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We enter marriage blissfully, sometimes blindly, always with hope. Most couples go into marriage with high expectations and a strong attraction to each other. This is good and necessary. A vocation as difficult as marriage needs this idealism and emotional bond to help the couple weather the inevitable storms that will follow.

But we don't all have to make the same mistakes. Over the generations we've learned a lot about what keeps marriages strong.

One of the beauties of marriage is that it can be a purifying commitment. No one knows you as well as your spouse and it is through this intimate knowledge that your strengths and weaknesses are reflected back to you. This can be scary and discouraging at times because honesty can be harsh. With a gentle touch and unfailing forgiveness, however, it can be a unique path to mutual holiness.

Note to Pastoral Ministers and Marriage Leaders:
Go to Leadership for information about

Marriage Ministry Made Easy

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MARRIAGE WORKSHOPS
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MARRYING RIGHT – Is This the Right Life Partner for Me?

RECAPTURING ROMANCE IN MARRIAGE

BECOMING SOUL MATES – Nurturing Marital Spirituality

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING RIGHT – Personality Differences in Marriage

BEYOND TALKING TO UNDERSTANDING – Communication Skills in Marriage


HUMOR IN MARRIAGE – It's More Than Telling Jokes


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MARRIAGE ARTICLES
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MAKING LOVE ON A BUDGET
A few ideas to get you started on creating your own unique dates.

WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
Wedding ceremony challenges for Catholic weddings.

WHO ME?...PRAY WITH HER?
Down to earth questions and answers about praying as a couple

HOW DO I HURT THEE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
A reflection piece on how to annoy one's spouse; and how to stop.

HOW TO CHANGE THE ONE YOU LOVE
Change yourself.

QUALITIES OF A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
Background and Reflections

TILL DEATH DO US PART
Is it possible today?

EXERCISES & ACTIVITIES FOR COUPLES
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52 WEEKS OF CREATIVE DATES

BONDING AS A COUPLE - Sharing Feelings

SHARING DREAMS - Making Commitments

WHEN WE DISAGREE

HOW DO I KNOW THEE?

COMMUNICATION CHECK-UP

COUPLE FUN

I FEEL LOVED WHEN…

VALUES & SPIRITUALITY

HUMOR & MARRIAGE

THE PINCH (Dealing with annoying habits)

IF I'VE TOLD YOU ONCE, I'VE TOLD YOU A 1000 TIMES

HOW WELL CAN YOU READ YOUR SPOUSE'S MOODS?

DO YOU MAKE GOOD TRAVEL COMPANIONS?


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MARRIAGE PREPARATION                 
Should We Marry by Joseph M. Champlin. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, ©2001. $8.
A great book for both the pre-engaged to help them decide and the engaged. The cohabitation section is also a helpful resource for priests and marriage prep leaders. Fr. Champlin is author of the widely used wedding liturgy booklet, Together for Life and of the U.S. Bishop’s handbook for marriage preparation. His faithful, yet pastoral approach to cohabitation is a model worth following.

Time, Sex and Money – The First Five Years of Marriage by the Center for Marriage and Family, Creighton University. Omaha, NE: 2000. Cost: $10 from the Family Ministry Office.
Source book for the professional marriage preparation minister or those ministering with newly marrieds

MARRIAGE
For Better, For Worse, For God: Exploring the Holy Mystery of Marriage
by Mary Jo Pedersen, Loyola Press, 2008.
This realistic book about marriage can help couples find the sacredness in the ordinary tasks of married life. It could also serve a guide for a couples' marriage enrichment group

Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Creat a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime
by Robert & Rita Boeke, Read a Book Press, 2009.
Bob and Rita are Marriage Encounter veterans and their book takes the best insights of Marriage Encounter and offers it to couples. It could almost be an at home retreat.

Bullseye Marriage: Intentionally Targeting a Great Relationship
by Francis and Sara Fontana (2010, $15).

Toward Commitment – A Dialogue About Marriage by Diane Rehm and John Rehm (Knopf, NY: 2002, $24)
A powerful book about two very different people staying married over the long haul and what it took to do it. Topics include anger, family, religious differences, money, arguing, vacations, etc. The unique style of this book makes it very engaging. Under each topic both John and Diane write a short essay from their unique perspective and then dialogue on how they worked out their differences.

A Daring Promise – A Spirituality of Christian Marriage. Richard R. Gaillardetz. (Crossroad, $17)
An insightful, inspired, honest look at marriage, with all its joys and difficulties written by husband, father, and theologian, Rick Gaillardetz.

Making True Love – A Guide to Lasting Relationships by Thomas and Donna Finn (Pauline Books and Media, 2001, www.Pauline.org)
Young adults and teens can learn much from this attractively formatted and engagingly written book on family living, sexuality, and relationships.

Video Viewpoints. Movie/Video discussion guide
This is a way to enrich your marriage at home. Each Video Viewpoint sheet has thought provoking questions aimed at stirring discussion between spouses or with a small support group. The 12 videos covered are: Meet the Parents, Marvin’s Room, Nine Months, My Dog Skip, For Love of the Game, October Sky, My Best Friend’s Wedding, When Harry Met Sally, St. Elmo’s Fire, Hear My Song, Moonstruck, and The Mirror Has Two Faces.

Rekindle the Passion While Raising Your Kids by Anthony J. Garascia. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, ©2001. $15.
Restore energy to your marriage even while you are in the midst of a too-busy day, many work pressures, and the harried pace of caring for a growing family. Great for a do-it-yourself marriage enrichment time at home.

Together With Jesus Couple Prayer Series: by Bob and Kathy Ovies. This is a six week series which includes videos plus couple prayer experience handouts. The in-home series is $55. The church leadership packet is $145. www.coupleprayer.org


 

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FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
www.ForYourMarriage.org is a comprehensive website about all things marriage. It includes many articles, book reviews, and resources for dating, engaged, and married couples to strengthen their relationships. Sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) it provides help for both Catholics and anyone interested in preparing, sustaining, or repairing their marriage.

CATHOLIC ENGAGED ENCOUNTER
A retreat weekend for couples to reflect and discuss topics that will impact their upcoming marriage.
George & Patricia Zirenger, Fr. Peter Horton, National Executive Team
143 Reed St., Lower Burrell, PA 15068
Phone: 800-339-9790
Fax: 724-334-4892
E-Mail: ziringer@bellatlantic.net
Web Site: www.engagedencounter.org

FACET (Foundations Applied Conversations and Education Tool)
A couple friendly inventory to help engaged couples talk about issues crucial to their upcoming marriage.
FACET developers: Steve and Kathy Beirne
PO Box 1632
Portland, ME 04104
Phone: 800-775-4757, 207-775-4745
E-Mail: contact@facetsite.com
Website: www.facetsite.com

FOCCUS & REFOCCUS
An instrument to help couples study, understand and communicate about many things important to their relationship
FOCCUS, Inc.
3214 N. 60th St., Omaha, NE 68104
Phone: 888-874-2684
Website: www.foccusinc.com

MARRIAGE PREPARATION RESOURCES
A ministry of the Redemptorist Order offering For Better and For Ever, a parish-based marriage preparation program, Training for “sponsor couples”, and retreats for married couples, divorced, singles and more.
Rob A. Ruhnke C.S.S.R.
1617 Iowa St., San Antonio, TX 78203
Phone: 210-534-1129
Fax: 210-534-1280
E-Mail:ruhnke@flash.net
Website: www.marriagepreparation.com

ONLINE MARRIAGE PREPARATION
Although any growth program is usually more impactful when done live and in person, sometimes circumstances make this difficult or impossible. The Marriage Group provides a solution to this by offering the "Marriage Prep Class." Engaged couples watch online videos on the eight topics usually covered in marriage preparation with follow-up exercises and sharing.
The Marriage Group
PO Box 395, St. Clair, MI 48079
Phone: 888-499-7737
E-mail: info@themarriagegroup.com
Website: www.TheMarriageGroup.com

BETTER MARRIAGES (previously known as ACME)
An interrnational marriage enrichment organization "working for better marriages, beginning with our own".
P.O. Box 10596, Winston-Salem, NC 27108
Phone: 800-634-8325
Fax: 336-721-4746
E-Mail: acme@bettermarriages.org
Web Site: www.bettermarriages.org

FOUNDATIONS
A newsletter for young marrieds plus other resources for families just starting out published by S&K Publishers
Steve & Kathy Beirne, Editors
P.O. Box 1632, Portland, ME 04104-1532
Phone: 800-775-4757
E-Mail: skpubs@aol.com
Web Site: www.foundationsnewsletter.com

NATIONAL MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER
The mission of National Marriage Encounter is to celebrate, enrich, and support marriages and families through interfaith programs that enable married couples to discover a deeper understanding of their relationship.
Kent & Jeannette Babcock
3922 77th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322
Phone: 515-278-8458
E-Mail: bus-admin@marriage-encounter.org
Web Site: www.marriage-encounter.org

WORLDWIDE MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER
Worldwide Marriage Encounter is a Catholic weekend experience whose purpose is to enrich and renew marriages and to strengthen the Sacrament of Matrimony. The weekend enables husbands and wives to continue to grow closer together to live more joyful and meaningful lives.
Sharon Brooks, Administrative Assistant
2210 E. Highland Ave. #106, San Bernadino, CA 92404
Phone: 909-863-9986
Fax: 909-863-9986
E-Mail: webmaster@wwme.org
Web Site: www.wwme.org

RETROUVAILLE Peer ministry to help couples in struggling marriages
Phone: 800-470-2230
E-Mail: rlennon@snet.net
Web Site: www.retrouvaille.org

THE THIRD OPTION
An on-going ministry to hurting marriages
Patricia Ennis, President
1342 Lancaster Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13210
Phone: 315-472-6728
Fax: 315-472-8409
http://thethirdoption.com/

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MARRIAGE MOMENTS
From June 6, 2003 to November 2009

From November 2011 to present go to Twitter.com/ (@Vogt_Susan).
Search under #MarriageMoment

  If you are a pastoral minister or marriage and family educator, you are welcome to reprint these in bulletins, your church or agency website, or other similar resource as long as you use the credit line:
"by Susan Vogt, www.SusanVogt.net". If you use these on a website, please also link to my website.
You may also send these out to your own database. Please abide by the following:
1. Send e-mails only to people who request it, i.e. "opt in"
2. Use the entire quote.
3. Include the credit line: "by Susan Vogt, www.SusanVogt.net"
All Marriage Moments are by Susan Vogt unless otherwise noted. I do not share names or addresses with anyone else.

1. If you're too busy to have a weekly date with your spouse, you may be too busy. Tonight choose several hours that you can devote just to each other next weekend. This week the wife plans what to do, next week it's the husband's turn.

2. Don't argue with anyone today even if you're right.

3. In a growing marriage the little things are the big things. It's not only marrying the right person. It's BEING the right partner. How are you doing in the little things of your marriage?

4. "The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love. This person has made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present." (M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled)

5. "Romance is a process it's not an event. It's not a one-time thing. It's not something that's 'accomplished' and then forgotten. In order to work, it's got to be an ongoing thing a part of the very fabric of your daily life" (Gregory J. P. Godek, 1001 Ways to Be Romantic) Think of one romantic way you can express your love for your spouse today. Do it.

6. Most couples think that being involved sexually is the most intimate part of their marriage. Praying together, however, may be an even deeper form of intimacy. It takes great trust to pour out your heart to God in the presence of your spouse. A first step may be praying for each other even if not in one another's presence. A second step may be silent meditation in each other's presence. Other steps can be found on this website (www.SusanVogt.net) under Marriage Articles. “Who Me? Pray with Her?” Take a step this week.

7. "Is it any wonder that couples are finding it more difficult to make and keep marriage vows when promiscuity is portrayed as normative on the sitcoms and is snuck into our e mails and annoyingly pops up on websites?" (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) This week, be mindful of what the media is feeding your psyche.

8. "Yeah, you won," said the irate wife to her husband, "and now you get to live with the loser." Retrouvaille leader on why win/win outcomes are a better way to resolve disagreements.

9. “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find grounds for marriage." (Robert Anderson, Solitaire/Double Solitaire) This week discuss a significant value or belief that holds you and your spouse together.

10. “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing to a young bride and group from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1943)

11. Having a disagreement? Try this:
Rate how strongly you feel about the issue on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being “I would be devastated to give in on this one.” Spouse also rates the issue. Sometimes the partner with the lesser investment will be willing to give in - this time. If you're both about 5, seek a middle ground. If you're both around 10, seek a creative new solution or put off the decision and agree to disagree for now. Don't play games though. If one partner ALWAYS feels like a 10, he or she may need to deal with control issues.

12. “All those ‘and they lived happily ever after’ fairy tale ending need to be changed to ‘and they began the very hard work of making their marriages happy.’” (Linda Miles, The New Marriage) Are there any fairy tale dreams I'm still holding on to that block my ability to love my spouse for better or for worse?

13. “When you work with people, it is a lot like mining for gold. You do not look for the dirt. You look for the gold.” (Andrew Carnegie) What affirming nugget can you say to your spouse today? It helps if it’s specific. It’s important that it’s true.

14. A good argument can be a labor of love. Have something sensitive or difficult to talk about with your spouse? Try holding hands and maintaining direct eye contact when you are having a discussion about a disagreement.

15. If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy. Pick a specific and regular time each day to say a prayer for your spouse such as, “Dear God, bless _____ today.” It might be when you start the car, wash your hands, brush your teeth, etc. It’s short, doesn’t take any extra time, just extra awareness of your beloved and entrusting him or her to God’s care. This works for kids too.

16. Love is not simply a feeling; it is a decision. (Marriage Encounter principle) When the feeling fades – and it will at times – recommit to building your relationship. DO something loving for your spouse. Feelings are transient; love goes beyond feelings.

17. “Pay attention to details:
-Don’t buy just any flowers – get her favorites.
-Make a point of always wrapping his gifts in his favorite color.”
(Gregory J.P. Godek, “1001 Ways to Be Romantic”)

18. “Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” (Joseph Barth) Don’t waste it by always having to have your way.

19. Having a successful marriage depends not so much on FINDING the right person but BEING the right person. Is there a change I can make in my own behavior that will make our marriage happier?

20. “I guess you were right.” Although Jim and I don’t see our marriage as a competition, still this phrase is one of the sweetest things he can say to me. It usually comes after a disagreement in which each of us was sure we were right. It doesn’t remedy the mistake but it’s SO much better than “I told you so!” I turn toward him with love rather than self-righteousness. Is there something your spouse was “right” about this past week?

21. Do you feel like a hamster racing around a wheel? Are you very busy but never caught up? STOP for one minute. Be silent. Turn off the TV, radio, computer, etc., and turn toward your spouse. Silently thank God for your life companion. He/she is the pathway of your vocation. You will purify each other.

22. “It is when the spouses no longer feel like being in each other’s company always, when they would rather be elsewhere some of the time, that their love begins to be tested and will be found to be present or absent.” (M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled)

23. “A successful marriage is one in which you fall in love many times, always with the same person.” (D. W. McLaughlin)

24. “Love the family! Defend and promote it as the basic cell of human society; nurture it as the prime sanctuary of life. Give great care to the preparation of engaged couples and be close to the young married couples, so that they will be for their children and the whole community an eloquent testimony of God’s love.” (Pope John Paul II, 2001) Pray today for volunteers who guide couples through marriage preparation or marriage enrichment programs.

25. In terms of housekeeping, on a scale of 1 to 10 are you a “CLEAN” or a “DIRTY”?
Likewise, are you a “NEAT” or a “SLOPPY”? What is your spouse? Often clean and neat are equated with moral superiority. As desirable as these qualities might be, morality comes into play when differences cause tension between you and neither is willing to budge (or your home would not pass muster even with a blind health inspector).

26. As you prepare for Thanksgiving, thank God for your spouse. Tell your spouse a specific quality that endears you to her or him. Remember that there are many people in our world still looking for love, still looking for a soul mate.

27. All married couples disagree at one time or another. Remember this rule for ‘fighting fair’: “Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they merely are.” (Marriage Encounter) Accept your spouse’s feelings even if you don’t share them. Share your own feelings without rancor.

28. “Getting married is the boldest and most idealistic thing that most of us will ever do.” (Maggie Gallagher, co-author of The Case for Marriage) Pause today to remember your wedding day. Are there any dreams that you had on that day that you now think were unrealistic? Think of one thing about your marriage that has turned out to be better than you expected.

29. What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. In what way are you and your spouse most different?

30. It is the very times that we feel most stressed and pressed for time that we can short change our spouse. After all, he or she will understand. Today, take a moment when you next see your spouse to pause and offer a warm, knowing glance. No words need be spoken. Takes maybe 5 seconds. You can spare the change.

31. “Marriage means the invasion of our privacy, the giving up of our pretenses. But the sense of belonging to one another brings rich and satisfying compensations.” (David & Vera Mace, founders of ACME) Think of one way that you’ve changed this past year. Has this enriched or stressed your marriage?

2004

32. Welcome to a new year! Discover something new about your spouse today. Do you know his/her favorite website, in-law, romantic turn-on, scripture passage, etc.?

33. “We live our relationships not through terrific planning but simply by being present with the ones we love. This is true whether the loved one is another person – or God.” (Carl McColman) Other than sleeping, how many hours (minutes?) will I be in the presence of my spouse today? How much will be real presence and how much will I be distracted or busy about life’s demands?

34. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about equality between the races. In marriage equality takes the form of mutuality respect and power. Although spouses may take on different tasks and roles, your value as husband or wife is equal. Is there any area of your marriage that your spouse may want to be more equal (chores, parenting, income, affection)? Ask.

35. In a world that is getting smaller our hearts must get bigger. In a world that is getting colder our spirits must get warmer. In a world that is getting angrier, our souls must become more loving. Starting with my spouse, is there a way I can stretch my love today by going “out of my way” for another.

36. In the spirit of the groundhog, develop your shadow side today. If you’re shy, make an overture to someone in need. If you’re not very affectionate, give your spouse an unexpected kiss or hug. If you’re a work-a-holic, take some time off to play together. You get the idea.

37. On Valentine’s Day many lovers buy cards, candy, and flowers for each other. Others go out for dinner or a date. These are nice and celebrate your love but are not the heart of it. Recall your wedding vows this week – the good times and the bad, the sickness and the health. “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Make it true.

38. Take a moment today to be a “secret admirer”. Just gaze at your beloved as he or she goes about life. Think fondly of this person you love.

39. Parting and coming together again can be mini reminders to love the person to whom you pledged your life. Do you have a custom to kiss, or hug, or something else at these times? If it has become routine, bring a special consciousness to it today.

40. It’s Lent. Instead of ‘giving up’ something today, consider ‘giving in’. Is there some way you could yield to your spouse today? Just don’t pick the same thing lest it become, “Whatever YOU want; No, whatever YOU want…”

41. Most couples are busy and don’t have enough quality time together, but sometimes we need time by ourselves too. Do you have a private, quiet space where you can center yourself and reflect on what’s important in your life? Take five minutes today to be still and sit in silence.

42. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) On your wedding day you laid your very life into the hands of another person without knowing what the future held. (Leif Kehrwald, Marriage & the Spirituality of Intimacy) Sometimes it is hard to love unconditionally, isn’t it?

43. If you could give an engaged couple just one piece of advice to strengthen their marriage, what would it be? How did you get so wise? Do you practice what you preach?

44. At the crucifixion Jesus was stripped of his clothes – but not only his clothes. His captors tried to humiliate him and take away his dignity. When have I experienced humiliation? Sadly, because we know where each other are vulnerable, married couples sometimes speak ill of each other – sometimes in jest, sometimes in carelessness, sometimes out of hurt or anger. Is it time to stop? Is it time to forgive?

45. Before God and spouse we stand naked. There is no use hiding or pretending that we are something that we are not. Is there any pretense or baggage that I bring to my marriage that I need to let go of?

46. Rejoice! Whether the time you spend with your spouse today be brief, long, or long distance, look at your beloved with fresh eyes. Recognize and remember why you promised to love each other forever. Although you can do this at any time, breaking bread at dinner might be a nice prompt.

47. Which best fits your marriage: “Birds of a feather flock together.” or “Opposites attract.” In other words, is it easier to be married to a person who is similar to you or different from you? How are you most alike? How different?

48. “Sexuality is not simply about finding a lover or even finding a friend. It is about overcoming separateness by giving life and blessing it.” (Ron Rolheiser, The Holy Longing) How does your spouse stir life in you? How does your spouse make your life sing?

49. Is my ego, or the need to be right, keeping me from getting close to my beloved?

50. On your wedding day you promised to love each other for better or for worse. Today, think of a “for better” that your spouse has made in your life. Share it before you go to bed tonight.

51. On your wedding day you also promised to love each other ‘for worse’. What is a ‘for worse’ that you’ve experienced so far in your marriage? How has it changed you, strengthened your love, tested your love?

52. Your marriage vow is a commitment to unconditional love. It's not dependent upon your spouse's perfection or likeability. With the exception of abuse, hang in there. With care, the feelings of love cycle in and out. Sometimes we just really get tired of, or annoyed with each other. Love anyway.

53. Distance can put stress on a marriage. Having a spouse who travels a lot or who is deployed to military service poses a challenge. Do you have any practices that help the two of you when you are apart for awhile? (If you share them with me, I’ll share them with others through my website.) Pray for couples separated by miles today, especially those serving in the military.

54. Sometimes the distance in a relationship is emotional and can happen while in each other’s presence. Be present to each other today. If possible, connect with each other right now – a glance, a call, an e-mail, a positive thought, a prayer.

55. Are you a morning dove or a night owl? What’s the best time of day for your spouse in terms of being alert and active? If you’re the same it probably makes life easier, but if you’re different, have you found ways to accommodate your different rhythms?

56. My husband is a morning person and I’m not – but that’s when we pray anyway. He takes the initiative to gently wake me and read the scripture of the day. Some days I figure God appreciates me just “showing up”.

57. Let one person who annoys you today get a free pass. Life is too short to keep score. Perhaps the recipient of your tolerance will be your spouse. If not, he or she may still benefit from a less irritable partner.

58. “Look, marriage is wonderful. Don't ruin it with unrealistic expectations. Learn what your marriage truly can and cannot be. Hint: Don't take your cues from Hollywood.” (Mark Gungor, Laugh Your Way America) So, from where do you take YOUR cues?

59. Smile at the first person you see today and the last person you see tonight. If you’re alone today, use a mirror.

60. How are we different; let me count the ways. Consider the many ways you are different from your spouse (personality, hobbies, opinions, background, values, etc.) Differences can attract but in time can also attack, or at least annoy. Which difference is the biggest challenge to your love?

61. For some couples marriage comes easily – similar personalities, backgrounds, interests, and values. For others, once the initial romance wears off, the adjustments and self-sacrifice required are immense. Either way there are times of trial and work – sometimes heroic effort.

62. I’m too hot! I’m too cold! If you had to choose, which would you rather be? Trivial perhaps, but couples have to negotiate these creature comforts. How do you decide who gets their way when preferences conflict? Be grateful for furnaces or A/C today.

63. “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage?...Yes, it is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.” (Author unknown)

64. Unlike other relationships, marriage is a vowed covenant with unique dimensions. In this partnership, mutual submission – not dominance by either partner – is the key to genuine joy.” (USCCB. “Follow the Way of Love) Can you name one way you’ve let your spouse have his/her way recently?

65. Some studies indicate that the average couple spends 20 minutes a day together. Although hard to believe, perhaps this refers only to direct relationship time and not sleeping, eating, chores, etc. Regardless, hopefully you are above average. How much time will you spend with your spouse today? Do you need to increase “face time”?

66. Pick your battles wisely. You may win the battle, but lose the marriage. Was the last argument you had with your spouse worth it?

67. Marriage educators often emphasize that it takes work to make a marriage last. Do a labor of love for your spouse today. It needn’t be onerous. A simple favor like getting a snack, running an errand, offering a back rub would be a nice start. Eventually everyday could be Labor Day.

68. “Over the long term, it is important for marriage partners to have accurate knowledge of their relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. Satisfaction goes down when a spouse’s expectations don’t fit with reality.” (James McNulty, 2004 study of marital satisfaction) Name one strength of your marriage. Share it with your spouse today.

69. Is there an expectation you had on your wedding day that you now recognize as unrealistic? Let it go. Concentrate on the important stuff and what you can change.

70. Name one weakness in your marriage. Don’t ignore it or be afraid of it; deal with it. If you invited God into your partnership on your wedding day, lean on the Lord for help. New ways of coping may become clear to you.

71. Recreation #1
When is fun not fun? When your spouse feels left out. List your favorite hobbies noting which ones you both share and which are yours alone. What would your spouse say?

72. Recreation #2
Ideally spouses find recreational pursuits that both enjoy but couples can become trapped in habit or society’s definition of fun. Identify what REALLY feeds your spirit. Is it conversation or quiet, going out or staying home, being a participant or a spectator, with a crowd or just by yourselves?

73. Recreation #3
Do you have a hobby that your spouse does not enjoy or have time for? Check out whether it is robbing your marriage. Does it steal undue time, money, or attention from your family? Is your spouse complaining about it? That’s a hint.

74. “They do not love who do not show their love.” (William Shakespeare) Respect life. Love your spouse. Extend these to others today, even those with whom you disagree.

75. The election is at hand. The USA is divided and tired. Is it possible to love and respect those with different political opinions? Consider how you resolve serious differences of opinion with your spouse. What does it mean to ‘love your enemy’ when it feels like fellow citizens are the enemy? Learn from your marriage. We must go on living together.

76. When it’s hard to forgive a spouse who has “done you wrong”, try praying this way, "Oh Lord, let me forgive those who sin differently than I do". Now is the time for healing, not self-righteousness.

77. Adoptive parents are “real” parents just as much as those who have biological children. You already love each other. Have you ever considered extending that love to a child in need of a permanent home? Every child deserves to have a “real” family.

78. One of the great temptations of marriage is to take each other for granted. Just as a crisis often pulls people to prayer it can also remind us how precious the presence of our spouse is. Don’t wait for a crisis. Thank God today for your life partner and give a word of appreciation to your spouse.

79. A key Advent theme is WAITING for Jesus to come again into our world. What else have you had to wait for in life? Did you have to wait long for your beloved before you were married? Ponder those days.

80. In the spirit of Advent waiting, practice waiting on your spouse today. While waiting for your spouse to arrive, calmly remember the good person you are awaiting (instead of stewing if he or she is late). Or “wait on” your spouse in the sense of doing a favor for him or her.

81. In Advent we prepare for the coming of Jesus. How do you prepare for the coming of your spouse after an absence? Do you have any customs that help you reunite at the end of the day or a longer time apart? Anticipation is important.

82. In the northern hemisphere the last week of Advent coincides with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Dark nights can be cozy when warmed by love and candlelight, but they can also refer to times our love was challenged or a time of personal depression. If this week finds you blessed with pleasant experiences of darkness, pray for those who aren’t. If you are among those who are currently struggling in your marriage, or life in general, accept the power of prayer.

83. Christmas is the celebration of God assuming a human nature. Our own human nature, however, often exposes family conflicts during this season. Accept the human foibles of your spouse and relatives.
Overlook what you can.

2005

84. The Epiphany is a feast of outreach and inclusion. The appearance of Jesus to the three wise men from the East reminds us that Jesus came for all humankind, not just the Jewish people. So too, married love is not a gift to be hoarded. Reach out to someone who is sad, in trouble, or from a different culture. Can you do it together?

85. When the weather is not conducive to outdoor couple dates do you have a repertoire of inside activities that you enjoy together? Movies can be stimulating but isolating if not followed by sharing. Dinner out can get expensive and routine if done too often. Most games require more than two people. Our own favorites have been playing Cribbage, Gin, or Scrabble, talking by a fire, or working on a home project.

86. Martin Luther King emphasized that our differences need not divide us. Think of a way that you and your spouse are different yet your traits complement each other. (Consider things like attention to detail vs. seeing the whole picture, quick thinker vs. thorough planner, extrovert vs. self-reflective...)

87. January is get organized month. Pick a room, a book case, a file, or a drawer to clean out. Often one spouse has more talent or interest in organizing and cleaning than the other. If so, this could be a gift to your spouse. If you both enjoy it, make it a date.

88. ``Love is work. It's good work, if you can get it. But it's work, nevertheless.'' (Benjamin Cheever)

89. Mardis Gras allows us a last fling before the Lenten season of penitence. Do something silly or frivolous together in the next couple days. Eat something decadent, give each other a massage, wear wild make-up, enjoy being foolish. If you tend to be uptight, let go. You’ll have six weeks to indulge your over-responsible side.

90. Repeat to each other today, “I _____, again take you, _____, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Get out your wedding pictures. Reminisce about what you’ve been through together.

91. As we celebrate the heroism of past presidents, call to mind a heroic deed of your spouse. When did he or she sacrifice self for you? Perhaps it was giving up some time, putting up with a less than favorite in-law, slaying a snake, or simply opening a jar. Heroism comes in many shapes and sizes.

92. Self nurturing hobbies are healthy but can bleed into selfishness when MY needs become more important than my spouse’s. Do I put any deeply held values like faith, fidelity, or family responsibilities at risk to pursue recreation? Negotiate limits if necessary.

93. “In sickness and in health…” How do you deal with illness? Do you like to be coddled or ignored? What does your spouse want from you when he or she is sick?

94. What sacrifice has your marriage called you to make for your beloved, i.e., moving, putting your life on hold, changing an annoying habit? Can you die (just a little) to your own needs this week to give life to your spouse or children? Do it generously, not begrudgingly.

95. “…Until death do us part.” This alternative wording of the wedding vow is sobering and most couples don’t focus on it for long. Good Friday, however, reminds us of the reality of death. Have you shared with each other your feelings and fears about your own death and that of your spouse?

96. Celebrate new life today! Are you waiting to have a child, caring for children or aging parents, resting from the rigors or childrearing? May Christ’s resurrection give you new life and energy for others.

97. "When my grandma got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandpa does it for her now all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8

98. "In a committed, loving, covenantal relationship sex is sacramental …a privileged vehicle of grace…open(ing) both persons to becoming life-giving, gracious, and blessing adults." (Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing) How does your sexual relationship make you a better person in the rest of your life?

99. My most recent self improvement project has been to tame my tongue. I've not yet leaned to do this to my satisfaction, but I have learned that it's hard to change and I can only focus on one day at a time. A small change - not speaking ill of anyone today, not even my spouse in jest - is a start.

100. Who married you? "It is the spouses who give their consent to each other by a solemn promise…As baptized Christians, they are ministers of the sacrament of matrimony in the church." (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 1981) Even if you are not Christian, resolve to be a worthy minister today.

101. In marriage, we lead and follow. It’s like a dance in which we have to be sensitive to the signals of the other and balance our own needs with those of our life partner. Are you more of a leader or a follower? Balance and swing.

102. "A psychiatrist asks a lot of expensive questions your wife asks for nothing." (Joey Adams) Of course this could work the other way around too. As annoying as a challenging question from a spouse can be, it might point to a deep truth or a hurt. At least check it out.

103. Society and churches run on both money and volunteers. Generosity is a virtue but it's possible to become a "good cause widow(er)". Are you spending enough or too much time volunteering? Your answer will come from the mouth of your spouse. Try joint volunteer projects.

104. "Discuss your family of origin's attitudes about pets.” (Trudy Costa, "How To Create a Satisfying, Lasting Marriage") Did one of you bring a pet into your marriage? Who is responsible for any pets you have now? What’s your pet peeve?

105. To serve country, spouse, or God is to give your life because of your love. Dying for country, spouse, or God is a great sacrifice, but sacrificing time and spending energy in the service of your beloved counts too. Serve your spouse in an unexpected way today.

106. "Do not abandon yourself to sorrow, do not torment yourself with brooding" (Ecclesiasticus 30:21) There's plenty cause for sorrow in our world today, but sometimes I play a game with myself and try to see a positive angle to a misfortune. For example: Now that I'm sick I can finally read that book; or since the plane is late I can use the extra time to pray. Try it. You might be a more pleasant person to be around today.

107. When your hobbies differ and compete, does your spouse get stuck with the burden of extra chores, childcare, or unwanted loneliness as a result of your recreation time? Does your hobby take a lot more time than your spouse’s? If not, rejoice.

108. "One advantage of marriage, it seems to me, is that when you fall out of love with each other, it keeps you together until maybe you fall in love again." (Judith Viorst) What stirs you back to your love when it becomes routine? Try it soon.

109. Do you have a pet name for your spouse (baby, honey, a nickname that only you use)? It's not essential but often it can remind both of you of your special relationship. It's like calling God, "Abba".

110. Independence is an important step on the journey to adulthood, but marriage requires quite a bit of dependence. I depend on you to keep your word, to be there when I'm feeling hurt, to watch the kids so I can have a break…

111. "Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." (Antoine De Saint-Exupery) The little prince knew something of marriage. Look out over your life and see beyond the crabgrass. What is your most cherished common goal?

112. One of the sweetest phrases a husband can say to his wife is "What can I do to help?" Chocolate is nice but help when overburdened is better.

113. “To live faithfully in a marriage requires humility, trust, compromise, communication, and a sense of humor.” (Follow the Way of Love, USCCB) Which quality does your spouse have in spades? What would your spouse say is your strongest suit?

114. "Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, the woman who is wise is the one to praise." (Proverbs 31:30) This scripture describing the "ideal wife" could also apply to husbands. Name a wise decision your spouse has made recently. "Marrying me!" doesn't count.

115. Does your spouse ever “go nuclear” on you, i.e. suddenly blow up over nothing? Although there’s no excuse for abuse, sometimes it helps to note what triggered the explosion. Counselors are trained to look for the comment or action that precedes a shut down. If it’s non-violent and only occasional, look for what’s out of balance in your beloved’s life. If it’s a violent pattern, get counseling or make an escape plan.

116. "The challenge is to help couples turn 'I Do' into 'We Can.'" (Scott Stanley) Use a marriage skill today. How about that old standby, the “I statement”. I feel _____ (worried) when you _____ (don't call if you're going to be late). I'd like you to _____ (call).

117. Arguing about who’s right usually leads to resentment. "You may be right" is a handy phrase in which the speaker doesn't admit to being wrong, but allows that your spouse has a valid position. Sometimes that's enough to break a deadlock and promote a compromise.

118. "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" (George Eliot) What might your spouse be struggling with today?

119. Describe your ideal job. Is it your current job? How does your work (job, home, school) make the world a better place? Ask your spouse’s opinion.

120. For some couples children come readily or even by surprise. Others painfully wait month after month hoping to become pregnant. Whatever your circumstance, pray for those who have a different struggle. Believe that they are praying for you.

121. Being a faithful spouse means more than just not having a sexual affair. It also includes saying “No” to other temptations that compete with your spouse for attention. Is work, TV, the Internet, children, hobbies, housekeeping, stealing time needed for your relationship?

122. "Be your partner's cheerleader, not his/her teacher, supervisor or critic. This creates a partnership rather than a hierarchy." (Trudy Costa, "How To Create a Satisfying, Lasting Marriage")

123. Natural or national disasters can bring out the best in humanity as we rally to help those in need. A marriage crisis can also prompt a couple to sacrifice for each other or honestly deal with a recurring problem. Don’t wait for a disaster, however, to test your love. Prevention is better.

124. Although most travel is an exciting adventure, extended close encounters can cause couples to get on each other’s nerves. What do you like about traveling together? Dislike? What has been your favorite trip together?

125. “Wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Although this scripture was originally said by Ruth to her mother-in-law, it can also reflect the sentiment that spouses have toward each other. Where have you followed your spouse? When have you been the leader? How has it worked out?

126. How do you feel about growing old with your spouse? If you’re my age, parts of the body are starting to wear out. Talk about your concerns regarding aging – even if you’re young. Knowing that your love is unconditional and does not depend on a perfect body is part of “for better or for worse”.

127. Does anything scare you about your spouse (his diet, her health, his temper, her carelessness…)? If it’s serious, summon the courage to talk about it. If it’s humorous, laugh together over it.

128. “Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” (Emily - age 8) Would others see that you love your spouse?

129. Are you in a “mixed marriage?” Traditionally this term has been used for Catholic/Non-catholic marriages but it could mean mixed races, mixed classes, mixed ethnicities. or even mixed technology (PC vs MAC). How has your life been enriched by the difference your spouse brings?

130. “Thanks be to God!” is a common expression not only of thanks but also of relief that a danger was averted. is there a bad fortune that you have avoided? Perhaps you avoided the flu by getting a shot or avoided an argument with your spouse because you decided to hold your tongue until you got more facts? Thank God for invisible blessings.

131. “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33) Although death comes most often to the old, don’t put off words and acts of love for later. We don’t know how much time we have. Love your spouse today.

132. Many parents put a small treat in their children’s shoes the night before St. Nick’s Day, December 6. Consider putting a treat in your spouse’s shoe (a Hershey kiss, a love note, a coupon for a favor like a backrub or a chore you’ll relieve your spouse of the next day).

133. In Catholic tradition, December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – a feast of miracles when Mary appeared in the skin color and clothing of the indigenous Mexican people. Have there been any miracles in your marriage? (recovery from an illness, revitalization of your love, remembering to check the car’s oil) Do you ever get under each other’s skin? Is it a miracle you’re still together?

134. Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday. (Noelle - age 7) Are there any subtle actions that your spouse takes that you know are meant to please you?

135. On the second day of Christmas, pause, look at your true love, and appreciate the gift you are to each other. Hopefully, the frenzy of Christmas Day has waned and you can rest in each other’s company for a moment. Relaxing in each other’s arms might be a better gift than two turtle doves.

2006

136. On the ninth day of Christmas ladies should be dancing. Of course not all ladies like to dance, but often more women do than men. Treat your true love to a whirl around the living room. You needn't be good at it; the important thing is that you are in the arms of the person you love.

137. Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish…it is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Always? Never? That's a tall order. But then our human love is never perfect and we must always keep trying.

138 What does it mean to be equal? Are both of you equally good at cooking, mechanical things, sewing, small talk? Probably not. Even though your spouse may have a natural talent for a particular task, why not try trading chores for a day. Trading places can bring new appreciation for the other. Even if the job doesn't get done as well, it can provide a laugh.

139. Sometimes we weary of the work of love. We wonder whether it's worth all the effort. How long must we wait for happiness? Forever? For better or for worse. Is this just the "worse" part or has your spouse already ended the marriage physically or emotionally? Tough questions. Sometimes we have to grieve the loss of our ideal marriage and see what we can build together.

140. "Couples who are finding it hard to stay married deserve our prayers and assistance." (Follow the Way of Love, USCCB). Pray for a couple you know who is struggling in their marriage. Perhaps your prayer is for yourself. Consider trying Retrouvaille, www.retrouvaille.org or The Third Option, www.thethirdoption.com.

141. When dealing with in-law issues, try Bill Dougherty’s advice, “Blood should argue with blood.” What’s the kindest or most helpful thing an in-law did for you? Focus on the positive.

142. On Valentines Day or your Anniversary why not dig out the readings you used at your wedding. In a quiet moment read them to each other again and ponder what they mean to you now. If you can’t find them try 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13.

143. What is your marriage founded on? Love, of course. Common beliefs, hopefully. When George Washington became the first president of the U.S. he had little idea how this fledgling country would evolve. So too, most of us are relatively naïve on our wedding day. Perhaps a penny could be a reminder of your wedding vows, “In God we trust.”

144. “Honey, do you know where the _____ is?” Sometimes I just cut to the chase and say, “OK, where did you put my ______?” It’s always humbling to find the lost object where I last put it. Who’s the ‘finder’ in your marriage? Are you a ‘blamer’?

145. According to Rabbi David Zeller, the nine best words of reconciliation are, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Please forgive me.” Don’t be stingy with these words. They’ll save you time and a lot of needless arguing.

146. An elderly man had just lost his wife, when a 4-year-old neighbor child saw him crying. The little boy went to the man's yard, climbed on his lap, and just sat there. When the boy's mother asked him what he'd said to the neighbor, the boy answered, "Nothing, I just helped him cry." When was the last time one of you cried?

147. Spring begins with different symptoms in different climates but in the northern hemisphere it has to do with newness. Learn something new about your spouse today, no matter how long you’ve been married.

148. “To live faithfully in marriage…is a give-and-take experience, involving hurt and forgiveness, failure and sacrifice.” (Follow the Way of Love, USCCB) Have you ever felt like a failure in your marriage? Forgive yourself; then forgive your spouse for the times he or she has failed you.

149. "The moment when the instinct to love is greater than the desire to be loved is the instant we become an adult.” (Dr. Steven Stosny) When have you put your spouse’s pleasure before your own? and vice versa?

150. (Holy Week) “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) This is a week to remember the sacrifice that true love demands. Jesus literally laid down his life for us. We also lay down our lives, however, when we put our spouse’s comfort before our own, when we let go of having the last word in an argument, or when we labor for the family.

151. Our bodies change over the years. Arise to a new way of being alive today. Maybe you awoke with aches and pains; maybe it’s your heart that aches or your mind that worries. Just for today, pay attention to your breath, your spirit, your physical well being and be thankful for life no matter how fragile. Ask your spouse to remind you.

152. “Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” (Chris - age 7) Not counting your spouse, who is your favorite hero(ine)? Why not tell your spouse how he/she is prettier, smarter, funnier, stronger, or wiser.

153. When you and your spouse disagree about something, try changing places – literally. Exchange seats, move a little closer, and perhaps hold hands to remind yourselves that underneath this argument is a deeper love.

154. When you and your spouse disagree about something, try changing places - figuratively. Take your spouse’s position for a moment (no matter how silly it may seem) and pretend you are making a case for the other side. Try to see how it feels from your spouse's point of view. You don't have to agree, but it will help your spouse to know you understand. It reduces repeating and shouting.

155. “[Married} love is first of all fully human; that is to say, it pertains at the same time to both sense and spirit.” (Humanae Vitae) Married love is rightly sensual. Delight in it. When hardships come, and they will because we are human, call on the Spirit to renew your spirit.

156. “You really shouldn't say ‘I LOVE YOU’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” (Jessica, age 8) Mean it today. This applies to your children and other relatives too.

157. On Memorial Day we remember those who have defended our freedom. Humorists suggest that once couples marry they lose their freedom. True, we are not free to enter into other intimate relationships or to make important decisions based solely on one's own desires. But, marriage can free us to stop searching, to stop putting up a front, to risk being our truest, best self because we are loved unconditionally.

158. (Pentecost ) What puts fire and passion into your marriage? For newlyweds this may come easily. For others perhaps it's been awhile. Often rekindling romance is a matter of doing something new together. Start a new hobby, learn a new language, or at least a few loving words in a different tongue. Can you say, "I love you" in another language?

159. "Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8) Do you know anyone who claims to love God yet does not act lovingly toward a family member, a neighbor, creation? Don't let it be you.

160. One day an elderly man said to his wife, "Whatever happened to our sexual relations?" The wife replied, "Good question. I don't think we received a Christmas card from them last year." Don't let your sexual relationship become a muddled memory.

161. Individual pursuits can make you a happier person to be around but when do separate hobbies and recreation create too much distance? Answer: When the time, expense, or energy are more than you spend on your spouse. Often this is about the same time your spouse starts complaining about feeling neglected. Pay attention.

162. (4th of July ) How much independence is good in a marriage? Certainly husband and wife need to be able to stand on their own two feet and not rely on their spouse for identity and self worth, BUT interdependence is better. What do you depend on your spouse to do around your home? When was the last time YOU were dependable?

163. "An enduring marriage is more than simply endurance. It is a process of growth into an intimate friendship." (Follow the Way of Love.) Think of a good friend from childhood? Tell your spouse what made that friendship special and how he or she is even more special.

164. "There is nothing more admirable than two people who see eye-to-eye keeping house as man and wife, confounding their enemies, and delighting their friends." (Homer, 9th century BC) Marriage is pretty ancient. Renew yours each day.

165. "Love is not boastful or conceited." (1 Cor. 13:4) Rather than boast about yourself, think of some deed for which your spouse deserves praise. Tell him or her today.

166. On a hot, muggy summer night you might feel that the romance of your courtship is history. Summon up your energy and do something crazy, playful, and cooling. Run through a sprinkler, take a moonlit walk along a lake, catch fireflies. Be silly. Try skinny dipping if you have a private spot. It might not work out as you planned but you'll have a story to remember.

167. "After the house burned down and the fire trucks had pulled away, my wife, Eileen, said to me 'You better be nice to me because I am all you have left.' She's right, and I try to be - nice that is." (Al Prendergast) Tragedies and crises can either bond or break a couple's relationship. What crises have you faced together?

168. "My spouse is my best friend" may be a trite phrase, but just for today be friendly. What quality do you value most in a friend?

169. As tragic as divorce is, married couples can learn from our divorced brothers and sisters. Learn how to NOT take each other for granted and let the romance slip slide away in the busyness of making a living. Consider talking to a divorced friend and humbly ask what they've learned from their experience.

170. "Three words that save a marriage are, 'Maybe you're right.'" (Sally Gully). Marcus, her husband, adds "Maybe, gives you some wiggle room." This works for a variety of contentious situations such as with fellow employees, customers, even children.

171. Isn't it ironic that Labor Day is a day when most adults get OFF work. However sweet love may be, the work of love takes no holiday. Do a favor for your honey today. Open a door, get a cold drink, watch the kids unbidden. It needn't be major, just do it.

172. "Even if you disagree, please don't make me wrong." (Jack Rosenblum & Corinne Dugas, The 5 Secrets of Marriage from the Heart) A marriage skill worth cultivating is how to help your partner save face when proven wrong. Start with not "proving" your partner wrong but finding a kernel of truth or wisdom in your spouse's position. You may be the recipient of this generous gesture later.

173. Married love is fully human which means it comes with all the frailties of the human condition which can both delight and annoy. But what other way would you have it?

174. "Conrad Hilton was very generous to me in the divorce settlement. He gave me 5,000 Gideon Bibles." (Zsa Zsa Gabor) Do you own a Bible (or another holy book) you follow? What's your favorite scripture?

175. Agape love is the willingness to care for the other as much as myself. Hmmm, sounds a lot like the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31) Different religions and philosophies of life say it different ways but there's something universal about spending oneself for the beloved.

176. "If real trust, commitment, permanency, and unconditional love are not present within the wider relationship, sex is partly a lie. It pretends to give a gift that it does not really give." (Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, A Holy Longing) Your marriage vows express these same sentiments. That's why marriage makes a difference.

177. What first attracted you to your spouse? Often the very quality that you found so endearing during courtship can become the habit that drives you crazy later in marriage because it is the over-extension of a strength. That may be why it originally was so noticeable. Watch it.

178. "Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid." (Harlan Miller) Good communication is not always about what we say to each other but what we choose not to say. What is your spouse sensitive about? Consider not "rubbing it in."

179. Kid's notes to God: "Dear God, instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't you just keep the ones you got now." (Jane) Have you and your spouse talked about death? (If you have children you might want to try the Just Family Night on Life and Death.)

180. The unconditional love you promised in your marriage vows does not mean you are blind to faults or passively endure abuse. What's something you've discovered about your spouse that challenges your love?

181. "God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) Pronouns can be confusing and so can the differences between males and females. How does your spouse fit gender stereotypes? How not? More importantly, how does he/she reflect something of the Divine to you?

182. Thanksgiving involves travel for many families. Whether you stay at home or travel many miles remember those who can't afford a plane ticket, gas, or even a pair of shoes. Some don't even have a loved one with whom to share the day. Our bounty is not deserved, but a gift. Give some of it away.

183. Christians are about to enter the holy season of Advent. For the rest of the world this is often known as the holiday and party season. Who does most of the decorating, buying, cooking, and cleaning up around your home? Is it shared? Is it hectic? Is it too much? Simplify. (See Monthly Enrichment Activity - Advent Waiting 2 for ideas.)

184. "Keep reasonable work hours. If you give all your time and energy to the job, what's left for the most important person in your life? Have the courage to find a new job if necessary." (Trudy Costa)

185. Do you ever find yourself in "circular mode" when disagreeing with your spouse where each of you keeps repeating your side of the argument? Use that old standby "active listening." Not only do you have to understand your spouse's position but he/she must BELIEVE you understand by hearing you say it. Then you can move on to resolve it.

186. The Christmas season is traditionally a "family focused" time and for many people that means focusing on children. For newly marrieds this might be a cozy time of couple bonding but for couples longing for children it can be a bittersweet time. Remember each other.

187. (Christmas) Be a humble human today. That's what Jesus did by becoming human. On a lighter level, remember the song, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree." What's the silliest, most creative, or most romantic gift your true love has given you?

2007

188. Jan. 1: (New Year's Day) Ask your spouse if there's one little annoying habit that he/she would like you to change about yourself. You don't HAVE to do it, but the best part of a New Year's resolution might be making an effort to please the one you love most. (See The Pinch, if you want ideas)

189. "This decision to love is one we have to make over and over again, when it feels good and when it does not." (Follow the Way of Love) When the romance and feelings of love fade, sometimes it is the vow that we made to each other that keeps us faithfully looking for the good in the other.

190. Jan. 15: (Martin Luther King) Not all injustices are black or white. Often there's a lot of gray when trying to figure out who is right in an argument. Before digging in your heels and insisting on having your way, try to get in your spouse's skin and see how the problem looks through his/her eyes.

191.Is your spouse looking stressed, feeling overwhelmed? "What can I do to help?" is the appropriate response. It may be listening, it may be entertaining the kids, it may be doing the laundry, or just getting out of the way. Ask, don't criticize.

192. "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:21) The mutual love, respect, and servanthood that this scripture refers to goes both ways. Look for a way to yield to your spouse today. Not all days, just today.

193. In a "For Better or Worse" comic strip the wife asks her husband if she can show him a better way to fold the towels. He agrees to watch and learn. At the end, he gives her a hug and says, "You gotta know how to fold 'em, and also how to hold 'em." What would you not know how to do as well without your spouse?

194. (Valentines Day) In this season of Love, remember your wedding day. Repeat to each other today, on Valentines Day, or on your anniversary, “I _____, again take you, _____, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Memorize it.

195. Mardi Gras (also translated as “Fat Tuesday.”) is a day of feasting. One day of splurging on chocolate or cake seldom is harmful, BUT some folks are sensitive about their weight. How do you feel about your body image?

196. The purpose of Lent is not to lose weight, but sometimes fasting from sweets or junk food can be a prayer prompt every time you refrain from eating a coveted food. You can reinforce each other if you make a common commitment to give up the same pleasure food for six weeks.

197. Try applying the “Stranger Standard” to your marriage. Michelle Weiner-Davis coined this phrase in Divorce Busting to remind us that sometimes married couples treat strangers with more courtesy and sensitivity than their spouse. Just because you have a lifelong commitment doesn’t mean you can take each other for granted. It may become a habit.

198. Love is about many things but in any enduring relationship it ultimately involves sacrifice and the cross. What has my spouse sacrificed for me? (For example: time, career, hobbies, having his/her own way, where we live) Thank your spouse.

199. St Joseph is the patron saint of workers and foster parents. Value your spouse’s work today, whether it be paid or freely given for the good of the family. Have you ever considered being foster parents to a child in need?

200. “On their wedding night Tobias arose from bed and said to his wife, ‘Sister, get up. Let us pray.’” (Tobit 8:4) Few couples would interrupt their wedding night slumber to get up and pray. Find out why Tobias and Sarah did. Few couples have the nerve to pray together at any time. If couple prayer is new to you, experiment today. It may save your life. See Who Me? Pray With Her? for ideas.

201. "Marriage is a give-and-take experience, involving hurt and forgiveness, failure and sacrifice." (Follow the Way of Love) It's the Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection.

202. Arise! How do you like to get up in the morning? Are you a morning dove or groggy till noon. If you are blessed with good wake up genes and your spouse isn't, consider helping him or her ease into the day by bringing coffee or juice or some other morning ritual like playing gentle music.

203. A man tried everything he could think of to eradicate the weeds in his lawn. Finally, in desperation, he wrote to the Department of Agriculture, asking advice and listing every method he had tried. The reply? "We suggest you learn to love them!" (Anonymous) Does your spouse have any faults you can learn to love?

204. "Love is patient, love is kind." (1 Cor 13:4) Who is the more patient of the two of you? Is there something you've been waiting for your spouse to do - for a long time - and it's starting to bug you? If you've already mentioned it once be kind enough not to nag. If anything, try humor.

205. Employment outside the home not only provides necessary income and fulfillment, it can also bring temptations. Spouses may share many hours with members of the opposite sex who share their interests. Don't be surprised if you're attracted to people at work. It's natural. Naturally, however, put boundaries around the sanctity of your marriage lest anyone doubt that your spouse is your first priority.

206. Does your place of employment have "marriage friendly" work policies? Are spouses welcome at holiday parties or out of town conferences? Is it expected that employees will work substantially more than a 40 hour week? Are marriage relationships honored or threatened? Don't leave your marriage at the time clock.

207. (Mother's Day) Husbands, your wife is not your mother, but your mother probably set a tone for how you regard women. If it was a healthy model, thank your mother. If it wasn't, don't live in the past, change it.

208. If your employment is home based or you are a homemaker, you may have to create your own "marriage friendly" work policies. Agree as to when you will take work phone calls or when it is time to stop WORK and relax together. Of course, if you have young children, you don't fully control your time. You're always on call. Have the spouse who works "outside the home" spell you.

209. (Memorial Day) Today is a day to remember - remember not only those fallen in service but also your spouse to whom you've pledged mutual service. Serve your spouse something today - a cool drink, a meal, a favor, a massage, an errand.

210. Take your spouse to work today. Part 1. Do you have a photo or memento of your spouse visible at your work place? Let others know you're proud of your spouse?

211. Take your spouse to work today. Part 2. OK, so maybe you both work outside the home and it's not practical to take a day off to visit your honey's job. At least share something interesting about your job with your spouse today.

212. (Father's Day) Wives, your husband is not your father, but your father probably set a tone for how you regard men. If it was a healthy model, thank your father. If it wasn't, don't live in the past, change it.

213. "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body." (Gn 2:24) What a profound transition marriage is. Spouses do not stop loving their parents, but their focus changes. Likewise, if you have children, you love them with all your heart - but your spouse is still your priority.

214. On what day of the month were you married? Let that day each month be a mini-remembrance. Perhaps greet each other with "Happy June Anniversary" and a kiss.

215. Ever try to change a bad habit? It's hard to change and usually works best to start with small change. Is there one small habit your spouse would like you to change? Take one step.

216. What have you done for your marriage today? It's more than a rhetorical question. It's also the name of the website on marriage that the Catholic bishops have just launched. It's also for more than just Catholics. To get ideas on everything from Intimacy to Disillusionment check out www.ForYourMarriage.org.

217. Could your tongue use taming? Try not speaking ill of anyone today, including your spouse, even in jest. It's a start.

218. Love a child today. Even if you are not parents look for a way to care about a child today, especially one you don't have to love. The world needs its children and your love.

219. "For better or for worse" is not just a romantic phrase in the marriage vows. Sometimes it really can feel like the worst of times. At times we have to grieve the loss of our ideal marriage and see what we can still build together.

220. "When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls." (Proverbs 31:10) Maybe romantic words don't come easily to you. Sentiments of love, however, are ageless. Perhaps scripture can help you speak the priceless devotion you have for your wife.

221. "Hark! My lover - here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills." (Song of Songs 2:8) Sometimes plain human words can't fully express the passion a wife feels for her beloved. Images from scripture can sing your hearts desire.

222. In the heat of an argument, when you can only think about winning, try giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt. After all, deep down he or she does not want to hurt you. Wanting very badly to win, however, can cloud one's judgment.

223. Labor Day: "Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest. (Mt. 11:28). Most days we work hard and that is necessary to survive. You may have meals to prepare and kids to care for, but at the end of the day, take a moment to rest in your beloved's arms tonight.

224. Children can challenge a marriage. Differing ideas about discipline are a common point of contention. If you and your spouse disagree on a punishment, talk it over privately. If you agree to change it, let the parent who first set the consequence convey the change.

225. A funny thing happens when couples get into an argument. Often it degenerates into what communication experts call a "self summarizing syndrome." It means each partner just keeps repeating their own position in different words. Say it once, then try to understand your spouse's side.

226. Take a trip down memory lane. Remember your first real date with each other. Did you expect this relationship to go anywhere at the time? Share your memories of what you did together.

227. "Five tools that every good marriage uses to battle bad things are: ownership [taking responsibility for what you do], hope, empathy, forgiveness, and commitment." (Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot, When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages) Which of these is your strongest suit?

228. Love is an ongoing process of learning to let go of having something "my way." Most of us have at least a little stubborn streak in us. The scripture, "Be subject to one another" (Ephesians 5:21) calls us to grow up and give in - at least some of the time

229. Marc (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: "Why is he whispering in her mouth?" How comfortable are each of you with different kinds of public display of affection?

230. If you want to have a healthy marriage, hang around with other couples who value their marriage too. Nobody can guarantee happiness, but other couples' example, support, and lifestyle can help you build the kind of marriage you want.

231. (Halloween) Does anything frighten you about your spouse (his drinking, her diet, his stress level, her anger…)? If it's serious, summon the courage to talk about it. If it's humorous, laugh together over it. What has been your best Halloween memory?

232. Too many marital arguments get prolonged by defensiveness. Instead of continuing to justify your position, consider simply taking responsibility for your part in a problem and see how your spouse responds.

233. Christian marriage is a covenant not a contract. What's the difference? Contracts are 50-50 legal agreements which can be broken if one partner doesn't fulfill his or her part. A covenant is a promise that goes beyond 50-50. It calls us beyond the letter of the law.

234. Are you a golf widow or a social service widower? Yes, you can be married and still be a widower if you devote too much time to other causes. They might be very worthy, even necessary efforts. They might even be you children. Check your spouse's pulse for neglect.

235. What's the number one enemy of love? According to relationship coach, Gary Smalley, it's unresolved anger. Since you can't guarantee you'll never feel angry, it's best to work on the other end - resolving it constructively and lovingly. What's your strategy?236. A key Advent theme is WAITING for Jesus to come again into our world. What else have you had to wait for in life? Did you have to wait long for your beloved before you were married? Ponder those days.

237. “For richer or for poorer. . .” These words, said so easily during your wedding vows, may seem to haunt you during times of financial stress. Christmas is a time when too many families go into debt. Lavish gifts will not bring you happiness. Agree to make it simple this year.

238. “A husband always prefers his wife’s mother-in-law to his own.” (Anonymous) Think of one trait or talent that your mother-in-law or father-in-law passed on to your spouse for which you are grateful.

239. (Christmas Eve) As we remember the birth of Jesus on this Christmas Eve, let it be a call to honor our human nature. Christ honored humanity by humbly taking on our human condition. Allow yourself and your spouse to be human today; even to make mistakes.

240. (New Year’s Eve) Ask your spouse if there’s one little annoying habit that he/she would like you to work on changing. You don’t HAVE to do it, but the best part of a New Year’s resolution might be making an effort to please the one you love most.

2008

241. (Epiphany) The three magi’s search for Jesus reminds us that Jesus came for all humankind, not just the Jewish people. So too, married love is not a gift to be hoarded. Reach out to someone who is sad, in trouble, or from a different culture. Can you do it together?

242. Do you have a regular date night? Your calendar reflects your priorities. Consider penciling in “date night” once a week on your 2008 calendar. If something comes up you can switch it to another night that week. Do it now. The year will be over before you know it.

243. “Though I command languages both human and angelic – if I speak without love, I am no more than a booming gong.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) In other words, love is about more than pretty words. Say it with service or selflessness today.

244. Listening is not the same as being quiet. After the quiet must come an effort to show your spouse you understand. If you tend to be the less verbal spouse, make an effort to share your feelings and then show your partner that you understand his or her feelings and position.

245. Feb. 4: (Ash Wednesday, Feb. 6) Lent is about to begin. Instead of “giving up” something today, consider “giving in.” Is there some way you could yield to your spouse this Lent? Just don’t pick the same thing lest it become the cyclical, “Whatever YOU want; No, whatever YOU want…”

246. Feb. 11: As Valentine Day approaches, give your spouse a gift of memory. If you haven’t already, memorize your wedding vows, “I _____, take you, _____, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Few people like to memorize but it’s a way to keep your vow always in mind. Don’t be a chicken. Try it.

247. Feb. 18: Although almost 50% of marriages end in divorce, most of my readers have only been married once. If this applies to you, fight the temptation to feel superior. Hard work, grace, and a little luck all go into the mix. The next few MM’s will address the complicated challenges faced by couples in a second marriage.

248. Remarriage Tip (#1 of 3) The first step in making a second marriage work is to honestly face what contributed to the failure of the first. Maybe it really was mostly your ex's fault or immaturity. Regardless, reflect on what you contributed to the problems and how you will prevent a bad habit from repeating itself.

249. Remarriage Tip (#2 of 3) Don't dig up the past. If your "ex" manipulated, attacked, or cheated on you, don't presume that your new spouse will repeat the pattern. Give him or her the benefit of the doubt and slowly build trust unless proven otherwise.

250. Remarriage Tip (#3 of 3) Don't let your children become pawns in an unfinished match. No matter how much you feel your "ex" may be a cad or irresponsible, your children need to have their own relationship with your "ex" not tarnished by your biases. In time, they will see each parent's true character. Focus on honoring your new spouse, not putting down your "ex."

251. St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. It can also describe the unity of married love - husband, wife, and God working together to create a lasting union. When you see shamrocks today think about the invisible 3rd partner in your marriage.

252. Rejoice! Whether the time you spend with your spouse today be brief, long, or long distance, look at your beloved with fresh eyes. Recognize and remember why you promised to love each other forever. Although you can do this at any time, breaking bread at dinner might be a nice prompt.

253. Think of a way to be playful with your honey tomorrow. It may sound silly but a little prank my husband’s been doing lately is to move a rubber ducky around to different spots in the house and wait for me to notice it. Bringing a smile to your beloved’s face doesn’t take diamonds, just a little creativity.

254. “Married life teaches one invaluable lesson: to think of things far enough ahead not to say them.” (Jefferson Machamer) What have you said to your spouse that you’ve regretted? You can’t take the words back but it can help you slow down your speech.

255. Are you in a mixed religion marriage? Celebrate the commonalities and respect the differences. Rejoice if your spouse values a spiritual life even though it may be a different path than your own.

256. The blessing of being married many years is being comfortable and secure with each other The curse is also comfort and security. Is it time to shake up your routine? Eat at a different time. Make love in a different way. Bring roses on an ordinary day.

257. Even if you don’t consider yourself a spiritual or prayerful person, try praying for your spouse today. It won’t take but a moment after you read this and it can’t hurt. You might even get an answer to an unasked question.

258. Communication tip: If a verbal and non-verbal message conflict, the non-verbal message is always stronger. That’s why if you ask if anything is wrong and she says, “NO” but rolls her eyes, believe the eyes.

259. Communication tip: If a positive and negative message conflict, the negative message is always stronger. That’s why if you compliment your spouse but follow it with a complaint, he’ll focus on the complaint.

260. “Agree to disagree. Typical couples have 10 irreconcilable differences. When one of those comes up, you won’t have to repeat an old argument.” (Trudy Costa)

261. Just for today, pay attention to your breath, your spirit, your physical well being and be thankful for life no matter how fragile. Ask your spouse to remind you.

262. Communication is 55% non-verbal, 38% tone of voice, 7% words. (Mehrabian 1971) Have you ever been off the mark in reading your spouse’s non-verbals? It’s a less precise language but one that’s important to learn. Don’t just guess. Check it out verbally.

263. Fidelity in marriage is about more than just not having an affair. It means doing those daily acts of thoughtfulness that keep your relationship exciting and “affair proof.” So stop the video game or put down the paper when you spouse wants to talk. It’s cheap marriage insurance.

264. “People change and forget to tell each other.” (Lillian Hellman) Don’t wake up one day wondering where your love went. How have you changed this past year? Have you changed an opinion, a favorite food, your taste in music, your belief about faith?

265. For some couples children come easily. Others long for a child and wait painfully each month hoping to conceive. If you already have children, as tired or frustrated as you may be, pray for those who would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

266. A common recommendation to courting couples is to “marry your best friend.” Good advice but how does one measure a best friend? Scripture sets a high bar. “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends.” (John 15:13)

267. Summer camp is not just for the sake of the kids. It can also give parents a chance to have some private time and revitalize your marriage. Even if you still have other children at home, changing one person changes all the dynamics.

268. What’s a nightly walk have to do with your marriage vows? You vowed, “as long as we both shall live.” A walk can not only keep you healthy but help you stay connected intellectually and emotionally so that thoughts of divorce do not come creeping to your door.

269. “Couples with two jobs, two cars and two kids say they're often too tired, too stressed and too bored when they do manage to find one-on-one time.”(Dr. John Friel) If this sounds familiar do you have the courage to simplify your life? Just don’t get rid of the kids.

270. “The only thing that holds a marriage together is the husband being big enough to step back and see where the wife was wrong (Archie Bunker) When was the last time you were wrong – and admitted it?

271. When it’s hard to forgive a spouse who has “done you wrong,” try praying this way, "Oh Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I do." Now is the time for healing, not self-righteousness.

272. I’m too hot! I’m too cold! If you had to choose, which would you rather be? Trivial perhaps, but couples have to negotiate these creature comforts. How do you decide who gets their way when preferences conflict? Be grateful for furnaces or A/C today.

273. Studies indicate that the average couple spends only 20 minutes a day together. (Perhaps this only refers to direct relationship time; not sleeping, eating, chores). How much time will you spend with your spouse today? Do you need to increase “face time”?

274. On hot, muggy summer nights you might feel that the romance of your courtship is history. Summon up your energy and do something crazy, playful, and cooling. Run through a sprinkler, take a moonlit walk, catch fireflies. Be silly. If nothing else you’ll have a story to remember.

275. (Labor Day): Marriage educators often emphasize that it takes work to make a marriage last. Do a labor of love for your spouse today. It needn’t be onerous. A simple favor like getting a snack, running an errand, offering a back rub would be a nice start. Eventually everyday could be Labor Day.

276. Are you a morning person and your spouse is not? People have different prayer rhythms but for many couples first thing in the morning is a good time to pray before the tasks of the day complicate your schedule. Never prayed together? See Who Me, Pray? … With Her?

277. Many spouses share many hours with members of the opposite sex while on their job. Don’t be surprised if you’re attracted to people at work. It’s natural since presumably you share common interests. Naturally, however, set boundaries around the sanctity of your marriage lest anyone doubt that your spouse is your first priority.

278. If you’re a couple with young children, you can’t fully control your “off” time. You’re always on call. Spell each other generously.

279. “Love is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Cut your spouse a break today. This needn’t depend on worthiness or being deserving. Be generous. You might be the beneficiary of some lenience later.

280. You know your spouse is not perfect, but still it’s human to want him or her to be. Forgive an imperfection of your spouse today. It needn’t be major. It needn’t even be spoken.

281. Intimacy is not only sexual. It takes great trust to pour out your heart to God in the presence of your spouse. A beginning step may be a short period of silent meditation in each other's presence. Take a step today.

282. Being different can be good. What traits do you and your spouse have that are different yet complement each other? (Consider things like attention to detail vs. seeing the whole picture, quick thinker vs. thorough planner, extrovert vs. self-reflective...) Viva la difference!

283. Rejoice! Whether the time you spend with your spouse today be brief, long, or long distance, look at your beloved with fresh eyes. Recognize and remember why you promised to love each other forever. Although you can do this any time, breaking bread at dinner could be a prompt.

284. The election is at hand. Is it possible to love and respect those with different political opinions? Consider how you resolve serious differences of opinion with your spouse. Learn from your marriage. We must go on living together.

285. Divorced men and women can teach married couples a lot. Often they tell of taking their marriage for granted or being too busy making a living to live their vocation. Let their pain not be in vain.

286. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:24) What a profound transition marriage is. Of course you never stop loving your parents, but now you have a new first love.

287. (Thanksgiving) As you prepare for Thanksgiving this week, thank God for your spouse. Tell your spouse a specific quality that endears you to her or him. Remember, there are many people in our world still looking for love, still looking for a soul mate.

288. As we begin the holy season of Advent, Christians bump up against what the rest of the world regards as the holiday season. Who does most of the decorating, buying, cooking, and cleaning up around your home? Is it shared? Is it hectic? Is it too much? Simplify.

289. Dec. 8: (Immaculate Conception) How much do you know about your spouse’s first years of life? Just as from her earliest days, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was formed and filled with grace in preparation for becoming the mother of Jesus, so to your spouse’s childhood influenced his or her growth into the person you love – most of the time. Share an early memory with your spouse.

290. Don’t let the chaos that often accompanies the rush to Christmas disturb your calm and your love. If you find you’ve spoken harshly or impatiently to your spouse or child, ask God for increased peace and your spouse or child for forgiveness.

291. Dec. 22: (Winter Solstice) Last night was the longest night of the year. Dark nights can be cozy when warmed by love and candlelight. If this week finds you blessed with pleasant experiences of darkness, pray for those who aren’t.

292. Dec. 29: “On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me – five golden rings.” Really only one ring for each of you is necessary. Pause and look at your wedding ring today. Remember, it’s a sign of devotion not wealth.

2009

293. The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the three wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. Why not be wise and bring your spouse three compliments on Jan. 6. Consider your beloved’s physical appearance, a unique talent, and an act of kindness.

294. Before God and spouse we stand naked. There is no use hiding or pretending that we are something that we are not. Is there any pretense or baggage that I bring to my marriage that I need to let go of?

295. (Martin Luther King) What does it mean to be equal? Are both of you equally good at cooking, mechanical things, sewing, small talk? Probably not. Even though your spouse may have a natural talent for a particular task, try trading chores for a day. Just for fun.

296. Get out your wedding pictures. Reminisce about what you’ve been through together.

297. Feb. 2: (Ground Hog Day) In the spirit of the groundhog, develop your shadow side today. If you’re shy, make an overture to someone in need. If you’re not very affectionate, give your spouse an unexpected kiss or hug. If you’re a work-a-holic, take some time off to play together. You get the idea.

298. As Valentines’ Day approaches why not dig out the readings you used at your wedding. In a quiet moment read them to each other again and ponder what they mean to you now. If you can’t find them try 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13.

299. On anniversaries, the wise spouse always forgets the past, but never the present. (ACME Adage) What day of the month is your anniversary? Why not let that day be a mini-reminder of your love each month. No need for a present, just an acknowledgement; a look of love.

300. Mardi Gras allows us a last fling before the Lenten penitential season. Do something frivolous together today. Eat something decadent, give each other a massage, wear wild make-up, enjoy being foolish. If you’re the uptight type, let go. You’ll have six weeks to exercise your over-responsible side.

301. (Lent) “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) The mutual love, respect, and servanthood that this scripture refers to goes both ways. Look for a way to yield to your spouse today. Not all days, just today.

302. Humorists suggest that once couples marry they lose their freedom. True, we are not free to enter into other intimate relationships or to make important decisions based solely on our own desires. The tradeoff is the comfort of being loved unconditionally.

303. “Love is a decision.” (Marriage Encounter motto) Of course couples in love have strong feelings of attraction to each other, but keeping the love going takes an act of the will for emotions fade. With care, however, the emotions that accompany love can usually be rekindled.

304. Sometimes marital arguments get stirred up because one spouse leaps to a conclusion and imputes a bad motive to the spouse. Allow each other the benefit of the doubt until you’ve had time to sort it out together.

305. Take your spouse to work today. Do you have a photo or memento of your spouse visible at your work place? Let others know you’re proud of your spouse.

306. (Passion Sunday) What puts passion into your marriage? For newlyweds this may come easily. For others perhaps it's been awhile. Often rekindling romance is a matter of doing something new together. Start a new hobby, learn a new language, or at least a few loving words in a different tongue.

307. (Easter) Celebrate new life today! Are you waiting to have a child, caring for children or aging parents, resting from the rigors or childrearing? May Christ’s resurrection give you new life and energy for others.

308. How do you divide household chores? Neither males nor females are inherently better suited to cleaning the toilet. Consider dividing chores according to skill, interest, and time – not gender.

309. It’s so tempting when another insults or hurts you to reply in kind. Tempting, but not helpful to your marriage. It may seem counter-intuitive to suck it up, but it’s not a new idea. Consider the scripture “Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult.” (1Peter 3:9)

310. Resolving an argument: Strategy #1 CONCEDE. Seldom is it this easy but if the issue is really important to one partner and not to the other, consider this a gift to your spouse that will be returned in time. Next week – #2: COMPROMISE

311. Resolving an argument: Strategy #2 COMPROMISE. Marriage is all about compromise. Sometimes taking turns or finding a middle ground is acceptable. Try it before going on to the harder strategies. Next week – #3: CHANCE

312. Resolving an argument: Strategy #3 CHANCE. If it’s not a matter of importance or morality, flipping a coin can save time and a headache. Next week – #4: CO-EXIST

313. Resolving an argument: Strategy #4 CO-EXIST. When neither of you are willing to move from your position, it may be possible to simply agree to disagree. This way no one is wrong, but you agree to follow your own light as long as it doesn’t interfere with your spouse. Next week – #5: CREATE A NEW SOLUTION

314. Resolving an argument: Strategy #5 CREATE A NEW SOLUTION. If compromise or co-existing won’t work, try brainstorming new win/win solutions. It may take some time and creativity but consider the alternative – living in disharmony with each other.

315. “Let love be sincere.” (Romans 12:9) Who is the most sincere person you know? Ponder this virtue today and think of one sincere, loving comment you can make to your spouse before the sun goes down.

316. Do you and your spouse have different shopping personalities? Is he utilitarian while you are a recreational shopper? Are you a bargain hunter while she shops as therapy? Instead of getting annoyed with each other, try to understand.

317. In the spirit of learning new skills, try trading homemaking tasks for a day. It can bring new appreciation for the other. Even if the job doesn’t get done as well, it can provide a laugh.

318. How much money is really necessary to have a happy marriage? Some would say, “just a little bit more.” Living adequately but simply is an art that happy couples cultivate. Have you ever noticed that as your income rises it seems like your needs increase also?

319. “[Love] is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) Sure, you might be right. Yes, you might be justified in feeling offended. Nursing that grudge, however, will not heal your relationship. Get some distance then let go of negative feelings.

320. What’s the most important factor in choosing a spouse? Not even Solomon should attempt to answer this, but consider the following three ingredients: physical attraction + shared values + full commitment = a chance to make marriage work.

321. Marriage is like owning a car. Preventive maintenance (enrichment, paying attention to the little grumblings, counseling before it's broken) can save a big repair bill later. Besides it's more fun to have your marriage run smoothly. Regular tune ups are the secret.

322. As much as married couples need to devote themselves wholeheartedly to their marriage, “Nothing – not even divorce or death – can place limits upon God’s gracious love.” (Follow the Way of Love). Strive to love your spouse as God does.

323. “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality.” (Hebrews 13:1) The love you share is a gift that will grow bigger and deeper if you share it with others. Don’t hoard your love. Think of ways you can open your home to those in need of a bed, some food, or a listening ear.

324. Dates don’t always have to be in the evening. Consider a lunch date. It’s cheaper than dinner and if your kids are in school you don’t have to get a babysitter.

325. Don’t be too proud. The wise couple seeks help as soon as you notice that something is amiss. Whether it’s counseling, a special program, or seeking the support of friends or a faith community, it’s a sign of wisdom to realize that you can’t do this thing called marriage alone.

326. Is your marriage going well? Great! Maybe it’s time to give back. Consider passing on your hard earned wisdom as a mentor to engaged couples or taking leadership in a marriage enrichment program. If you are blessed you have responsibilities.

327. “Never go to bed angry” is a maxim of many successfully married couples. But what if an argument drags on and you’re only getting less agreeable with each other. It’s OK to call a time out, set a time to reconnect the next day when you’re fresher and have had time to cool off.

328. Christian marriage is not a 50/50 equal and legal contract. It’s a covenant which means that each spouse promises to give unreservedly – 100%. It’s not good math but it helps you beat the odds of divorce.

329. Jesus literally laid down his life for us. We also lay down our lives, however, when we put our spouse’s comfort before our own, when we let go of having the last word in an argument, or when we labor for the family.

330. Sept. 21 is the Fall Equinox which means the hours of daylight equals the hours of darkness. How much balance is there in your marriage? Does one of you talk a lot more than the other? It might just be a matter of different personality styles but check out whether each of you needs to move closer to the middle. One might bite the tongue more while the other makes the effort to share more.

331. Want a healthy marriage? Take regular walks together. It might start as a way to get exercise but the real benefit is the couple time. You don’t need to be constantly talking, but some conversation will probably slip out between your steps.

332. A recent Harris poll found that nearly 50% of women and 30% of men would rather go without sex for two weeks than give up internet access. Although a lot depends on your age, work, and income, talk with each other about how you feel about this statistic. What would your answer be? Why?

333. Honor your mate's personality difference. Although the trait that you loved when you were dating can annoy you when you live with it 24/7, use your differences to develop your shadow side and become a fuller person.

334. Can’t find the right words to talk over a sensitive subject with your spouse. Consider talking with your father first – God the Father, that is. Sometimes the quiet of prayer can help us find the words we need.

335. When can sexual attraction towards someone other than your spouse be a good thing? When it alerts you to something missing in your marriage. Identify the quality that you’re drawn to and try to make it live again in your marriage. You don’t need a new person, just new eyes for your spouse.

 


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Susan Vogt
Author, Speaker, Coach
523 E. Southern Ave. : Covington, KY 41015
Phone: (859) 291-6197 : Fax: (859) 291-4742
E-Mail: SusanVogt1@gmail.com : Website: www.SusanVogt.net