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My wife said that after Mass last week, our pastor approached her and said he was trying to start a Pre-Cana class at our parish.  We are definitely one of the more traditional parishes since we have the TLM, and he says the Pre-Cana program is often badly done.  It's required of every couple wanting to get married in our diocese, so you have orthodox Catholic couples who want to follow the Church's teachings, and then you have couples who are living together, in mixed marriages, and coming from a secular mindset.  So my priest figures this is a good shot at exposing them to church teaching. 

So he asked my wife and I to be a "Catechist Couple" (whatever THAT is) and the topics are "Living the Sacrament of Matrimony," Communicaton, Intimacy, Morality, NFP, "self awareness" blah blah blah.  I'm not sure what talk we'll end up giving, but it will have something to do with one of those topics.  Honestly, I am the last person I would expect would be asked to do any kind of talk on marriage... I always imagined our priest leaving our house when he came to visit saying "What an F*'ed up family that is!"

So my question to you all is, what is something you wish someone told you when you were engaged?  Is there anything you would have done differently in those early years of marriage? 

My list:

Pray together. That'd be the first thing I'd say, I think. Prayer in the couple's own words (in addition to formal prayers, if desired). I think prayer in the couple's own words is really important.

Figure out the other's most basic, primal need and try to fulfill it. There's a pop-psych book out there that I haven't read (I don't typically read such books), but have read about and which at least seems (from what I've read) to have an important concept to convey. It has to do with "love languages," the idea of which is that different people feel loved in different ways. Some folks feel loved most of all through physical touch. Some feel most loved by words. Some feel it if the other spends lots of time with them. The other two languages laid out in that book are "acts of service" and "receiving gifts." There may be more, who knows? But the idea of figuring out what it is that makes the other feel loved and then trying to give that to them -- that's the general idea. Folks tend to love others in the ways they themselves want to be loved -- a person who's into physical touch might do a lot of touching, but not spend regular time with the other -- but if the person being touched really "needs" for that person to spend TIME with him rather than being touched, the person doing the touching is wasting his time and will end up frustrated, wondering why the other isn't happy. "I love being touched all the time, and I touch him a lot! Why isn't
he happy?!" And the person who wants TIME is trying to be with the toucher all the time, wondering why her/his spouse is miserable since s/he's doing all s/he can to spend time with the other so that person will feel loved. Wrong "love language," to use the pop-psych term for it. It makes a lot of sense to me.

Discuss child-rearing, discipline, family rules, and expectations about all that before walking down the aisle.

Figure out if you're financially compatible in terms of how you think about and deal with money.

Figure out what each of you expect of the other in terms of sex roles, outside work, work around the house, etc.

Make sure the sex is good and stays good. Talk.

Discuss habits/behaviors that drive you up a wall and determine if it's all "doable" for the other to respect your feelings about them. If one of you likes a house run military-style, and the other is a bit of a slob, you two will likely be miserable no matter what else you've got going for you if you don't work something out first.

Pre-determine how to deal with conflict, and talk about things you can do to avoid having fights escalate (e.g., "Don't go to bed mad," for some folks, or "during a conflict, we have to hold hands while talking," or whatever).

Discuss family traditions you want to preserve and adopt as your own, or start together, how you want to do the holiday and birthday stuff.

Discuss how you would handle things if either of your parents were to become ill and needed care, to move in with you, etc.

Determine that you, as a couple, come before all else but God. Even, yes, your own kids. You are the two made one. Your kids will grow up and leave you. And the best thing you can give them are happy parents who put each other first in temporal terms.

(03-15-2014, 11:50 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]Pre-determine how to deal with conflict, and talk about things you can do to avoid having fights escalate (e.g., "Don't go to bed mad," for some folks, or "during a conflict, we have to hold hands while talking," or whatever).

THis was a big one for us.  My wife read a lot of marriage preparation books, as she came from an abusive home & her parents divorced.  So reading about what a healthy marriage should look like was very important for her, and a lot of the books on marriage said "never go to bed angry."  For some reason, she always always started arguments right around 9pm, when my brain was starting to shut down.  when I was working full time I didn't really like thinking past 8pm and was trying to get relaxed after a long day.  For me, the solution to anger is to go to bed because I am too tired to think clearly enough to deal with it.  My wife at the time was a night owl and would just argue at me until I fell over.  I think she had this fear of going to bed angry because (A) the books on marriage all told her that this was really important, and she didn't have any tangible life experience w/ healthy relationships to balance this out, and (B) she had divorced parents, and every time we fought, she would be so worried I'd leave her that she wouldn't be able to sleep.  I definitely wish I realized how much our arguments (and my anger) shook up the foundation of her world.  What ended up working for us, was I would usually reassure her that "I love you and will not leave you, I just really disagree with you about ______ and we're not having any more conversations about it until I've had some sleep."  My wife also got better at not bringing up thorny issues late in the evening. 

I think I compared my marriage to other marriages too much.  It is easy to imagine what another person's life looks like from the outside but you really don't know what the other couple deals with, and how radically different it is from your situation.  I definitely compared her to my mother a lot more than i should have.  Apparently women really hate it when you compare them to your mother.   Unsure
(03-16-2014, 12:32 AM)Chestertonian Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-15-2014, 11:50 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]Pre-determine how to deal with conflict, and talk about things you can do to avoid having fights escalate (e.g., "Don't go to bed mad," for some folks, or "during a conflict, we have to hold hands while talking," or whatever).

THis was a big one for us.  My wife read a lot of marriage preparation books, as she came from an abusive home & her parents divorced.  So reading about what a healthy marriage should look like was very important for her, and a lot of the books on marriage said "never go to bed angry."  For some reason, she always always started arguments right around 9pm, when my brain was starting to shut down. 

Gosh, that doesn't sound familiar at all. Nope, not at allUntruth

(03-16-2014, 12:32 AM)Chestertonian Wrote: [ -> ]when I was working full time I didn't really like thinking past 8pm and was trying to get relaxed after a long day.  For me, the solution to anger is to go to bed because I am too tired to think clearly enough to deal with it.  My wife at the time was a night owl and would just argue at me until I fell over.  I think she had this fear of going to bed angry because (A) the books on marriage all told her that this was really important,

That's a problem with a lot of "marriage books" and advice in general. They tend to be "one size fits all." Not a good thing...

(03-16-2014, 12:32 AM)Chestertonian Wrote: [ -> ]and she didn't have any tangible life experience w/ healthy relationships to balance this out, and (B) she had divorced parents, and every time we fought, she would be so worried I'd leave her that she wouldn't be able to sleep.  I definitely wish I realized how much our arguments (and my anger) shook up the foundation of her world.  What ended up working for us, was I would usually reassure her that "I love you and will not leave you, I just really disagree with you about ______ and we're not having any more conversations about it until I've had some sleep."  My wife also got better at not bringing up thorny issues late in the evening. 

Beauteous! You TALKED and figured each other out and coped Smile

(03-16-2014, 12:32 AM)Chestertonian Wrote: [ -> ]I think I compared my marriage to other marriages too much.  It is easy to imagine what another person's life looks like from the outside but you really don't know what the other couple deals with, and how radically different it is from your situation.  I definitely compared her to my mother a lot more than i should have.  Apparently women really hate it when you compare them to your mother.   Unsure

-- or to any other woman. Just so the folks reading over our shoulders know LOL

Yeah, that's a good point, though, about not seeing your marriage as being in some sort of competition with other marriages. Like you said, a lot of marriages look great from the outside, but we can't have any idea as to what goes on behind closed doors, how each half of the couple really feels, and the specifics of the situations other couples are in (or the specifics of the situations each half of other couples come from and how that affects them and everything else that touches their lives!). Goes back to the standard advice around here: focus on yourselves and your own lives and striving for holiness, and let God sort it all out.

You know, I wanted to say this the other day -- I can't remember the exact post that brought on the thought -- but I am a fan of your wife. From everything you've said about her, she must be one HECK'VA woman. And it's obvious (ahem, per the above, at least from the outside LOL), that you two love each other a LOT. If the appearances line up with the reality (and I am not questioning anything or assuming they don't, of course!), then you two have something so very, very special together. It's just really cool to hear you talk about her and your marriage and how you feel about her. You've got what everyone not-called-to-celibacy wants, it seems. Bless the both o' yas!

(03-16-2014, 01:21 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]You know, I wanted to say this the other day -- I can't remember the exact post that brought on the thought -- but I am a fan of your wife. From everything you've said about her, she must be one HECK'VA woman. And it's obvious (ahem, per the above, at least from the outside LOL), that you two love each other a LOT. If the appearances line up with the reality (and I am not questioning anything or assuming they don't, of course!), then you two have something so very, very special together. It's just really cool to hear you talk about her and your marriage and how you feel about her. You've got what everyone not-called-to-celibacy wants, it seems. Bless the both o' yas!

I definitely hit the lottery when it comes to spouses.  There have been a lot of circumstances in both of our lives that make it seem like I got a raw deal, but she definitely makes me feel like the luckiest man on earth in spite of the other stuff I have going on. 
(03-17-2014, 01:02 AM)Chestertonian Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-16-2014, 01:21 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]You know, I wanted to say this the other day -- I can't remember the exact post that brought on the thought -- but I am a fan of your wife. From everything you've said about her, she must be one HECK'VA woman. And it's obvious (ahem, per the above, at least from the outside LOL), that you two love each other a LOT. If the appearances line up with the reality (and I am not questioning anything or assuming they don't, of course!), then you two have something so very, very special together. It's just really cool to hear you talk about her and your marriage and how you feel about her. You've got what everyone not-called-to-celibacy wants, it seems. Bless the both o' yas!

I definitely hit the lottery when it comes to spouses.  There have been a lot of circumstances in both of our lives that make it seem like I got a raw deal, but she definitely makes me feel like the luckiest man on earth in spite of the other stuff I have going on. 

I know you're just using a turn of a phrase by talking about "hitting the lottery" when it comes to you marriage, but, as I'm sure you know, lottery's got nothing to do with it. You two, at least from the outside, are GOOD to each other, and luck's got nothing to do with that. That's grace. And it's beautiful to see.

Yes, I wish I knew that although not actually spoken in the vow formulae, the ability to read your spouse's mind is implicitly understood as part of the marriage contract  LOL
My advice:

- Women are entirely rational creatures and never emotional.  There is no need to ever sugar-coat constructive criticism, for example: she can take it.

- Women like honesty.  If you see another women you think is attractive, you should mention it.  She will be genuinely interested, even in the specific physical features of the other woman you find beautiful.

- Women love caring for children and housework more than anything.  They don't need or want help with these things, ever.  They don't need breaks from these things, even on weekends.


Seriously: pray together.  And pray yourself to be the best husband & father you can be, every day.  Say novenas for these causes during times of strife, if they occur (St. Joseph is great for these causes!).

No marriage survives without grace.  And marriage, like all things important in this life, is work.  But it can be joyful work.
This may be obvious, but make sure you are compatible in the religious area. My wife and I have been married over a year now and this is our only real point of contention. My wife is basically a CINO and it has been difficult for us.
(03-19-2014, 01:48 AM)damooster Wrote: [ -> ]This may be obvious, but make sure you are compatible in the religious area. My wife and I have been married over a year now and this is our only real point of contention. My wife is basically a CINO and it has been difficult for us.

Keep praying, and she'll come along eventually, especially if you have children (She'll want to be a good example to them).

Start saying the rosary with the children, pray to Our Lady for her, eventually she'll join in and before you know it nightly family rosary will be a tradition in your home.

Explore attending a more reverent parish, or TLM if you have one nearby, once your wife starts socializing with other more traditionally-minded people she'll begin to feel more at home with her Catholic heritage, and grow to love it.

I'll pray for your intentions in bringing your "CINO" wife around to the fullness of our faith.   Pray
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