April 20, 2012

Happy Spring, Married Friends;

I'm happy to send you the Work On Your Marriage Newsletter that we are trying to get out every other month. You are receiving it because either you once attended a marriage workshop or retreat that I organized or you signed up for it. Hope you enjoy it. Please send me your thoughts and comments as well as let me know if you would like to be removed from this mailing. (There is an "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email.)

Pentecost is coming. May the Holy Spirit fill up your marriage with great faith, hope, and love!


Get Political: Work on Your Marriage!

Folks, its election year and marriage and politics are in the news. As well they should be, because the most important political issue related to marriage is before us: increasing the number of successful marriages and decreasing the number of marriage failures.

Yes, I know, there are no politicians saying this and it will not be on any political parties' platform come the fall election. But, consider this:

Succeeding in your marriage is the most important political act you will ever do!

When I write "political," of course, I am not referring to being a Republican or Democrat, but to the impact of your marriage on the civic community, even if you are not that involved in your community!

Just imagine that you've created a home where love, forgiveness, and working together form a consistent pattern of your family life. Your children leave home ready to do the work at hand, consider other children's needs, work together in teams, and forgive when they've been hurt at school, on the athletic field, and in their voluntary commitments. Perhaps they do not do this all the time, but they do this most of the time, and it becomes the pattern of their lives outside the home, because it is the pattern in their home.

And when you leave that home to go to work, you are more prepared to be the same sort of cooperative, give-and-take, affirming, forgiving, and effective problem solver that you are at home in your relationships with your boss, colleagues, and clients. And when you volunteer with the Kiwanis, teach CCD at the church, or take your turn on the PTA, you bring those effective relationship skills practiced at home to your volunteer commitments.

And because you are successful in your marriage along with 50 percent of the rest of the couples who send kids to the school your kids attend, and go to the church that you go to, and participate in the civic community in which you also are living, that school, and that church, and that civic community is succeeding.

This does not mean that single parents are not also contributing to the success of their schools, churches, and communities. They most certainly are, but research shows that they are doing so with much less success than their married counterparts. Children who are suffering through the divorce of their parents bring the stress of their home life to school. They are less focused, less cooperative, and less prepared to learn.

The same is true for the individuals going through a divorce (or break-up of a co-habiting relationship). During the destabilizing period leading to and following this break-up, they are less focused and productive at work, take more sick leave, and suck time and emotional energy from their colleagues and supervisors who are trying to support and cover for them during this crisis.

A friend who had just completed certification as a public school teacher took a job a 40-minute drive from Yakima because she wanted to work with a particular principal of a grade school there. However, after four months of teaching, her expectations were not met. I asked her how it was going. "Awful!" she said, "I never see the principal. I thought he would be an amazing person to work with and would be a very supportive boss, but I never see him. Finally I just decided to walk in his office and have a talk. When I did I found him incapacitated with grief. He was going through a divorce."

This does not mean that all marriages ought to be saved at all costs. It does mean that successful marriages have an impact on society far beyond the narrow needs of the couple. Successful marriages create successful families which are the foundation for neighborhoods, schools, churches, and civic communities to succeed.

Successful marriages need to be greatly increased while marriage failures need to be greatly decreased. And the best way to greatly increase the success of marriages is to work on your marriage to ensure that it is a marriage success.

You can work on your marriage as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Green-ish or non-affiliate; the results will be the same. You will contribute to a better family, neighborhood, church, school, city, state, and nation. Succeeding in your marriage will be the most important political act you will ever do. So, during this election year, get political and WORK ON YOUR MARRIAGE!

Following is a testimony by Karen and Aron Gorham of Frederick, Maryland

Shouldn’t it be true that after almost 15 years of marriage, as a couple we would think alike? Well, we don’t. After Robert asked us to share a bit about our marriage, my husband Aron and I each went to work writing. We thought it would be easy enough to blend the two. Boy were we wrong! In fact, we didn’t even see the term “marriage” in the same way. Aron is an engineer, a numbers and detail person, one who gathers all the facts and puts them in order. He defined our marriage as our story, a chronology of our time together and events that shaped our lives. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three boys and I homeschool them all. I saw marriage as our relationship, the way we communicate and work together. How is it then that we can have a successful marriage if we can’t even define it in the same terms?

COMPROMISE. That is the story of our relationship, our story and our journey in life together, yes, our marriage. I came from a strong Catholic background. Even though I wasn’t a cradle Catholic, I was baptized at eight years old when my mom joined the RCIA, I had a few years of Catholic school. I watched my parents become involved in all sorts of organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul and the Secular Franciscans. I was proud of my Catholic faith.

Aron, on the other hand, grew up in a nondenominational Christian church. He went to Christian school all his life and had a negative view of any organized religion. When we met in college and started dating, religion was never really a topic of concern. I think we both thought each other would change their mind. A compromise was reached when we were married in the Catholic church by a deacon and Aron’s minister.

By the time that we started to have children, things became more difficult. In our premarital counseling with the deacon, Aron realized that to be married in the church meant to agree to raise our children Catholic. This was a difficult decision for him and I conceded to let him emphasize the Scriptures and make sure they each had a personal relationship with Jesus. Stating this agreement was difficult enough, but putting it into practice was another thing altogether. We had to examine our beliefs and defend them, which in turn made them so much stronger. Compromise was, and still is, a delicate balance of respect and love without hurting or criticizing each other.

The hard part about compromise it giving up something. The wonderful part about compromise in marriage is that you gain so much more. I have more respect for Aron that he loves me so much that he is willing to compromise. I have a home that is united in our love for God and commitment to serve Him. I have children who have learned not to just repeat prayers but to concentrate on each and every word of them. I have a marriage in which we can celebrate each other and not try to change each other.

Did you know?

(Research on Marriage)

The question was raised, "What helps men mature?" Certainly men and women mature when they take on responsibility, but a line seems to be drawn around having children. The vast majority of women, even those who are young when they become mothers, are able to think of the child's needs before their own.

The same is not true for most men. There are entire communities where men have fathered children and have not stayed to help raise them. For example, a 2004 study revealed that 50 percent of African American children lived in mother-only homes. This does not mean that the absent father is a black phenomena. As of 2001, every fifth white child under 18 was living in a single-parent home. Furthermore, roughly a third of America's white children were living in a home without both biological parents -- and 2 percent to 3 percent of white children lived with neither biological parent.

If becoming a parent does not help a man mature, what does? Hands down: marriage. Research shows that when men become good husbands, they become good men. Apparently, when men can discipline their sexual energy and direct it towards their wife in a mutually satisfying way, it liberates them to be their best selves at work, in the community, and, most importantly, with their children.

This does not mean that single men cannot be good fathers and be positive members of the community. It does mean that marriage matters. Most men need a committed relationship with a woman in marriage to help them let go of immature, self-centered behavior and place their gifts and talents at the service of the family and wider community. (Source - The Case for Marriage, by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, p. 29)

Upcoming Opportunities for you to
Work on Your Marriage

May 12... Discover the Amazing Gift of Your Marriage Workshop at Camp Brotherhood, Mt. Vernon, WA
You will rediscover the many ways your marriage is a gift in your life and learn more effective ways to listen, speak without fighting, and grow in love and friendship. Time: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. To register: go to AmazingGiftofMarriage.com

May 22 (Tues Night)... The Eucharistic Marriage - Marriage Enrichment Night for Couples at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. Call Ashton Mouton for details: (337) 232-4656.

May 23 (Weds Night)... The Marriage Jackpot - Enrichment Night for Couples at Sacred Heart Church, Broussard, Louisiana. Call Fr. Louie Richard for details: (337) 837-1864.

May 24 (Thurs Night)... The Marriage Jackpot Date Night, Queen of Peace Church, Lafayette, Louisiana. Call Fr. Hampton Davis for details (337) 233-1591.

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