January 10, 2013

Catholic Marriage Series - Guest Post: Lessons Learned Over a Decade of Marriage

I am absolutely thrilled to share another guest post as part of the Catholic Marriage Series! I came across Colleen's blog this week, fell in love with it, and was so excited when she asked if she could write a post for the series. Just read through the posts on her blog, and you will see all the love that's present in her home. She is truly an inspirational role model for Catholic women, wives, and mothers.  You all are going to love the advice she gives after 10 years of experience with marriage! 


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My handsome, charming and brilliant husband and I met in Austria in January of 2000.  We both attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, but never met on campus in Ohio because I was a junior and he was a sophomore and I was an accounting major and he was a Theology major.  We ran in completely different circles!  God knew he had to send us to Europe to meet and start a romantic courtship that is still going strong 13 years later.
When I first met Phil, I liked him right away, but unfortunately I was seriously dating someone from back home at the time.  About a week into getting to know Phil, I told my roommate that I wanted to marry a man just like him.  And I knew that meant breaking up with my boyfriend from back home, over the phone, from a continent far, far away.  Can you say “bad girlfriend?” Yes, that was me.  I casually mentioned to Phil that I was now single, and he waited a couple of weeks before officially asking me out right before my 21st birthday.
A few weeks after we were dating, he finally got up the nerve to kiss me in Assisi!  I was wondering what was taking so long, and then he explained that I was his first girlfriend and first kiss.  How sweet!  We were able to travel together throughout Europe with a group of friends, and Phil was always the perfect gentleman.  One of my fondest memories is when we were in Italy and he let me know that he wasn’t planning to do anything more than kiss me until the day we were married.  We were both practicing Catholics, and while we knew sex should be saved for marriage, to have the man be the one to communicate it was just beautiful.  Be still my heart!
And wait until our wedding night we did.  We learned a lot of patience and self-control over the two years of dating and engagement, and our honeymoon truly was magical.  Even now, at over ten years of marriage, the physical love that we share is so powerful and somehow continues to improve year after year.  We never stop learning about one another and trying to put the other one first.

Getting married young (I was 23 and he was 21) and having our first baby 9 months after our wedding day was honestly the perfect plan God could have laid out for us.  We never got set in our own ways or felt that children would detract from life as we knew it.  We started our adult life together, and became parents immediately, and have never known anything else.  We have struggled financially for most of our marriage and been blessed with more than one surprise pregnancy!  We now have five of the most awesome children I’ve ever met.
Has it been an easy ride?  Not at every moment, but honestly, with such a strong and wonderful partner at my side, it has been so much fun!

And so without further ado, the top ten things I’ve learned in ten years of marriage:

1) Finding a partner with the same values and morals as you is KEY to being happy together.  You can have different tastes in music, clothes, hobbies, etc. but if you don’t agree on basic values then there will be many, many disagreements in the house!

2) If possible, have kids soon.  I think having children really gave our marriage a purpose.  We promised at our wedding to accept them lovingly and we were lucky to conceive very easily.  We have the energy now to raise them and look forward to the possibility of being young grandparents as well.  I know some people say you should get to know each other before starting a family, but that’s what dating and engagements are for.  Marriage is for family.

3) If possible, have lots of kids.  Again, this is just my personal recommendation.  But we agree with John Paul II’s statement that a sibling is the best gift you can give your child.  Having one child is much harder than having two because they want all your attention, but once they have a sibling, boom!  Instant playmate for life!

4) Wives, be generous to your husbands.  You know what I’m talking about ;)  And husbands, be generous to your wives.  You also know what I’m talking about.

5)  Use Natural Family Planning when spacing out your family.  It’s healthy, natural, free, and completely open to God’s Will in planning your family size.  The times of abstinence make the times of togetherness that much better!

6) Thank your spouse.  There have been plenty of occasions where I take for granted all the little ways Phil serves our family, and then when I have to take over one of his duties, I finally remember to thank him for all he does.

7) Never stop flirting!  We text each other messages during the day, send pictures of something cute the kids are doing, or do something special to let the other one know that they are loved.  No big gestures needed, just pour your spouse’s cup of coffee for them, change the baby so they can sleep in five extra minutes, refill the toilet paper.  Anything goes!

8) Talk to each other.  Communicate about everything, and never be afraid to learn more about your spouse.  I just recently learned that my husband feels very loved when I make the kids lunches at night, which is usually his chore.  So easy!

9) Love is a choice not a feeling.  99% of the time, love is still  a warm fuzzy feeling for me, but for that difficult 1% of the time, I remember that we chose to love each other forever, and made vows we will not break.

10) A successful marriage takes 3. Husband, Wife, and God.  Family prayer is a beautiful thing.  The times I feel so close to my husband are when we pray or attend Mass together.  Thank God daily for the gift of marriage and family because it truly is a precious gift!

Colleen Martin chronicles her always-crazy, always-busy, always-wonderful life over at Martin Family Moments.  As a wife to her best friend, mom to five littles and full-time Business Manager at a Catholic High School, she loves blogging and exercising as a way to escape from the many demands in her life.  She and her husband went to the same college, got married right after graduation, and now work at the same place!  They have been married for ten years, and hope to make it many more.  God has blessed her family abundantly, taken care of them always, and they're happy to share their faith with anyone willing to listen!






29 comments:

  1. Love this!!

    Colleen is so wise and the e-big sis I never had.

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  2. Thanks for having me Caitlin and inspiring so many young Catholic couples with your series. Keep up God's good work :)

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  3. Thank you Colleen! So beautifully said! Also, thank you Caitlin for hosting the series. It is such a good idea!

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  4. Beautiful, Colleen... and so true. I am happy I got the chance to hear your story...I love it! And your wedding photo is beautiful as well. But the best? The photo of the 5 beautiful blessings that have come as a result of your wonderful marriage! : )

    Caitlin, thanks for hosting!

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  5. Such a beautiful testimony. Thanks Colleen for sharing and Caitlin for hosting!

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  6. nice. I agreee with all that too. I didn't know the first was a honeymoon baby. our first was a honeymoon baby too--to the day also.

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  7. That was beautiful Colleen--I agree with you on all!

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  8. BEAUTIFUL TESTIMONY. LEFT ME SPEECHLESS. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I 100% agree! We just celebrated 16 years of marriage, and it is all true!

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  10. Awesome stuff Colleen. Caitlin, looking forward to the rest of your series!! Thanks to both of you for your great examples.

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  11. Lovely story, and amazing how many parallels we have just a decade apart. We've just celebrated 20 yrs of marriage (I could add to your advice a couple of points but you've hit some good ones) I was 21, he 25 when we married and also had a honeymoon baby, really cemented us as a family.

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  12. Love it. Love it more because I know you guys in real life, and you're an even better example of a good marriage than what you seem in writing.

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  13. Just popping in Caitlin, nice to meet you! Colleen sent me and because she's my forever bloggy buddy, I stopped over. I'm so glad I did. Beautifully done, Colleen. And Caitlin, I look forward to reading here again.

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  14. Came over from Colleen's blog, but will definitely be coming back! This is a great idea for a series!

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  15. What a sweet post! It's so encouraging to hear from wives/moms who've been at this longer than I have. Thank you!

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  16. This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing! I love the "never stop flirting" tip.

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  17. Beautiful! So true too, we had our first child nine months after we got married too. Such a beautiful blessing, soon to have 4 children in 4.5 years!

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  18. Thank you for the wonderful advice from 5.5 years down the road! I often see posts about marriage after just a few years, but it's great to hear about it from a little way beyond.

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  19. This was such a beautiful post, I had tears in my eyes. You have inspired to me make our date night tonight special!

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  20. Beautiful story, great advice! Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Loved this story and the advice! About having kids right away! We were blessed right away with three healthy kids and now we've miscarried three times in a row. You don't want to take kids as a given!

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  22. Great post, Colleen! It's full of so much wisdom!

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  23. This is excellent advice. Thank you, Colleen (your kids are adorable!!) and Caitlin!

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  24. Love them all and as a newlywed and newly-expecting, am finding that these are SO true already!

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  25. Thanks for these tips, especially #1 - that's such a biggie. (Also, I'm glad you included "If possible" in front of numbers 2 and 3. Having kids early and often has been my heart's desire but so far that hasn't happened - despite our best efforts!)

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  26. Colleen this post is beautiful and so so familiar! My husband and I are about to celebrate 10 years, and have 5 children, and became parents 9 months and 2 days after our wedding! :-)
    Thanks for being an awesome testament to Catholic marriage!

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