"Big Four" Highlights


 

Marriage Tips

FFG readers offer advice to engaged couples

Fathers for Good asked married readers to provide some practical advice for engaged couples. Here is a sampling of comments, with the names withheld.

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Just remember that no matter how much you love this person and how perfect they appear, they too are human and will disappoint you because they are not God. Only God can carry the weight of all your expectations. I would add, that particularly for women who go through a lot emotionally and physically with bearing and raising children, learn to not rely so much on your emotions, but what you know to be true about your spouse. Fatigue, exhaustion, frustration and anxiety can easily cloud all the reasons why you picked this man to be your spouse and the father of your children.

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My advice to engaged people for a healthy marriage is to keep their priorities straight.  To have a happy life together priorities must be:

1. God
2. Marriage
3. Children
4. Career
5. Everything Else

A happy life must primarily focus on God as our loving Father. He is our creator who loves us unconditionally. We need to turn to him daily for help in life. Without God, we cannot survive.  

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The major mistake that many men make is they put their careers first. The major mistake many women make is they put their children first. While initially this may not seem like a problem, we eventually retire from our careers and our children grow up. Keep in mind, marriage is for life. This doesn't mean we neglect our children; however, as we nurture a happy marriage, we will also be nurturing healthy children. Happy children come from happy marriages. Plus, you will be providing your children with healthy role models for marriage. This will help them when they are seeking a spouse.


Some people may still object to placing their children third in their lives. Think of it this way – if you have 100 things on your list of priorities, your children are in the top three!

Regarding your career, we know that when things are going well at home, people are happier and more productive at work. Having a healthy marriage can actually help you in your career. Even if your career may seem boring and mundane, it’s easier to deal with the daily grind when you know you are coming home to a loving spouse and children!

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A healthy marriage requires sacrificial self-giving. For most people this is not a burden. When you truly love someone and are committed to serving them, you don’t mind putting them ahead of yourself. For some people, though, this leads to neglecting themselves. To love and serve others, we need to take care of ourselves so that we can serve them most effectively. It’s important to understand that true happiness comes from making God #1 in your life and serving others. This results in a satisfying life filled with meaning and purpose.

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Marriage is a beautiful gift from God. It is a holy union where two become one. It is not a contract that is entered into, but rather a covenant relationship whereby a man and a woman, husband and wife, promise to love one another for the rest of their lives. And that love is a sacrificial love. It is not based on a feeling, but rather a decision to love each other each day, to sacrifice, and to live for the other. And the more we live for the other, the more we love the other, the closer we become.  

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In this world of social media, we often get caught up in thinking of our lives as those moments we can post. Marriage is so much more. It is all the little moments and big moments and moments we do not even think about that create a life and turn two people into a truly united couple. Remember to give the time and concern to the moments that won't be posted for the world to see. It is often those times that create the strongest bonds.

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One thing I would suggest for engaged couples is to have concrete rules and boundaries about the use of technology. I would even suggest to take time to reflect on the purpose and effects of technology in people’s lives. My husband found that just having wi-fi at home and mobile phones sometimes means looking at our phone constantly, being distracted with the tasks at hand, and not giving 100% to our children. We like the rule of not using the cell phone in our bedroom, to not have the cell phone constantly with us at home. We even do not answer the phone at certain times, such as mealtimes or close to bedtime for the children.

I think it’s more than just rules, but also the formation of patience and willpower.  It is so hard not to do something that is so very easy and convenient to do. It’s good for us as a couple, to learn about fasting in this way. What a great way to cultivate chastity in our children, too, when they learn to wait for a good time to do things, or when they see how we give them real love and attention when we are with them. It’s a great way to help form little saints.

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There were times I’d felt jealous of the use of technology in our bedroom. My husband and I are together, but he’s on his phone the whole time. It can get to the point that technology can almost turn into the “other” in the room. You’re talking to your spouse, asking if they love you, and they are giving you only some of themselves because they’ve reserved a big part of themselves to being “connected” virtually. It has been a very trying matter for our marriage, which is why I would ask couples to really talk about this beforehand.   

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My advice for an engaged couple would be to establish a daily prayer life together. It is so important to pray together as an engaged couple and develop a habit of this that will carry into your marriage and sustain you through hard times. It is important to go to Mass together on Sundays and if possible, attend a Holy Hour each week. Spiritual reading together is also a great idea. Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen was key during our engagement. We also read Familiaris Consortio by John Paul II. If offered by the diocese, I advise the couple attend an engagement retreat. Our retreat in San Antonio was such a great growth opportunity for us. Also, I recommend that the couple sets aside time in which wedding details are not discussed. It is so easy to get consumed by the wedding day and to put the marriage focus on the back burner. It is important to focus on the relationship and spend time together as a couple.