Defending Marriage

September 14, 2014 under Syllabus 2014-2015

Summary

Charitably defending the definition of marriage can be challenging with the current trends in society, how do we do it?

Objective

The Catholic Church views marriage as not merely a necessary union in order to create more humans, but in fact as a holy covenant between a man and a woman which mirrors the relationship of Christ and His Church.

Marriage is the lifelong union of a husband and wife. It is timeless, universal, and unique, and benefits society – especially children – in ways no other relationship can. That’s why marriage policy is rooted in the reality that children need a mother and a father. While not every husband and wife will have children, every child still has, needs, and deserves a mom and a dad.

Bible Readings

1. Genesis 2:22-24

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

2. Mark 10:6-9

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Catechism Readings

1. 1625  

The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:

—not being under constraint;

—not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

2. 1604

God who created man out of love also calls him to love—the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.90 Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.’”

Small Group Questions

1. With the constant exposure to modern, politically correct media how do we teach our children that supporting traditional marriage is not being intolerant or mean?

2. How do we explain our position to our more liberal friends, and remain friends?

Author(s)

Jack Voet

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Man and His Wife-What Kind of Marriage Do You Have?

August 25, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

If a stranger were to ask you, “What kind of marriage do you have?” would the question catch you off guard? How would you respond on such short notice? Would it sound like any of the following?

 

·         “We are doing great because everything is 50/50”

·         “We’re living the dream. I make all the decisions and plans and my wife likes it that way”

·         “I think we have a good marriage because we have a shared vision and we check in with each other to make sure we remain on the same page”

 

St. John Chrysostom suggests that we say to our wives,” I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself.  For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us…. I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you”

Objective

Engage the large group in a discussion to explore different types of marriage styles. The intention is not to judge one better than the other but rather gain insight into why certain styles work for varying couples. Keeping in mind that God’s call for our marriages is to move toward agape love.

 

·         Top down

o   You or your wife commands the ship and the other may just be living in the others reality

§  Is this healthy and sustainable?

§  What makes it work?

§  Have you or she checked in with each other to see if you are happy living in this style?

·         The “Equal” marriage

o   Tasks and effort are divided equally and scores are kept

§  Divide and conquer

§  Is this a business arrangement?

§  What happens when perception of who is carrying the load is other than 50/50?

·         Coexist

o   Living day to day

§  Just keeping it together

§  Lack of intention in the relationship

§  Is the marriage at risk?

·         Side by Side

o   Shared vision and shared goals

§  Intentional about how you both want the relationship to grow

§  Mutual respect

·         Agape

o   St. John Chrysostom’s quote

§  I live for you and you live for me

o   Definition of Catholic marriage

§  My role is to get my wife into heaven and her role is to get me into heaven

·         Are you and your wife intentional about this?

 

Bible Readings

1.       Ephesians 5:31

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Catechism Readings

1.       Paragraph 2364

The married couple forms “the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent.” Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.

Small Group Questions

1.       Has your marriage morphed in or out of any of the types discussed this morning?

2.       Have you had the guts to check in with your wife lately to ask her what she likes about your marriage and what she doesn’t?

3.       If your marriage is in trouble are you willing to seek counseling?

4.       What role does God play in your marriage?

 

Recommended Resources

1.       Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

Accountability:

1.       Give thought to and report back as to what your marriage looks like

2.       Discuss with your wife her vision for the marriage

Author(s)

Mitch West

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You & Your Wife – Differences in Spiritual Lives

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

You and your wife invariably have different views on all sorts of things. What if one of these differences is how you practice your faith? Perhaps one of you is Catholic and one is not. Perhaps one of you is very active and engaged with your faith, and the other is not as much. You still have to make it work as a couple. If you have children, you have to make it work for them too. How do you handle this potentially sensitive topic?

Objective

Spiritual intimacy in marriage is about more than just spending time in God’s Word. It’s about learning how to connect with your spouse through your faith. Often times, couples say that they “can’t connect with their spouse” because they’re not in the same place spiritually. But, there are small things you can do as a couple to become more like-minded in your spiritual walk. Whether you and your wife are of different religions, or just varying “degrees” of Catholic, explore ways to more effectively relate to your wife regarding your faith(s).

Bible Readings

1. 1 Corinthian 7:12-14,16

12 To the rest I say: if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; 13 and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

2. 2 Peter 1:5-11

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, 7 devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. 8 If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more eager to make your call and election firm, for, in doing so, you will never stumble. 11 For, in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

3. Luke 17:5-6

5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

4. Romans 1:14-17

14 To Greeks and non-Greeks alike, to the wise and the ignorant, I am under obligation; 15 that is why I am eager to preach the gospel also to you in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek. 17 For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1634

Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

2. Paragraph 1644

The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: “so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” They “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.” This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.

3. Paragraph 818-819

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

Small Group Questions

1. In what ways is your own faith journey a solitary experience? A communal experience?

2. Do you and your wife have different levels of commitment to your faith? If so, how have you handled this? How have you handled your children’s faith formation?

Recommended Resources

1. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/strengthening_your_marriage/spiritual_intimacy/blending_two_spiritual_lives.aspx

2. http://www.sandiego.edu/interchurch/religiousdifferences/religiousdiffedu.htm

3. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-does-the-church-say-about-mixed-faith-marriage

4. http://foreverfamilies.byu.edu/Article.aspx?a=146

Accountability

1. If your wife and you are not “on the same page”, set aside some time to discuss this topic. The following are sample questions:

a. How important to each of us is our own religious faith?

b. How involved in religion do we want our child to be?

c. How involved does each of us want to be in our child’s religious formation?

2. Related to the above, write down a list of the five most important religious or spiritual beliefs that you have in common with your wife. After each of you have composed your lists, share them with one another. How are the lists similar or different? Are there any surprises? If so, why?

Author(s)

Steve Frazer

Included Resources

1. FAITH AND MARRIAGE — WHEN SPOUSES HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS
BY: DONNA ERICKSON COUCH, M.A.
http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/EDC/preview.aspx?id=231

After the romantic dust of my marriage settled, the fundamental questions of life surfaced dramatically when my closest friend was killed in a car accident. As I grappled with grief, my husband, Dana, comforted me as best he could. When I talked, however, about my need for God and church (I had drifted away from my Catholic faith), he was silent. Eventually he told me that, while he didn’t mind if I wanted religion again, he would not participate.

About 10 years into our marriage, I not only forged my way back to my faith alone, but also embarked on a spiritual quest that changed my life. Through years of confusion and struggle, I prayed and suffered in silence as I tried to reconcile my simultaneous love for God and for my nonparticipant husband. I worried about my role in Dana’s salvation and agonized over how to raise our children in the faith by myself.

Nagging questions plagued me: Why had this happened? Would God come between us? Was there anyone else like me in the community? Many years passed until, with the help of my studies in faith development, interpersonal communication and mysticism, I finally made peace with the uncertainties. These rather different topics resonated with me at an opportune time, and I received four transformative insights:

1. After a few years married, it’s common to experience a spiritual awakening.

The richness of Catholicism often doesn’t resonate until long after the wedding day. Upon completion of Confirmation class or during college, many churchgoers drift away from their practice of the faith. When thoughts turn to marriage, faith is frequently downplayed or discarded by those with limited adolescent or childhood views of faith. We may allow the naïve presumption that “love is all you need” to prevail. Religious practice becomes low or sometimes not even on the priority list.

Later, perhaps after a child or two, it’s common to experience an awakening, a need for God and community again. Frequently, those who return are surprised to discover a treasury of meaning in their original faith. Along with the elation of this breakthrough, however, may linger thoughts about the negative effects this may have on significant relationships. Does God come between people?

2. Authentic spirituality isn’t divisive.

As my inner life grew and I couldn’t share it with Dana, I felt an increasing distance developing between us. When I tried to describe my feelings to a friend, he quoted me the words of Jesus, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword….and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

Though discouraged, I nonetheless pressed on and, with the help of prayer and a spiritual director, found deeper meaning in this biblical passage. I learned that, even though the incompatible beliefs we hold about God can indeed feel insurmountable, time and maturity quell the fear. Like with marriage, when we commit to God for the long haul, it’s natural to experience times of tension.

Perseverance matters most when it comes to love and provides the backbone of authentic spirituality. This awareness led to yet another related insight: All expressions of love are expressions of divine love. As our capacity for God’s love increases, so does our ability to love others. Paradoxically, my deep love for God empowered me to love Dana on an even deeper level. In the end, the “sword” of God’s love actually keeps us together.

3. The inner journey is a solitary journey into God.

In another Scripture passage, Jesus says that there is no marriage in heaven (Mark 12:25). This was in response to the Pharisees when they questioned him about the eternal consequences of multiple marriages.

If we can imagine this concept as a blueprint for the spiritual journey, an important insight is revealed: While there are many companions on the outer journey, no one may walk the inner path with us. While we can try to describe our personal relationships with God, no one else—not even those to whom we are wed—may share those experiences completely.

God calls each of us into a type of “mystical marriage” which demands that we forsake all others. No one escapes the rigors of the solitary inner journey. Those of us who walk in faith without our spouses have the opportunity of learning this sooner and in a slightly different way.

4. All relationships are mirrors of the divine relationship.

Admittedly, we have a need to share what is deep inside and we long for someone to understand our zeal for God. Fortunately, an “inner landscape” reverberates throughout creation and is communicated through the many people we call friends and intimates. All of our relationships, not just with those who share our faith walk, teach us about God.

Can we see and hear the divine in everyone? Equipped with a bigger vision, we can welcome the challenges of living with those who, without words, can teach us about the subtleties and whispers of God’s presence. Meanwhile, spiritual directors and friends can help us process the complexities of relationship with God. Frequently, others serve this need better than the ones with whom we live.

If you find yourself in the middle of a spiritual awakening, while simultaneously married to someone not on the same page, you can take heart. The challenge of living an intentional, God-centered life provides an opportunity to experience what it means to fall in love again and again—with your spouse, your faith and the beloved Holy One.

When God means something different to your spouse, it’s not the end of the world but rather the starting point for a profound encounter with love’s sacred mysteries.

What advice do you have for an “unequally yoked” marriage?

http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25920/~/what-advice-do-you-have-for-an-%22unequally-yoked%22-marriage%3F

Here are a few principles to keep in mind as you face the daily challenge of living with a mate who doesn’t share your deepest spiritual commitments:

1) Be patient. Try to remember that God loves your spouse even more than you do. He may be taking your partner on a spiritual journey that you know nothing about. He may choose to use you in the process, but He doesn’t need your help. So don’t play the role of the Holy Spirit. Stay in prayer and trust the Lord to do what He wants to do.

2) Don’t stand in the way. While perfection isn’t possible or even necessary, your behavior can attract or repel your spouse where spiritual things are concerned. You’re living out what you’re experiencing with God. Is it appealing? Is your relationship with Christ making you a more enjoyable person to live with – or just a more religious one?

3) Be authentic. You should not only share your faith with your spouse, but your concerns as well. In other words, don’t be afraid to reveal your personal weaknesses. It would be hypocritical to pretend that you’re not worried when you really are, or that you don’t have doubts when you really do. Your transparency can be especially healing if your mate has felt – accurately or not – that spirituality has become a competition in your marriage. The spouse who struggles with faith issues needs a “safe” and gentle partner to come home to. A holier-than-thou approach is sure to deepen the divide – not only between your partner and yourself, but also between your partner and God.

4) Stay balanced. There’s no doubt about the importance of faith. But it’s possible to lose a healthy perspective when you’re worried about your spouse’s spiritual welfare. You can’t be too devoted to Christ, but overspiritualization and hyper-religiosity will hurt your efforts as much as falling into the opposite error of apathy.

5) Examine the reasons. Take time to explore and understand the underlying reasons for your spouse’s skepticism. What was his religious experience as a child? Was his faith nurtured or hindered? Was his parents’ faith real and meaningful or a hypocritical chore? The Bible is clear: we’re not authorized to judge others (Matthew 7:1). Sometimes in marriage we’re prone to judge because of what we know – or think we know – about our spouses. Only God can see the individual heart.

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Divorce – Is your marriage at risk?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Divorce is a reality for almost 50% of all couples, is your marriage at risk? Do you know the warning signs, the key life changes that stress marriages, what can you do to assess and address your risk.

Objective

Divorce is a reality for many couples that forever change the lives of the husband, wife, children and all the extended family and friends. Catholics are not immune to this and divorce also creates an issue of being able to fully take part in all parts of the Catholic faith.

We have interviewed 4 Father’s Team men (all Catholic) who have either gone through, or are going through divorce now to get some idea of what were some of the potential issues, what the men wished they could have done differently, and what they would like to have heard 2-3 years before the divorce (from a Father’s Team Meeting) that would have helped them do more to preserve the marriage.

Some of the men realize that it was really the right thing for the couple to separate, and some thought they (and their spouse) could have done more to keep the marriage together.

However, some of things that we as a Father’s Team should discuss in this topic are:

  1. Communication – what kind of discussions are you having at home?
    1. Are your conversations only about discussing logistics of kid sports and ‘what goes on the shopping list’?
    2. Instead, can you name your wives 3 best friends and confidants?
    3. Do you know the dreams and aspirations of your wife?
    4. Are you telling your female co-workers more about your life then your wife?
  2. How did your marriage start?
    1. Some of the men realized (too late) that ‘maybe’ their wives got married for the wrong reason.
    2. Some women are running ‘away’ from a situation (i.e. home life) and not running ‘toward’ something (you). Realistically, it is too late for all of us to revisit this – but again getting back to communication – do you know enough the history of your marriage – have you talked about it?
    3. This is also a great topic to be talking to our kids who are considering marriage – can you coach your kids to really understand these dynamics?
  3. Life Stage impact on our marriage – are you paying attention?
    1. Some of the men interviewed started having issues – or were told their wives wanted a divorce – when the youngest child was going off to school full time.
    2. When the youngest is 7 years old, the couples were married from 15-20 years and all of a sudden the wife’s primary role as ‘mom’ was diminished – at the same time that the man is ‘hitting his stride’ from a career standpoint.
    3. Have you talked about ‘her’ role when the heavy lifting of child care slows down?
    4. Are you hitting your stride in your career, with lots of late nights, lots of travel, promotions, and business dinners? Are you missing a critical life stage opportunity to talk?

These questions should be a topic for the men of the Father’s Team and we should all examine the health of our marriage.

Some of the other ideas volunteered by the men (besides the topics above) were:

  1. Do you talk enough about meaningful things?
  2. Do you pray together?
  3. If you are having issues – have you addressed? Did you consider a priest, our deacons, marriage counseling?
  4. There are techniques that can be used to change the negative dynamics into positive communication – would you be interested in learning new techniques (one of our Father’s may be teaching this).
  5. One of the men said in hindsight he would have – cuddled more, talked more about his day and asked her about hers, really kiss her every day, more time with her and less with kids, ask for more feedback, learn to dance, tell her I am proud of her, smile more and savor her eyes.

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians 5:25-28

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

2. Dueteronmy 24:5

‘If a man is newly married, he must not join the army, nor must he be pestered at home; he must be left at home, free of all obligations for one year, to make his new wife happy.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2385

Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2. Paragraph 2386

It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

Small Group Questions

  1. Do you see yourself in any of the 3 situations mentioned?
  2. Have you considered a serious conversation – are you brave enough to address with your wife?
  3. Could your wife be asking you for a divorce tomorrow, next week? Would you see it coming?

Recommended Resources

  1. Pre-discussion with Rich DelCore and potentially engage some of the Father’s interviewed.

Accountability

  1. This week would be a good time to start….
    1. A discussion with your wife
    2. Examine your behaviors today

Author(s)

Rich DelCore

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Sex in your Marriage: Is it as God intended or not at all?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Who can you talk to about the sex in your marriage, are you talking to your spouse about it, is your marriage healthy from a physical point of view as the church intends, have you ever wondered what’s normal for couples in their 30’s, 40’s or 50+? Join us for a discussion on this subject with a Catholic Sex Therapist – Dr. William Wester.

Objective

  • hile we all joke about sex in our marriage, for some couples, there is no sex in the relationship. One definition of a ‘sexless marriage’ is having sex less than 10 times per year. Also, surveys suggest that over 20% of couples report they are in a sexless marriage.
  • We will provide a forum for the men of the Father’s team to be able to have a discussion with their spouse about the health of their sex life and how it reflects on the overall relationship and the teachings of the church.
  • We will also again engage a Catholic Sex Therapist – Dr William Wester – to join us for the large group discussion.
  • According to the Church, humans are sexual beings whose sexual identity extends beyond the body to the mind and soul. The sexes are meant by divine design to be different and complementary, each having equal dignity and made in the image of God. The sexual act is sacred within the context of the marital relationship that reflects a complete and life-long mutual gift of a man and a woman. Sexual sins thus violate not just the body but the person’s whole being.
  • Spousal love, according to Church teaching, is meant to achieve an unbroken, twofold end: union of husband and wife as well as transmission of life. The unitive aspect includes a person’s whole being that calls spouses to grow in love and fidelity “so that they are no longer two but one flesh”. The sacrament of matrimony is viewed as God’s sealing of spousal consent to the gift of themselves to each other. Church teaching on the marital state requires spousal acceptance of each other’s failures and faults and the recognition that the “call to holiness in marriage” is one that requires a process of spiritual growth and conversion that can last throughout life.
  • Throughout Church history, various Catholic thinkers have offered differing opinions on sexual pleasure. Some saw it as sinful, while others disagreed. We are fortunate to have Pope John Paul II Theology of the body which has been discussed this summer in a 4 week session. While we plan to incorporate elements of TOTB we want to make sure we take advantage of the resources who will join us for the session (Dr Wester and Dave Shea).

How we plan to prepare for the session:

  1. We plan to prime the pump for the discussion about 3 weeks ahead of time with a handout that you can reflect on and potentially talk with your spouse. This will be some questions and dialog from Dr Wester for your consideration.
  2. For 2 weeks ahead of the session – we will pass our index cards (like we did previously) and ask you to anonymously list your questions and concerns about the health of your marriage from a sexual point of view to prepare Dr. Wester in his comments at the meeting.
  3. For the large group session – we would hope to have Dr. Wester and Dave talk about the common themes that were reflected in the card questions and provide a list of resources for your follow-up after the meeting and in small group discussion.

Bible Readings

  1. 1. Corinthians 7:1-5

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Catechism Readings

  1. Paragraph 1646

By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them.”

Small Group Questions

  1. Are you in a sexless marriage – can you use today’s topic to start a discussion with your spouse?
  2. Thinking about your marriage and the commitment with your spouse. Is your first priority what is best for her or do you put yourself and your wants first?
  3. Have you considered reading the Theology of the Body – For Beginners – Christopher West?

Recommended Resources

  1. Theology of the Body – For Beginners – Christopher West?

Accountability

This week try to find a way to talk to your spouse about taking your Marriage a Conjugal Relationship to a better level that will allow the two of you to grow even close to one another and to God.

Author(s)

Rich DelCore

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I Didn’t Know I Married My In-Laws, Too

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Who did you really marry? At the altar, the real question might be “ Do you take this woman, her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, friends and co-workers”?. What this points out then when we marry, our background and family of origin can play a significant role in the forming of the family unit. As a married couple we are called to leave our families and “become one with each other” but this is not always so easy to do.

Objective

We really are who we are. We are made up of many things that have taken place in our lives. The same is true for our wives. We are all part of our family of origin, and we bring that family of origin into our marriage and we perceive married life.

What was it like in my family growing up? Were my parents together, or divorced? Did one of my parents stay home and be the full time care giver? Did my mother work out of the house? How much time was spent with my family and was I involved or on the sidelines? Look at parenting styles, and how much they affect you and how you are raising your children. Look also at your parent’s relationships and how you may or may not mirror the interactions your parents as spouses had. The Church calls us to be exclusively for each other, but is rather silent on how this is accomplished.

Now think, your wife has the same issues. Both your wife’s and your family of origin influence you even as an adult today. How your parents and your in-laws interacted with each other, greatly affects how you and your wife also interact. For some, going back is a pleasant experience, for others, perhaps not necessarily so.

As a husband, you have married your in-laws to a certain extent. How your wife models her parents, and how she interacted with her siblings certainly will have a great impact on her relationship with you and your family. It is also important to remember that your wife has also married your parents, siblings etc. It is a two way street.

In the Bible readings and in the excerpts from the Catholic Catechism, we can see that as a married couple, we called to leave those we knew and lived with behind and move forward to creating our own family unit.

Bible Readings

1. Genesis 24

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body

2. Matthew 19:4-6

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate

3. 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5

The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another,

4. Ephesians 5: 21-33

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husband as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife, just as Christ is head of the church, himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh, but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”

This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each should love his wife as himself and the wife should respect her husband.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 372

Man and woman were made “for each other” – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones. . .”) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh”,245 they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”246 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work.247

2. Paragraph 2333

Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

3. Paragraph 2202

A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.

4. Paragraph 2364

The married couple forms “the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent.”147 Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.148 “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”149

Small Group Questions

  1. Which of us has had the most difficulty separating from our family and friends?
  2. What values and traditions in your and your wife’s family do you most enjoy and most dislike?
  3. In what ways do friends and family challenge our unity as a married couple and a family unit?
  4. Where am I in the birth order in my family and where was my wife?
  5. How is your family life the same as your family growing up and how is it different?
  6. Do you discipline the same as you were disciplined growing up?
  7. When you have troubles or questions about your marriage, who do you turn to?

Recommended Resources

  1. Fighting for your Marriage, Markham, Stanley, and Blumberg, 1994
  2. Marriage Preparation, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, used with permission

Accountability

  1. Marriage is a lot like a ski race. You are asked to race down a hill, curving and turning between the boundaries of the poles. It takes discipline and skill to navigate the course. You simply cannot spontaneously or without preparation navigate the course. Together you are creating a new pattern of poles and ski path. It is unique to your own special blending of family and personality. When it is done well and with forethought, it is exhilarating and fulfilling.

Author(s)

Jack Gauche

Included Resources

http://foryourmarriage.org/dating-engaged/marriage-readiness/family-of-origin

The term “Family of Origin” refers to the family that you grew up in – your parents and siblings. It may also include a grandparent, other relative, or divorced …

Follow-up on Deacon Dave’s presentation last week

February 16, 2012 under Meeting Materials

Attached are the questions that Deacon Dave provided surrounding “the stages of marriage.”  This would be a great thing for us to review with our wives!

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Our Relationship with our Spouses – Fighting Fair

September 7, 2011 under Syllabus 2011-2012

Summary

All married couples have arguments, or rather fights. How you fight is the key to whether or not you will have a successful, long term marriage. This Father’s Team topic will help you discover/learn this critical marital skill.

Objective

1. We’ll need to discuss the importance of fighting. Rather than avoiding conflict in marriage, we must embrace healthy conflict as a way to enjoy and love our spouse. Avoiding or denying the inevitable mix-ups of marriage only postpones having to really deal with them and grow through them.

2. Then we’ll see that resolving conflict is a balancing act. By purposefully holding back honest communication, the silent partner in marriage can stunt the growth of the relationship. The opposite characteristic – being the overly dominant spouse – also has its pitfalls. By finding appropriate balance between these extremes, we create a better marriage. More importantly, these characteristics often carry over into our relationship with God.

3. Lastly, we need to examine the role of emotional and sexual intimacy in marriage. We honor God when we consistently resolve marital conflict without letting it build into resentment. Sexual intimacy, then, stems from emotional safety in marriage.

Here are some suggested principles to guide you through the process of fighting fair:

· Emotions are nothing to avoid or be afraid of. Emotions just are. God gave them to us. Let’s celebrate them in all their messiness, complexity, joy and pain.

· Emotions are signposts that help you navigate the journey of marriage. Embrace the emotional expressions of your spouse and look for the message behind the words. What does your spouse’s anger mean about their current experience and satisfaction in marriage? Learn from these.

· You make a better marriage when you work through conflict and honestly confront emotions.

Here are some things to think about:

· Maybe you’re the spouse using words to tip the balance of power in your favor. You trample on your spouse’s feelings, self-esteem and dignity with every hurtful verbal exchange. Maybe you find yourself rationalizing your communication style by saying, “She needed to hear that,” or, “I know the truth hurts, but somebody has to tell her.” If this is you, I’d caution that there are very rare, limited cases when a married individual should take this stance of being marital judge and jury.

· Find balance in your style of managing marital conflict. Silence hurts. So does verbally lashing out. Neither is a healthy way to resolve conflict in your marriage. In extremes, both styles of resolving conflict are futile relational power-grabs. If you’re the quiet one, learn from your blabber-mouth spouse. If you’re the talker that shoots verbal darts non-stop, learn from your tight-lipped spouse. Stop doing things the way you’ve always done them, and begin looking for different results.

· Most importantly, though, don’t focus solely on the balance of power in your marriage. Focus on the balance of power between you and your Maker. Balance this scale, and the rest tends to take care of itself. Are you talking with God? Or are you the silent partner?

Here is a checklist of items to consider:

1. Don’t let little things that bother you build up until one of you explodes the issue into a large fight. That’s not fighting fair in your marriage.

2. If you are angry about something and don’t try to talk about it with your spouse within 48 hours, let it go. Otherwise, you are not fighting fair.

3. If your spouse doesn’t want to discuss the matter, set an appointment within the next 24 hours to have your fair fight. It is okay to go to bed angry. You need your sleep. Just make sure that the issue is addressed the next day.

4. Fighting fair means you know what the issue is. Then, both of you stick to the subject.

5. Keep your fight between the two of you. Don’t bring in third parties like your mother-in-law, his best friend, or your children.

6. Fighting fair means you don’t bring up past history.

7. Fighting fair means no name calling. Even endearing terms and pet names can be hurtful when you are using a sarcastic tone.

8. Be careful how you use humor. Laughter is good, but teasing can be misinterpreted and can be hurtful.

9. Listen to one another fully while you fight. This includes watching body language. Look at one another while you speak.

10. Don’t interrupt during your fight.

11. Fighting fair means you don’t blame one another make accusations.

12. Try to use ‘I’ sentences instead of ‘you’ sentences.

13. Be open to asking for forgiveness and being willing to forgive.

Bible Readings

1. Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.

2. Ecclesiastes 3:7

A time to rend, and a time to sew: a time to be silent and a time to speak.

3. Ephesians 4:25-26

Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin, do not let the sun set on your anger.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1638

“From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.”

Small Group Questions

1. Examine your last ‘fight’ with your spouse – what role did you play – aggressor or silent?

2. This is not the first time we have talked this topic – what steps have you put into place to ‘fight fair’?

Recommended Resources

Focus on the Family – http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication_and_conflict/fighting_fair.aspx

About.com – Marriage – http://marriage.about.com/cs/conflictandanger/ht/fightfair.htm

Accountability

1. This week would be a good time to have a discussion with your spouse about how you fight.

2. Think about addressing this as you are ‘developing’ your children in the way you and your spouse interact

Author(s)

Rich Delcore

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Stages of Marriage

September 7, 2011 under Syllabus 2011-2012

Summary

This week’s topic should help every man understand where he and his spouse are in their “stage” of marriage. Deacon Dave Shea will reprise this discussion to help the men of Father’s team get the most out their marriage.

Objective

This topic will help all the Father’s – no matter what stage of marriage they are in, Newly Married, Middle Years or Later Years) understand the issues and opportunities that we face as men in our marriages. Each stage brings new challenges and Dave will help us recognize our stage and then be able to talk with our spouses about how to make the most out of our marriages.

Newly Married

· The first five years can be exhilarating as couples experience new “firsts” together- their first Christmas as a married couple, first dinner party for the in-laws, even their first joint tax return. At the same time, the early years require personal adjustment, which is stressful on the relationship.

· Sometimes it’s poor choice of partner. Couples who entered enthusiastically- but blindly- into marriage soon see their spouse’s shadow side when there’s no longer a need to keep up a good front. They realize that they married a person who doesn’t share the remote, likes to chatter in the morning or, worse yet, doesn’t share their values.

· Others fall prey to the stresses of early marriage. Some of these stresses might be age-related. Young couples may not have developed the emotional maturity, coping and communication skills, or financial savvy to navigate the many decisions thrust upon them early in their marriage. Hanging in and learning the art of negotiating can resolve these issues, but it takes maturity and patience.

· Help is available if the couple has the wisdom and humility to seek it. The most important thing to remember is that most of the early stressful adjustments in marriage are normal. Beyond leaving the the toilet seat up or down, what are the important issues that need to be negotiated?

· According to research done by the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University (2000) the top three issues for couples during the first five years of marriage are time, sex, and money:

Middle Years

· For most couples, parenting is the most distinctive feature of this stage. It may be compared to the middle years of childhood (ages 5-12), which is sometimes called the latency stage. Although the child continues to grow, this growth tends to be steady and without significant turmoil.

· Some couples-the “sandwich” generation-find themselves taking care of children plus aging parents. Meanwhile, their marriage and personal needs may be pushed into the background, unless a crisis erupts. Couples in the middle stage of marriage often must renegotiate household, financial, and parenting tasks. The stress of these multiple adjustments helps explain why the marriage satisfaction rate drops significantly for parents with young children.

· While rearing children can unite parents in a common venture, it also changes the marriage irreversibly. There is more to argue about and less time for conversation, play and sexual intimacy.

· During the teen years, parents generally find that they need more emotional than physical energy. Parents stress out over how strict or lenient they should be with their teens. Parents begin to lose control over their teens, but they still bear the responsibility of parenting without the rewards of children who look up to them as if they walked on water. Marital dissatisfaction decreases significantly for most couples during the teen years.

· Couples who do not have children have their own issues to deal with. They may want children and have been dealing with infertility. If many of their friends have children they may they feel left out. They may be so consumed with career or extended family obligations that their marriage relationship has become stale.

Later Years

· The later years includes the blissful “empty-nest” season of a marriage that can feel like a second honeymoon. Many couples welcome their new freedom,” while others have a hard time letting go. Sometimes a couple who happily thought they were in the empty-nest stage are faced with a boomerang young adult who again needs their care, presence, home, and perhaps babysitting services. The later years can also bring major health issues and the gradual loss of abilities.

· Second marriage couples enter the later years of their lives but it’s the early years of their marriage. Men and women who marry after a divorce or death of a spouse, or after waiting for the right person, experience in their later years some of the same adjustments of young marrieds.

· Issues of diminishing health, grief over peers dying, and significant blocks of togetherness time are common. Thus, the wife who married her husband “for better or for worse, but not for lunch together!” becomes a poignant cliché.

· How do couples re-negotiate their relationship to take into account their new freedom, increased time together, possibly decreased income, and fading health and energy? Some do it with grace because over the years they’ve learned the marital dance of flexibility and tolerance. Some complain a lot, about life, each other, about the weather.

· Some may want to complain but know that’s not very endearing. Yet they struggle with letting go of the old patterns and roles of their life together. For these couples, the desire to let go with grace may be enough motivation to:

· Attend a marriage enrichment program geared especially to older couples

· Explore new hobbies and interests together

· Volunteer with their church, community, or other good causes that would benefit from their experience

· Deepen their spirituality to help them deal with the losses and limitations of later life

· Forgive others’ faults and drop long-held grudges

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians 5:22-25

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1660

The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 § 1; cf. GS 48 § 1).

Small Group Questions

1. Look at the stages of marriage described in the lesson – where are you and your spouse?

2. What are you doing to get the most out of the stage of marriage today?

Recommended Resources

1. Stages of Marriage – Catholic conference of Bishops http://foryourmarriage.org/everymarriage/stages-of-marriage/

2. Five Stages of Marriage – http://www.songtime.com/sbc/sbcfivestagesofmarriage.htm

Accountability

1. When you go home today – initiate a discussion with your wife about what stage of marriage you are in and how you are dealing with the issues associated with that phase.

Author

Rich Delcore

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Ten Secrets for a Happy, Lasting Marriage

September 22, 2010 under Meeting Materials

 

Linked below are the handouts from the “How’s your marriage?  The real men of IHM respond” meeting.

 

 

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