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Celebrating Marriage
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Time to Refocus
An Ever-changing Promise
Resources
The Everyday Struggles of Marriage


The other day, Mark and I decided to enjoy the beautiful weather outside and take a drive with the kids to nowhere in particular. It's something we used to do all the time when we first started dating all the way to when the children were little—usually out of desperation to try to get them to sleep. We would use the captive time in the car to talk and be together without the million interruptions life often presents.

But over time, and thanks to an ever-growing schedule of activities, we stopped this ritual. The other day reminded me why, because almost immediately after we started our drive the complaining started.

"Where are we going?"

"What's the point of this?"

"I'm bored."

"Can we get something to eat?"

Exasperated, I told Mark to forget it. But he wasn't so quick to give up. He grabbed my hand and began explaining to the kids why what we were doing was important to him and me. He drove some of our favorite routes from over the years, captivating our kids with stories of the houses we dreamed of owning, places we used to hang out with friends, spots with amazing views. Amazingly, the kids seemed to enjoy the trip down memory lane. And I was once again reminded that, just like that little road trip, marriage requires you to keep forging ahead every day—even when it would be easier just to give up.

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Time to Refocus

This month, Mark and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Before we got married—and even after—we spent a lot of time on our relationship, our communication, our future. But as happens with a lot of marriages, over time, and with the addition of each child, the focus started to become less on us and more on others. Conflicting kids' activities often saw us going separate ways more than in the same direction. Suddenly, date nights consisted of either shopping for things the kids needed or the old standby of dinner and a movie.

The Everyday Struggles of Marriage

If there's one thing I learned quickly once I got married, it's that marriages can rise and fall not on the big things, but rather the little things, like laundry or individual quirks. To hear more about marriage and those "little things," visit Franciscan Radio (www.franciscanradio.org) to listen to my Marriage Moments radio segments on 13 topics.

Then earlier this year Mark started a new job that required an outrageous amount of travel at the outset. For months, our communication seemed to consist of text messages, brief phone calls and instant messaging.

To say it was rough is an understatement. But that's why I'm so glad we have those vows we made years ago. They provide us with the strong underpinnings on which our entire family is based.

An Ever-changing Promise

Those of you who are married know that your relationship can and will change from day to day, month to month and year to year. Sometimes on our wedding day, when we recite those vows promising to love each other "in good times and bad, in sickness and health," we tend not to focus on those not-so-wonderful parts. But that's when we need our vows the most.

Here are some suggestions for ways to help you keep celebrating your marriage.

Revisit your "I do's." One night recently, Mark and I sat on the couch after the kids went to bed and watched the video of our wedding. While we were watching, we talked about the things that meant a lot to us, what was going through our heads at the time and what we might do differently if we got to plan it all over again.

Talk. Think of some ways that you and your spouse have managed to keep the romance alive in your marriage. Talk them over with your partner. Then plan a nice night out or in for just the two of you.

Go on a date. Mark a date on your calendar each month and stick to it. Trust me, I know it's not easy, but your marriage is worth it. Make spending time together a priority. It doesn't have to be an expensive night out; you could stay at home and find something to do. Just make sure it is all about the two of you.

Turn back the clock. Remember all the things the two of you used to do "just because"? Start doing them again. Hold hands, write each other love notes or surprise your spouse with his or her favorite treat. Rekindle the flame. These days, instead of bringing home flowers, sometimes Mark will bring me home a fountain soda, one of my favorite indulgences. Dinner dates have morphed into lunch dates while the kids are at school. And during football season, since we're both big fans, Sunday and Monday nights we try to have a standing date to watch the games together after the kids have gone to bed.

 

www.foryourmarriage.org The U.S. bishops' Web site devoted to their "For Your Marriage"initiative has a wealth of tips, tools and resources, such as weekly dating ideas and a marriage resource center.

PMAT: The Perfect Marriage Aptitude Test, by Mary Carty. This book offers married couples a wonderful opportunity to talk about all those unpredicted issues that develop over the years.

Fireproof. This movie, starring Kirk Cameron of the 1980s TV sitcom Growing Pains, details the struggle of a firefighter and his wife trying to save their marriage. The movie's Web site (www.fireproofthemovie.com), as well as a companion Web site (www.fireproofmymarriage.com) and book The Love Dare, offers couples a vast array of resources.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at "Faith-filled Family," 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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