Mass Journal for Moms that comes as a bonus with Grace Grows in the Trenches. Logan and I have been using a Mass journal together and I need something to replace it once Advent and the new liturgical year starts.

Normally, Grace Grows in the Trenches (plus the Advent bundle) sells for $24, but with the Catholic Mom Bundle (on sale just this week!), you can get a lot more products too….for just $1 more.

CMB Advent 2018 Collage.png

For $25, you can a total of 20 products (valued at $246). Some of the resources include printables, workbooks, eBooks, and email courses. We have products for spiritual growth, marriage, mom’s faith, and family life.

As a contributor, I had early access to the bundle, and I found a bunch of other things I’m excited about too!

Just to name a few:

  • Wall Calendar for Everyday Catholics, $15 (our 6-year old loves this, seriously…it has all the feast days for him to keep track of)
  • 12 Days of Mercy, $48
  • A Month for Your Marriage challenge cards (I mean, our product has to be one of my faves, right?)

Seriously, there are so many great products, all of which can enrich all of the relationships in your life. And although several would be great for Advent, many can be used whenever! Including our marriage challenge cards. (Although they would be perfect to do during the month of December!)

I know our kids are so excited about a couple of the products already! Check out the full list in the Catholic Mom Bundle (our affiliate link!) —–> here!

 But don’t wait too long. It’s only on sale until Friday!