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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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7 ways to bring Mary into your marriage

During our wedding ceremony, we presented flowers to the Blessed Mother, entrusting our marriage to her.

praying for your spouse

Honestly, I don’t think we fully grasped the importance of that at the time. But as years have gone by, we’ve realized more and more just how vital our Mother is to our marriage.

She is the ultimate example of what it means to say “yes” to God’s will and to trust Him in everything. Her fiat – her “yes” – led to the salvation of the whole world. Not only did she have the perfect marriage, she was the perfect mother. As a woman, I look to Mary as a guide as I strive to become a better wife and mother.

(But a man could totally consider Mary as an example too! She was so trusting and self-sacrificial, two qualities essential in a marriage. The most awesome priests we know are the ones with a devotion to the Blessed Mother.)

Plus, the devil is terrified of Mary – have you noticed that many statues of Mary have her crushing the serpent? She is the WOMAN. Her prayers are so powerful, as she can literally whisper into the ear of Jesus. And he listens to her, just like he did from the very beginning of his ministry at the wedding at Cana.

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How can you bring Mary into your marriage? Here are some ideas:

  1. Place a statue of Mary in your home, specifically in your bedroom.
  2. Pray the Rosary together.
  3. Have images of Mary hanging on your walls, especially in your bedroom. (We also have one of Mary and baby Jesus right outside our boys’ room, which I love.)
  4. Create a Marian garden in your yard. (We just did this! See our video at the end of the post!)
  5. Celebrate Marian feast days. (One of our faves is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!)
  6. Read 33 Days to Morning Glory together.
  7. If your church has a place for flowers in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother, present those to her together and pray a Hail Mary for your marriage. (Our church has a little grotto which is perfect for this!)

May is the month of Mary, so this is the perfect time to think about how you can Mary into your marriage! Do you have any other ideas to add to the list?

7 ways to pray with your spouse

Are you tired of me talking about this yet? I hope not, because it’s so important!

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Even though Logan and I pray together every night before bed (when we’re both home, at least, and going to bed at the same time, which is most nights), we’ve realized the importance of changing up our prayer routine a bit. So I thought I’d share some ways you can pray together with your spouse.

  1. Spontaneous prayer. This is what Logan and I mostly do every night. Logan leads and starts with thanksgiving and adoration, then intentions. I add intentions, and we close by asking our family litany of saints for prayers too.
  2. Rosary. We usually pray the Rosary individually – Logan during his work commute and me at home – but during long car rides we pray together. And we recently started praying a rosary together on Logan’s off days. (I completely admire couples who pray the Rosary together everyday!)
  3. Liturgy of the Hours. We’re not always up at the same time to do Morning Prayer, and Evening Prayer is hard to fit in with homework, dinner, and bedtime. But we have prayed Night Prayer together, which is my favorite. It’s the perfect way to end the day – and it’s even better when you pray it with your spouse! And maybe one day our schedule will allow to either do Morning or Evening Prayer together…
  4. Devotional Book. We just finished Forever and highly recommend it! Each chapter takes about 5 minutes – reflection, challenge, and a prayer. This is a great way to ease into praying together, I think.
  5. Mass. The entire Mass is a prayer! It’s hard to remember sometimes, especially if you have little kids and can’t focus the entire time. But going to Mass together is a lovely way to pray together.
  6. Lecto Divina. This is the one thing we need to start doing. We’ve been reading the Mass readings together with our handy dandy Every Sacred Sunday journal and talking about what spoke to us, but we haven’t really delved into praying with it together yet. But, baby steps!
  7. Retreat. This is one of those things that you won’t realize how important/helpful/fruitful it is until you actually do it. Getting away to a prayerful setting, embracing the Sacraments, and being able to focus on God and your spouse for an entire day or two is one of the best things ever. We’ve been on two and are going on another one soon! Every time has been such a source of strength and renewal in our marriage. Highly, highly recommend it.

Now you share! What’s your favorite way to pray with your spouse? What has helped you stay consistent with it?

And here’s our video on praying together if you missed it:

How to make date night actually happen

If you’re one of those couples who faithfully goes on a date every month (or week!), just skim right past this. 😉

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Date night. We all know we should do it but…making it happen? Completely different thing. I have some thoughts if you struggle with it!

1. Figure out what your main obstacle is to making it happen.

Is it your budget? Your baby who won’t take a bottle? Lack of a babysitter? You’re just too tired? (That last one is a lame excuse, by the way…)

Once you’ve pinpointed the obstacle(s), brainstorm a solution. Together!

For us, it’s a few factors. We have limited to no budget (depending on the month, because we have variable income), so we mostly rely on gifts cards and the generosity of loved ones to babysit.

When we have a tiny baby who is hard to leave, we’ve relied on in-home date nights until the stars aligned to make an out-of-the-home date night happen. (And then we took the baby with us.)

I personally can’t stand the planning part of a date – figuring out where to go, who’s going to babysit, etc. Logan is constantly begging to go on a date, and I inwardly groan, because while I would like to go too, I hate being the one in charge of planning. So I finally thought to tell Logan I’d be more than happy to go on a date whenever if he took the initiative to plan – mainly booking a babysitter. My favorite dates have been the ones where he did all of the planning.

Because of our schedule currently, evening dates don’t usually work. So we realized that going on a date in the middle of the day is easier and much less stressful.

You might have to get creative when it comes to a solution to your specific obstacle, but for most people, there is one!

2. It doesn’t have to be extravagant to be considered a date.

Seriously, though. Of course it’s nice to get dressed up really nice, eat at a fancy restaurant, and go dance the night away in some fancy club.

If you want to be consistent about going on dates, though, you probably should keep it simple for the most part. Go to a quiet coffee shop and sip some lattes, browse a thrift store (and pick something out for each other if the budget allows!), or heck, go for a walk or ride bikes. The point of a date is to have dedicated time for just you and your spouse. No fireworks needed.

3. Keep both of your personalities in mind.

Logan and I are complete opposites when it comes to temperament and love languages. So that means we have different ideas of what we want our dates to look like….which means our dates usually consist of quiet down time for my sake (i.e. dinner) and something exciting for Logan’s sake (i.e. picking out each other’s outfits at Goodwill). Yes, you might have to compromise, but I’ve actually come to appreciate my spouse’s wild and crazy ideas. Maybe you will too!

4. Don’t be discouraged. It is only a season.

We’ve been through seasons where going on a date felt close to impossible – one of the kids (or us) was sick for two months straight, our baby did not do well in the evening, there was literally no money to do anything, etc. But don’t lose hope! This phase is temporary. Just make sure you jump on an opportunity to go on a date as soon as it comes. It will be worth it!

So, what do you think? What helps you make date night happen?

In case you missed it, we vlogged our last date! We also share 3 things we try to do every time we go on a date:

A month for your marriage {bringing it together}

In case you missed it, I hosted a weekly marriage challenge this month! Read the previous posts: week 1week 2,  week 3, and week 4.

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How I did on Week 4, praying for your spouse

Well, I did pray for Logan every day! I pray a daily rosary, so I also made sure a couple of those were solely for his intentions. This challenge really did help me remember to pray for him more. There was one day I slacked off a little and honestly, on the days that I was on top of it, I noticed that he was a better husband and father – more loving, more patient, etc.

There was one specific intention I was praying for a lot, and halfway through the week, an opportunity came up that might be answer to that prayer! (Prayers appreciated for that, please and thank you.) Prayer is pretty powerful!

How about you? Did you pray for your spouse every day? What helped you?

Bringing it together

I honestly thought at the beginning of this month that these challenges wouldn’t really make a difference, because we’re doing pretty well right now and are pretty much doing all of these things anyway (well, we’ve been slacking on date night, but part of that has been because of sick kids).

But every single week, I was actually very grateful for each specific challenge, because it is SO easy to slack off. Yes, we pray together, and yes, we’re vulnerable with each other, and yes, I pray for Logan. We’re not perfect at it though…not even close. We had some really bad days this month and it was nice to have some accountability with these challenges.

My biggest takeaway is that even when you think you’re doing fine, you could always be doing better.

Your thoughts

What did you think about the challenges? Were they helpful? Would you be interested in doing A Month for Your Marriage again (with different challenges, of course)? What would you change? Would you be interested in getting the challenges via email? I’d love to hear from you!

I hope everyone has a blessed Triduum and a very happy Easter!

A month for your marriage {week 4 – praying for your spouse}

In case you missed it, I’m hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1, week 2, and week 3.

Copy of Habits we do every day (2)

How we did on week 3’s challenge, being vulnerable

For the few days, I honestly felt like there was nothing I needed to share with Logan. We’re pretty open with each other now, and we text each other throughout the day most days. Buuuuut then I started feeling some crazy thoughts about some discernment things. And I was really tempted to just not tell Logan because I knew he would be like NOPE, YOU CRAZY. Then I remembered my challenge and thought, well, this is my time to be vulnerable! So I brought it up and he basically had the reaction I was expecting…but we still talked about it and it was good.

How about you? Did you have a meaningful talk with your spouse? (You don’t have to tell me what it was about!) Do you think it brought you closer together?

Pray for your spouse

Logan and I have always prayed together, but it took me a few years to realize I was sorely lacking in how often I prayed specifically for Logan. During our most difficult pregnancy, in 2014, Logan was really struggling with the stress of everything, so I started to pray for him more. I also asked for the intercession of St. Joseph, and I was so surprised (and grateful) to see fruits of my prayers.

It’s easy to forget that we’re supposed to get each other to heaven, and a lot of times I’m too focused on what to do or say to Logan in order to help him. But prayer is the most productive thing I can do! Chances are, you are the one of the few (if not only one) who knows the deepest desires of your spouse’s heart. You know what special intentions they could use prayers for – and if you don’t know, ask! (Remember to be vulnerable!)

This week’s challenge

Commit yourself to praying for your spouse every single day this week. Choose a special intention, maybe something he/she is struggling with, and ask God to give your spouse special graces regarding that intention. Or better yet – ask your spouse how you can pray for him/her in a special way this week!

Ideas:

  • pray a daily Rosary for your spouse
  • attend a daily Mass and offer that for your spouse
  • ask a specific saint (your spouse’s patron, if she/he has one) for their prayers as well

I’ll be back next week (Holy Thursday!!) with a post to wrap everything up. Thanks for following along!

A month for your marriage {week 3 – being vulnerable}

In case you missed it, I’m hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1 and week 2.

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How we did on week 2’s challenge, date night

I have to admit this was easier for me because I totally knew about this in advance. So we actually went on our date the day before I posted the challenge. Logan and I picked out each other’s clothes at Goodwill and then wore them to eat sushi. And then we went back to Goodwill because of some hilariousness that you should check out on our Instagram account on the stories highlights! It was a super fun date, our first in entirely too long, and now I know we need to really make more of an effort to make it happen. (And we ended the date with a visit to an adoration chapel, which was lovely.)

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We’ve also been doing a marriage program at our church once a week too, so technically that could be counted as another date night, since our kids do not come with us.

Did you manage to go on a date? I’d love to hear about it!

Being vulnerable

Logan and I have gotten closer every single year, and that’s because we’ve realized the beauty in being vulnerable with each other. It’s hard to get closer to someone if you’re not sharing intimate feelings with them. I’d venture to say it’s even vital to a marriage to share your deepest struggles with each other!

How am I supposed to help Logan if I don’t know how he needs help? How am I supposed to support Logan if I don’t even know he needs it? Same with him. We cannot read each other’s minds.

It’s not easy sharing some thoughts and feelings with each other though. I’ll admit that I have a crazy mind sometimes (thanks, melancholic temperament!). So sometimes Logan looks at me like I’m a crazy person when I share something with him. But now he better understands me, and he loves me better because of it.

If you’re not sharing the small details of your day with each other, it’ll be hard to share the big stuff. So start small. Tell each other about your day – what you did, who you saw and talked to, your high and low points. It’ll progress from there. The important thing is that you communicate regularly.

Now Logan and I can tell each other absolutely anything (and I mean anything) and not think the other is crazy. We don’t get mad either. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

This week’s challenge

Is there something you’ve been struggling with or been thinking about and haven’t told your spouse? Talk to them about it this week. It can be something small, like struggling with your Lenten sacrifice, or your fears about a future pregnancy or job change. Whatever really! (Bonus points for getting your spouse to share something too!) If you’re already pretty open, be intentional about sharing more details about your day. Make sure you’re sharing more with your spouse than anyone else. 

Things to remember:

  • If you freak out or get mad when your spouse shares something big, you might make them take a step back. Remain calm!
  • If a serious issue comes out (i.e. your spouse admits to an addiction or other serious sin), don’t hesitate to get a third party involved if necessary. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Being vulnerable with each other is how you grow closer together.
  • The devil wants you to keep things from each other!
  • Praying together is a great first step to being vulnerable with each other – check out our latest video about praying together.

 

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!

A month for your marriage {week 2 – date night}

In case you missed it, I’m hosting a weekly marriage challenge this month! Read last week’s post with more details here.

Copy of Habits we do every day (2)

How we did on Week 1’s challenge, praying together

Well, we prayed together every day! We actually decided to pray the Rosary together on Logan’s off days, which we did, and that’s something we want to continue. Thankfully we did that during the day on Sunday, because Logan went out with a friend that night and I fell asleep before he got home – which meant we wouldn’t have prayed together that day had we not prayed a Rosary earlier in the day.

We also prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet one night in addition to our usual prayer time, because we both cheated on our Lenten sacrifice at a church event (oops…darn you sugar cookies!) and wanted to make reparation for it.

How did you do? Did you pray together every day or just once or twice? Was it harder or easier than you expected? Share in the comments or in an Instagram post using the hashtag #amonthforyourmarriage. Can’t wait to hear!

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Week 2, Date Night

We have seasons where we’re going on dates regularly, and we have seasons where it feels impossible to complete the Date Night Trio: 1) find a night that works, 2) find a sitter, and 3) have enough wiggle room in the budget to have a little fun. It’s so hard, I get it. There are multiple factors at play – money, schedule, age of your kids, etc.

But it doesn’t matter if you’re going every month, or every week – you just need go sometime. Don’t let money or time be an excuse as to why you’re not spending dedicated time together. You can still go on dates and not spend money (get creative!), and if your marriage is important to you, you will make the time.

Confession: I’m totally fine having a “date” at home. But thanks to my extroverted husband, we tend to go out for dates because that’s what he likes. And now I know that getting out of the house is exactly what we need sometimes and it rejuvenates our marriage even more. A little space sometimes can give you some perspective.

This week’s challenge

Plan a date night (or day) that will happen in the next week or two. Try to plan something that both of you will like where you can spend time talking to each other (that means no movies!!).

Ideas (that require little to no money, because it’s easy to think of things that require money!):

  • walk around the city or downtown area near you
  • browse a bookstore and have some coffee
  • browse a thrift store and pick out clothes for each other
  • revisit the location of your wedding proposal
  • visit a church or adoration chapel (and pray together!)

A month for your marriage {week 1 – praying together}

This month I’m hosting a weekly challenge dedicated to our marriages. So every Thursday in March, I’ll post a brief reflection and a challenge for you to do. Don’t worry, I’m doing the challenge too! Check back the following week to hear about how I did. I’ll also have a new reflection and challenge for you.

Share how you do each week in the comment section! I’ll also be on Instagram using the hashtag #amonthforyourmarriage if you want to share there. I’d love for you to join in!  (Of course I totally want you just to do the challenges regardless of whether or not you share it with me. Mmkay?)

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Praying together

If I had to say one thing that has strengthened our marriage more than anything, it’s praying together. We’ve always prayed together – even when we were engaged. Now I know what a blessing that was, and I’m so grateful we had that foundation from the very beginning.

But I know a lot of couples haven’t ever prayed together, or they’re not consistent with it. I know some people are married to someone who doesn’t go to church, much less pray. Even if that’s the case, it’s okay! You can still do it. Maybe starting a prayer life together will lead your spouse to having his/her own prayer life.

It can seem awkward, especially if you’ve never prayed together. But it’s just one of those things that you have to jump into and eventually you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was awkward in the first place. (Kind of like sex, actually…)

Find what works for you. Some couples pray the rosary together every night. That is not us…yet, at least (but we do pray the Rosary individually). Our main prayer time is usually right before we go to bed, and while it’s typically spontaneous prayer, sometimes we do other things like Evening Prayer (from Liturgy of the Hours), a Rosary, a chaplet, or whatever.

Some couples do better praying together in the morning though. Everyone is different! It might take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your marriage. Our prayer routine is certainly not fancy or extreme, but it works, and we’re consistent.

This week’s challenge

If you and your spouse don’t regularly pray together, pray together every single day this week. It can be short and simple – the important thing is that you do it! If you’re already in the habit of praying together, stretch yourselves a little or try something new. Maybe read some Scripture together too, or extend your prayer time by praying a Rosary. The possibilities are endless!

Things to remember:

  • Studies show that couples who pray together are happier together and have lower rates of divorce
  • Don’t wait for your spouse to initiate it (obviously, it’s best for the man to lead, but don’t let that be your excuse to not pray together!)
  • Start small. An Our Father prayer or a simple “Jesus, help us to become better spouses to each other. Amen.” Progress as you feel comfortable!
  • DON’T MAKE EXCUSES. Just do it!

We will be praying for all of you this week! Together 😉