Hidden Treasure

MARRIAGE IS AN AMAZING GIFT!  We, Lori and Robert, have been happily married since 1978; do the math! We wrote, "happily married," not "perfectly married." Of course it has not all been a proverbial bed of roses; there have been many difficult times for sure. However, we not only weathered and survived these challenges, we grew from them. Our difficulties and troubles became occasions for us to work on our marriage (and in the early days, there were many occasions to work on our marriage). We learned through conflict how to be less selfish, more loving, and wiser in our life together.

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Most importantly, we could not have succeeded on our own. From the beginning of our relationship, we knew that God had to be at the center and that we needed the support of family and friends especially those who were part of our community of faith. And guess what? We are a marriage success -not a perfect marriage, but a successful one. We have found the "treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:44-45).

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.

We have "sold all that we have" to possess this hidden treasure, meaning that we have committed all of our resources to succeeding in marriage and have refused to allow any person, place, or thing to keep us from doing so. And we have reaped the rewards from this hidden treasure that money cannot buy: a happy life!

How do we know that we are happy? Because joy, love, peace, patience, self-control, generosity, self-denial-the fruits of a happy life described by St. Paul (Galatians 5:22)-are present in our lives. Not all the time, and not without times of suffering and trauma, but they are present enough for us to say they form a pattern in our lives.

WE REALLY ENJOY BEING MARRIED, and we are not alone! Lots of couples enjoy being married. University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, in their book The Case for Marriage (2000), explain why couples like us enjoy being married. Waite and Gallagher reviewed studies from across the country that compared couples in successful marriages with individuals and couples who are single, divorced, or cohabiting. Couples who are married come out ahead in almost every category.

  • You want to have greater wealth? Succeed in marriage.
  • You want to live a long life? Succeed in marriage.
  • You want emotional and physical well-being? Succeed in marriage.
  • You want healthy children prepared to be successful adults? Succeed in marriage.
  • You want strong churches, safe neighborhoods, and successful schools? Succeed in marriage.
  • Last but not least, you want great sex that is thoroughly satisfying and mutually enriching?

It is absolutely clear that a successful marriage is the proverbial "jackpot" in life. In Christian terms it is "the treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great price." By this I mean couples who succeed in marriage participate in what Jesus described as the Kingdom of God budding forth on earth. A successful marriage brings about concrete and specific benefits to couples that simply cannot be bought. These benefits mentioned above are the result of two people making the commitment to one another and working on their marriage until death do they part.

Marriage, of course, was not invented by the great religions of the world - including Catholic Christianity. It pre-dates all religions. Judaism, followed by Christianity, has given the world a unique perspective on marriage. Our common faith teaches us that marriage is not merely part of the social, evolutionary biology of the human species. It is an institution given to us by God to help us live out the truth of our existence - we are creatures made in God's image and likeness. We are made to give and receive love and create life in a way remarkably like our Creator (see Genesis 1-2).

From Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago...

In this engaging workbook, "Hidden Treasure," Lori and Robert Fontana speak about the richness of a marriage covenant in which a husband and wife freely and totally give themselves to each other and
are open to God's gift of life.  They bring together, in one thought-provoking chapter after another, passages from Scripture, Church teaching about the Sacrament of Marriage, recent research about married life, humorous and insightful stories, and the personal experiences of a husband and wife who have been living a Catholic marriage day by day for over three decades.  Through this resource, Lori and Robert witness to the rewards and sacrifices of marriage in a way that will encourage other husbands and wives to give themselves more completely to each other and to the Lord.

This book is about the amazing gift of marriage from the Catholic perspective. It is not a book for Catholics only, but for anyone who wants to be successful in marriage. Because the core principals of a Catholic marriage are universal, anyone practicing them will succeed in marriage. Successful marriages do not just happen. Couples have to be intentional about working on their marriages every day of every week, year after year. In their book Bull's-eye Marriage, my brother and sister-in-law, Francis and Sara Fontana, use the image of targeting the bull's-eye to challenge their readers to "develop a clear concise mental picture of a great marriage and then strive for that."

This is also a workbook for you to use to help you and your spouse discover the great gift of your relationship and give you insights on how to make it better. You will gain the most from this book by reading it together as a couple and doing the couple exercises, relationship assessments, and inventories that are included in each chapter. (A second set of assessments is provided at the end of the book to make it easier for each member of the couple to complete them separately. These may be torn from the book to be completed.)

THIS IS IMPORTANT: The purpose of these couple activities, assessments and inventories is to get you to listen to one another so that you understand each other. It is not to win an argument, persuade your spouse to your point of view, or even problem-solve. (That will come later.) The purpose is to help you get in the habit of listening carefully to one another so that you fully understand each other before you begin to problem-solve. Be sure to invite one another to explain any aspects of the inventories that show differences between the two of you, or that one of you simply does not understand.

Lastly, this book includes our marriage experiences when it needs to. We will tell our story as it seems appropriate and helpful - and encourage you to tell each other your stories.

If you are in a successful marriage, you have won the "lottery of life!" You are rich beyond measure. And the greatest benefit of your marriage success is something that money could never buy: the peace of mind, friendship, personal satisfaction, and joy that come from the giving and receiving of love over a lifetime with your spouse.

From Kirkus Reviews...

Genuine, accessible advice on strengthening a marriage through communication.

The Fontanas’ debut relationship title delivers a powerful message: “When a marriage succeeds, the nation succeeds. Strong marriages, including yours, are good for EVERYONE!” The authors then explain how. Each chapter after the first explores a relevant topic and presents accompanying worksheets for couples to fill out and discuss. Topics range from the obvious—children, money, sex, etc.—to deeper issues such as different communication styles. The Fontanas include extensive, broadly applicable discussion questions and worksheets for newly married couples, those considering marriage and partners experiencing a rough patch. Nontraditional couples remain unmentioned, and same-sex attraction is only addressed as a potential “issue” to “overcome.” The Fontanas write from a Catholic perspective; they recommend natural family planning and barely explore other pregnancy strategies. They frequently remind readers of their obligations to charity and community service, and a chapter highlights marriage vows in relation to the church and a couple’s obligations to their religious community. Despite such an obvious religious perspective, a friendly and welcoming charm  pervades each section. Even the chapter on sex within marriage doesn’t shy away from issues of satisfaction and mutual understanding of each other’s particular needs. Of particular interest is the authors’ emphasis on what they term “a straight message”—clear, nonjudgmental language to convey information, especially with regard to sensitive or controversial topics for the couple. Another sharp insight suggests that clear communication can be subconsciously impeded when couples don’t understand the differing ways they prefer to be loved. Without realizing it, a person will usually show love to his or her spouse in the manner he or she wishes to receive love rather than the style of  loving to which the partner responds best: through kindness, for example, or through spending time together or touch. The simple exercises here should bring couples closer by helping them  learn about each other and themselves in life and love.

Hidden Treasure: A Workbook to Help You Discover the Amazing Gift of Your Marriage
by Robert and Lori Fontana

Table of Contents:

  •  Hidden Treasure
  • The Marriage Jackpot and the 
  • The Amazing Gift of Your Marriage
  • The Struggle of Marriage in America
  • Taming the Tongue
  • Marriage Wisdom from Catholics
  • Here Comes Everybody
  • Fidelity, Love, and Honor
  • The Imperfect Couple   
  • Marriage is Good for Sex
  • Money Matters
  • Holy Communion over a Lifetime
  • Your Future Together

Epilogue - Marriage and the Kingdom of God
Additional Assessments and Inventories

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