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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How Do You Make Your Spouse Feel Appreciated?

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

Whether it has been one year or fifty since your wedding, what are you doing to let the awesome person you married know that you appreciate them? Routine is a good thing, but making your wife feel special is a GREAT thing and everyone likes to feel appreciated. Get your creative juices flowing and demonstrate to your wife how special she is!

Objective

A majority of the problems that occur in a marriage can be attributed to the fact that one or both partners feel unappreciated. Boredom with the relationship, jealousy, nagging and a general sense of discontent are marriage relationship problems that find their roots in a sense of not being appreciated. Your goal as a husband is to realize this, then take action. Improve your marriage relationship “by doing” and let your wife know she is appreciated by you.

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians 5:25-30

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.

2. Colossians 3:19

Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1639

The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society.” The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”

Small Group Questions

1. What is something unique that you have done that made your spouse feel appreciated?

2. What are the root causes that may make your wife to feel unappreciated by you?

3. What will you do in the next week to show your wife she is appreciated by you?

Recommended Resources

1. 10 Ways to Love Your Spouse http://www.simplecatholicliving.com/reflections/10-ways-to-love-your-spouse

2. Do You Tell Your Wife That You Appreciate Her? http://respectedhusband.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/do-you-tell-your-wife-that-you-appreciate-her/

Accountability

1. Do one thing for your wife this week that she will be able to tell her friends about that you have never done before. Complement her in front of others!

2. Investigate and search fun things going on in town and recommend that the two of you need to make a plan to attend or participate.

3. Secretly do a chore around the house you have never done and see if anyone notices.

Author(s)

Reid Rooney

Included Resources

1. The 5 Step Secret to making your wife Feel Appreciated

Step 1 Understanding: Although you cannot make anyone 100% happy, you can do your part in making your wife feel special and appreciated. The wife (like the husband) has a unique and key role in the marital partnership. If she feels abandoned, neglected, or otherwise unappreciated it will be difficult for her to maintain that positive ambiance.

Step 2 Show Direct Appreciation: Women need the small things that may be easily overlooked. A phone call in the middle of the day for no reason; fresh flower arrangements; date night; unexpected tokens of affection, etc. Keep note of her interests and use them to personalize your surprises i.e. if she’s dieting do not get her chocolates.

Step 3 Acknowledgement: You may not understand her emotional needs but you definitely need to acknowledge them. Take the time to actively listen to her. Be the initiator of conversations. Be nonjudgmental with your opinions.

Step 4 Pick your Battles: Let the small things pass. Arguing or a domineering attitude will only fester and eventually poison the love you share. If it irritates you that she isn’t the best housekeeper, try to hire help or help clean up when you have time. Remember that you are not perfect either. Was it her laugh you fell in love with or her clean kitchen?

Step 5 Tell her you love her everyday. Tell others you love her. Hearing it and saying it will keep the love alive. Love is a chain reaction. The more love you give the more love you receive.

2. Other ideas to show direct Appreciation to your wife:

Acts of service.

Doing something special for your wife is an easy and free way to show your appreciation. A foot rub after a long day of work would be greatly appreciated. Use some scented lotion for a bit of aromatherapy as well. Clean the house! Coming home to a messy house can be very stressful. If you are home during the day on a weekend, keeping the house clean shows your appreciation for the hard work your wife does.

Making your spouse’s favorite meal or dessert on an ordinary day is a terrific way to make her feel special, especially if you don’t make it very often. Or make something new for dinner to try together; the same old things can get boring after a while.

Whatever your spouse’s job around the house is, give her a day off. Who wouldn’t feel special and enjoy not having to do a chore? Folding the laundry, doing the dishes for once and let your spouse enjoy a little well-deserved rest.

Offer a massage. Don’t do it because you want one in return. Don’t wait until your wife asks. Just offer one to show that you really enjoy the act of touching the person that you’re in a love with.

Treats and Surprises.

A simple and inexpensive way to surprise your wife with a treat is to pick up her favorite treats at the grocery store. Then you can sneak them into a her purse or computer bag for your wife to find and enjoy at work or out running errands. Or leave a treat on the pillow or nightstand, or in a coat pocket.

Leave your spouse alone to do a hobby, with no strings attached. She is probably tired of hearing you complain when she is watching TV while the laundry is not done. Let her have a night off to do her own thing, and don’t be looking over her shoulder. Or your wife might enjoy a night out

Show your appreciation.

If your spouse works hard at a job, thank her for working hard for you and your family. A simple thank you can mean a lot. Send an “I love you” text message, or leave a message on your spouse’s voicemail. If your spouse travels out of town on business, write love notes and hide them in the luggage. Put one in her purse, in reading materials, tucked in a shoe etc. You could even have the kids write notes, or draw pictures so your wife will know how much she will be missed by you and your family. Hiding love notes around the house works just as well.

Say thank you.

It turns out that it’s the little things that count. Mom and Dad probably taught you that you’re supposed to say thanks when someone does something nice for you but you may have picked up their bad habits of failing to say it to one another. Don’t take anything that your wife does for you for granted.

Create an appreciation scrapbook.

Take the time to sit down and put together a list of all of the things that you appreciate about your wife. Go through magazines and find images that go along with each item. Use these images to create pages for a scrapbook that depicts the things that you appreciate. Your wife will appreciate this gift for a long time.

Try to notice the small things.

The small haircut that she got on the way home from the store or the new seasoning that was used on a meal are all really small things but noticing them goes a long way towards making your wife feel like you’re actually paying attention and appreciating what you’ve got.

Do things that your wife likes.

When figuring out what you want to do over the weekend, consider trying things that you don’t love but you know your wife really enjoys. It won’t kill you to sit through a chick flick and it will make your wife feel appreciated.

The Husband does not feel appreciated by his wife.

In some cases, the husband may often wish that his wife would do things to show us that we are appreciated. Try to think in the reverse instead; make an effort to show your wife that you’re appreciative of the marriage. This will improve things drastically and probably produce the results that you as a husband are looking for.

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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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Shared Dreams

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

You might have dreams. Your wife might have dreams. But do they align? More importantly, do you have some common dreams?

Objective

We got married, bought a house, got a job, had children, etc. and started to do what we had to do every day. We became doers instead of dreamers. Perhaps we need to make time to dream again. Perhaps we need to take time to go beyond our daily routine. A relationship without goals (dreams) or a common vision is subject entirely to external influences, regardless of whether they are desirable or not. Developing dreams as a couple ensures that you always have something common to work towards.

Assess the state of the dreams we have (if any) with our wives. Share a process to help explore, develop, and pursue our shared dreams.

Bible Readings

1. 1 Kings 3:5-15

5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you. 6 Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. 7 Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— 8 I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request. 11 So God said to him: Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right— 12 I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you. 13 In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days. 14 And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life. 15 Solomon awoke; it was a dream! He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants.

2. Luke 14:28-33

28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? 29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ 31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.

3. Philippians 3:12-16

12 It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. 13 Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1605

Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Small Group Questions

1. Do you have individual dreams? Does your wife have dreams?

2. Do you have shared dreams? If so, how did you develop them?

3. How do you review and update your dreams?

Recommended Resources

1. The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly

2. http://www.simplemarriage.net/dream-together.html

3. http://www.goalsettingstrategies.com/goals_for_marriages.html

4. http://marriageisacommitment.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/goals-in-marriage-why-bother/

5. http://www.maritalmediation.com/2011/10/tips-for-setting-goals-with-your-spouse/

Accountability

1. Set aside some time this week to plan a “dream sharing” meeting with your wife.

Author(s)

Steve Frazer (updated from material from Walt Moll, Tony Heekin, & Sean Mullarkey)

Included Resources

Why are Dreams important to me and my wife?

What are your dreams? What are your wife’s dreams? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you have a great opportunity to know yourself and your wife better. Dreams are invisible but powerful. You cannot see them but they keep everything going. Your life may not be easier when you are actively dreaming, but it will be more exciting when you include your dreams in your daily routines.

The heart of every marriage is rooted in communications. When you and your wife have open communications your marriage has the fabric to be strong, happy, and exciting.

To paraphrase Matthew Kelly’s terminology, to be the best version of yourself, and to have the best version of your marriage, get beyond your daily routine. A great way to get beyond your daily routine is to tap into your individual and shared dreams.

So if we are looking for a great way to open additional doors for communications with our wives it seems sharing our dreams is made to order to do just that.

How do I share my dreams?

The first step to initiate sharing dreams with your wife is to get a Dream Book. This is a notebook dedicated to recording and following up on your individual and shared dreams.

Now that you have your Dream Book take some time to write your dreams in the book. You might find it easier to write individually at fires and then discuss your individual dreams. When it comes to your shared dreams, you will probably want to meet together to talk about your dreams as you record them. Organize your Dream Book to meet your needs as a couple.

The most important step is to write your dreams. The process of writing and sharing your dreams helps to make them real, and achievable. To help a new dreamer get started Matthew Kelly suggested these categories.

Physical 5. Psychological 9. Creative

Emotional 6. Material 10. Adventure

Intellectual 7. Professional 11. Legacy

Spiritual 8. Financial 12. Character

Remember, nothing is too wild or wonderful. There are no limitations.

Now that you are meeting with your wife, sharing your dreams; you’ll need to do some prioritization to help you focus on the dreams you agree are most important now. Be sure and schedule your next dreaming meeting as a part of each session.

The process of writing, discussing, and prioritizing your dreams will provide the additional communications SHARED DREAMS promised.

Our Dreams help make us great!

“Never underestimate the power of your dreams and the power of the human spirit.
The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph (Olympic Gold Medalist)

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
– Anatole France

“A person is not old until their regrets take the place of their dreams.”
–  John Barrymore

“When you write things down, they sometimes take you places you hadn’t planned.”
– Melanie Benjamin
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

“I once had a dream, or should I say, my dream once had me.” –
– Beatles

Here is a form that might help bring dreams to reality. Once you have a dream prioritized as important, you and your wife might take the time to complete this detailed plan.

Dream Detail

What do you want to accomplish? Be specific.

What is the schedule? Set a deadline.

What is the estimated cost?

What action steps do you need to take?

1-

2-

3-

4-

5-

To keep yourself on track remember, why is this relevant?

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Empty Nesting – How do you deal with the children moving on?

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Have your children all gone off to college or moved away for a new career? Perhaps you’re a stay at home parent and you’re sending your last one off to all day school. Changes to the household can be a big change for a parent. You may be spending more time with just the two of you, or have a lot of time alone. How do you prepare yourself for these life changes?

Objective

A lot of the older fathers on the team have experienced or will soon experience an empty house from children going off to college or moving away for work. This can present some wonderful opportunities for you and your wife to get closer. It can also present an awkward silence in the house, bored spouse, and conflict. How do you prepare yourself for a different life-style when you’re so used to being a parent and all that it entails when children are around?

Fathers team has a lot of younger fathers as well, who may be bored by a session dominated by older fathers talking about something they’re far from relating to. However, younger fathers can experience the same issues when all of the children are finally off to school and a stay at home parent is alone for much of the day. Sometimes that’s a blessing! Sometimes that can present a change for one of the parents that we have to deal with.

Use this session to discuss both “empty nesting” and major changes at home related to these life changes.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 19:13-15

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

2. Matthew 19:23-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

3. Mark 10:6-9

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. 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.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33

2. Paragraph 2230

When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them – quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

Small Group Questions

  1. Have you experienced an empty nest from children going off to college or moving away? How did you deal with it? Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. Are you in touch with your wife enough to deal with family changes?
  3. Have you experience the last child off to all day school and the changes that brings?
  4. Are there other major changes in your family life that have led to you and your wife needing to adapt and grow?

Accountability

  1. If you have older children, start thinking about how you and your wife will deal with the changes.
  2. If you have a stay at home parent, how can you prepare for the last child off to all day school?

Author(s)

Dan Lape

Included Resources

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/empty-nest-syndrome/MY01976/

Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping

If your last child is all grown up and about to leave home — or he or she has already moved out — you might be experiencing some mixed emotions. Understand why empty nest syndrome happens and what you can do about it.

What’s empty nest syndrome and why do some parents experience it?

Empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis. Instead, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home.

Although you might actively encourage your children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful. You might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need your care. You might miss being a part of your children’s daily lives — as well as the constant companionship. You might also worry intensely about your children’s safety and whether they’ll be able to take care of themselves on their own. You might struggle with the transition if your last child leaves the nest a little earlier or later than you expected — or at a time different from when you did. If you have only one child or strongly identify with your role as parent, you might have a particularly difficult time adjusting to an empty nest.

What’s the impact of empty nest syndrome?

In the past, research suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts.

However, recent studies suggest that an empty nest can also provide parents with many benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time.

How can I cope with empty nest syndrome?

If you’re experiencing feelings of loss due to empty nest syndrome, take action. For example:

Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own personal experience. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts or video chats. Seek support. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider. Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?

If your last child is about to leave home and you’re worried about empty nest syndrome, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping busy or taking on new challenges at work or at home can help ease the sense of loss that your child’s departure might cause.

http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/wiley031/00009169.pdf

RESURVEYING EMPTY NEST ISSUES

Issues and problems in marriage cause you neither success nor failure; it’s how you deal with them that makes a difference, especially in the empty nest. When you are no longer meeting the demands of active parenting, issues will resurface and perhaps loom larger on the landscape of your marriage. So what are those major issues you’ll take with you into the empty nest?

Consider the top ten issues in an empty nest survey taken, number one being the most severe problem area, number two, the next most severe problem, and so on:

Top Issues in the Empty Nest Years

1. Conflict

2. Communication

3. Sex

4. Health

5. Fun

6. Recreation

7. Money

8. Aging parents

9. Retirement planning

10. Children

The top three issues in the empty nest-conflict, communication, and sex-are also among the major problem areas for younger couples. People take their issues along as they transition through the different seasons of a marriage. We observed no overall gender differences that were very strong. However, females tended to say communication was more of a problem than did males, and males tended to say that sex was more of a problem than females reported. (Are you surprised?)

At this stage of life, money issues are not rated as high as for younger couples, but health issues are rated higher. The fact that fun and recreation are rated so high indicates that perhaps couples are having trouble figuring out what to do together that’s enjoyable for both or finding fun things that both will take time out for. For years their shared recreational activities may have been centered around their children, and now they don’t know what to do to have fun together.

How would you rank these issues in your marriage? Think about your relationship: with which issues do you struggle the most?

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Shared Dreams and Communications

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

What are Dreams?

Remember when you were kids, young adults, and you could spend hours on the phone with your sweetheart talking about nothing in particular? Perhaps that was a form of dreaming.

But then we finished school, got married, bought a house, got a job, had children, etc. and started to do what we had to do every day. We became doers instead of dreamers. Perhaps we need to make time to dream again. Perhaps we need to take time to go beyond our daily routine. Perhaps it’s time for you and your wife to open/reopen these creative channels in your lives. These areas that take you beyond the everyday can be defined as “Dreams”.

Objective

To emphasize the importance of of making shared plans with your spouse. Before you know it you will be looking at an empty nest. Don’t wait until then to talk about your plans.

Bible Readings

1. Kings 3:5-15

“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered… ‘Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’ The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.”

2. Luke 14:28-33

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. …

Additional Information

Why are Dreams important to me and my wife?

What are your dreams? What are your wife’s dreams? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you have a great opportunity to know yourself and your wife better. Dreams are invisible but powerful. You cannot see them but they keep everything going. Your life may not be easier when you are actively dreaming, but it will be more exciting when you include your dreams in your daily routines.

The heart of every marriage is rooted in communications. When you and your wife have open communications your marriage has the fabric to be strong, happy, and exciting.

To paraphrase Matthew Kelly’s terminology, to be the best version of yourself, and to have the best version of your marriage, get beyond your daily routine. A great way to get beyond your daily routine is to tap into your individual and shared dreams.

So if we are looking for a great way to open additional doors for communications with our wives it seems sharing our dreams is made to order to do just that.

How do I share my dreams?

The first step to initiate sharing dreams with your wife is to get a Dream Book. This is a notebook dedicated to recording and following up on your individual and shared dreams.

Now that you have your Dream Book take some time to write your dreams in the book. You might find it easier to write individually at fires and then discuss your individual dreams. When it comes to your shared dreams, you will probably want to meet together to talk about your dreams as you record them. Organize your Dream Book to meet your needs as a couple.

The most important step is to write your dreams. The process of writing and sharing your dreams helps to make them real, and achievable. To help a new dreamer get started Matthew Kelly suggested these categories.

1. Physical 5. Psychological 9. Creative

2. Emotional 6. Material 10. Adventure

3. Intellectual 7. Professional 11. Legacy

4. Spiritual 8. Financial 12. Character

Remember, nothing is too wild or wonderful. There are no limitations.

Now that you are meeting with your wife, sharing your dreams; you’ll need to do some prioritization to help you focus on the dreams you agree are most important now. Be sure and schedule your next dreaming meeting as a part of each session.

The process of writing, discussing, and prioritizing your dreams will provide the additional communications SHARED DREAMS promised.

Our Dreams help make us great!

“Never underestimate the power of your dreams and the power of the human spirit.
The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph (Olympic Gold Medalist)

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
– Anatole France

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…..
(You’ve Got Mail)

The dreams of people may differ, but everyone wants their dreams to come true.
Not everybody aspires to be a bank president or a nuclear scientist,
but everybody wants to do something with their life that will give them pride and a sense of accomplishment.
And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.
We have the freedom to reach out and make our dreams come true.
– Ronald Reagan

“When you have a really great dream, get up and go for it.”
– Larry Page

“It’s never too late to accomplish your dreams.”
– Jim Morris (The Rookie)

“A person is not old until their regrets take the place of their dreams.”
–  John Barrymore

“When you write things down, they sometimes take you places you hadn’t planned.”
– Melanie Benjamin
Write down your dream, make your bucket list,
follow through.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Dare to dream the impossible. Work your dreams into reality

“I once had a dream, or should I say, my dream once had me.” –
– Beatles

Here is a form that might help bring dreams to reality. Once you have a dream prioritized as important, you and your wife might take the time to complete this detailed plan.

Dream Detail

What do you want to accomplish? Be specific.

What is the schedule? Set a deadline.

What is the estimated cost?

What action steps do you need to take?

1-

2-

3-

4-

5-

To keep yourself on track remember, why is this relevant?

Small Group Questions

  1. Do you discuss your plans and dreams with your spouse on a regular basis?

Accountability

  1. The first step to initiate sharing dreams with your wife is to get a Dream Book. This is a notebook dedicated to recording and following up on your individual and shared dreams.

Author

Walt Moll & Tony Heekin

Recommended Resources

Reference: The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly

http://www.simplemarriage.net/dream-together.html

http://www.goalsettingstrategies.com/goals_for_marriages.html

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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 …

How Do You Make Your Spouse Feel Appreciated?

August 19, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Whether it has been one year or fifty since your wedding, what are you doing to let the awesome person you married know that you appreciate them? Routine is a good thing, but making someone feel special is a GREAT thing and everyone likes to feel appreciated. Get your creative juices flowing and demonstrate to your wife how special she is!

Objective

A majority of the problems that occur in a marriage can be attributed to the fact that one or both partners feel unappreciated. Boredom with the relationship, jealousy, nagging and a general sense of discontent are marriage relationship problems that find their roots in a sense of not being appreciated. Your goal as a husband is to realize this, then take action. Improve your marriage relationship “by doing” and let your wife know she is appreciated by you.

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians 5:25-30

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.

2. Colossians 3:19

Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1639

The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society.” The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”

Small Group Questions

  1. What is something unique that you have done that made your spouse feel appreciated?
  2. What are the root causes that may make your wife to feel unappreciated by you?
  3. What will you do in the next week to show your wife she is appreciated by you?

Recommended Resources

  1. Husbands, sons, priests – my plea to you to not ruin Mother’s Day…
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat/2012/05/husbands-sons-priests-my-plea-to-you-to-not-ruin-mothers-day.html
  2. 10 Ways to Love Your Spouse http://www.simplecatholicliving.com/reflections/10-ways-to-love-your-spouse

Accountability

  1. Do one thing for your wife this week that she will be able to tell her friends about that you have never done before.
  2. Investigate and search fun things going on in town and recommend that the two of you need to make a plan to attend or participate.
  3. Secretly do a chore around the house you have never done and see if anyone notices.

Author(s)

Reid Rooney

Included Resources

1. The 5 Step Secret to making your wife Feel Appreciated

Step 1 Understanding: Although you cannot make anyone 100% happy, you can do your part in making your wife feel special and appreciated. The wife (like the husband) has a unique and key role in the marital partnership. If she feels abandoned, neglected, or otherwise unappreciated it will be difficult for her to maintain that positive ambiance.

Step 2 Show Direct Appreciation: Women need the small things that may be easily overlooked. A phone call in the middle of the day for no reason; fresh flower arrangements; date night; unexpected tokens of affection, etc. Keep note of her interests and use them to personalize your surprises i.e. if she’s dieting do not get her chocolates.

Step 3 Acknowledgement: You may not understand her emotional needs but you definitely need to acknowledge them. Take the time to actively listen to her. Be the initiator of conversations. Be nonjudgmental with your opinions.

Step 4 Pick your Battles: Let the small things pass. Arguing or a domineering attitude will only fester and eventually poison the love you share. If it irritates you that she isn’t the best housekeeper, try to hire help or help clean up when you have time. Remember that you are not perfect either. Was it her laugh you fell in love with or her clean kitchen?

Step 5 Tell her you love her everyday. Tell others you love her. Hearing it and saying it will keep the love alive. Love is a chain reaction. The more love you give the more love you receive.

2. Other ideas to show direct Appreciation to your wife:

Acts of service.

Doing something special for your wife is an easy and free way to show your appreciation. A foot rub after a long day of work would be greatly appreciated. Use some scented lotion for a bit of aromatherapy as well. Clean the house! Coming home to a messy house can be very stressful. If you are home during the day on a weekend, keeping the house clean shows your appreciation for the hard work your wife does.

Making your spouse’s favorite meal or dessert on an ordinary day is a terrific way to make her feel special, especially if you don’t make it very often. Or make something new for dinner to try together; the same old things can get boring after a while.

Whatever your spouse’s job around the house is, give her a day off. Who wouldn’t feel special and enjoy not having to do a chore? Folding the laundry, doing the dishes for once and let your spouse enjoy a little well-deserved rest.

Offer a massage. Don’t do it because you want one in return. Don’t wait until your wife asks. Just offer one to show that you really enjoy the act of touching the person that you’re in a love with.

Treats and Surprises.

A simple and inexpensive way to surprise your wife with a treat is to pick up her favorite treats at the grocery store. Then you can sneak them into a her purse or computer bag for your wife to find and enjoy at work or out running errands. Or leave a treat on the pillow or nightstand, or in a coat pocket.

Leave your spouse alone to do a hobby, with no strings attached. She is probably tired of hearing you complain when she is watching TV while the laundry is not done. Let her have a night off to do her own thing, and don’t be looking over her shoulder. Or your wife might enjoy a night out

Show your appreciation.

If your spouse works hard at a job, thank her for working hard for you and your family. A simple thank you can mean a lot. Send an “I love you” text message, or leave a message on your spouse’s voicemail. If your spouse travels out of town on business, write love notes and hide them in the luggage. Put one in her purse, in reading materials, tucked in a shoe etc. You could even have the kids write notes, or draw pictures so your wife will know how much she will be missed by you and your family. Hiding love notes around the house works just as well.

Say thank you.

It turns out that it’s the little things that count. Mom and Dad probably taught you that you’re supposed to say thanks when someone does something nice for you but you may have picked up their bad habits of failing to say it to one another. Don’t take anything that your wife does for you for granted.

Create an appreciation scrapbook.

Take the time to sit down and put together a list of all of the things that you appreciate about your wife. Go through magazines and find images that go along with each item. Use these images to create pages for a scrapbook that depicts the things that you appreciate. Your wife will appreciate this gift for a long time.

Try to notice the small things.

The small haircut that she got on the way home from the store or the new seasoning that was used on a meal are all really small things but noticing them goes a long way towards making your wife feel like you’re actually paying attention and appreciating what you’ve got.

Do things that your wife likes.

When figuring out what you want to do over the weekend, consider trying things that you don’t love but you know your wife really enjoys. It won’t kill you to sit through a chick flick and it will make your wife feel appreciated.

The Husband does not feel appreciated by his wife.

In some cases, the husband may often wish that his wife would do things to show us that we are appreciated. Try to think in the reverse instead; make an effort to show your wife that you’re appreciative of the marriage. This will improve things drastically and probably produce the results that you as a husband are looking for.

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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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