Friday, February 5, 2016

Your Marriage As Mission: A Husband & Wife of 15 Years Share Their Best Advice

I look up to Karee of Can We Cana? so much.  She and her husband Manny have weathered major hard times, including brain tumors, in their 15 years of marriage while raising six kids.  They teach pre-Cana and are passionate about encouraging couples to live out the married vocation fully alive, so much so that they wrote a book about it, The Four Keys to Everlasting Love.  I asked her and Manny to share ways to sort through all the advice, solicited and not, that you get bombarded with while planning your wedding, and to offer some wisdom of their own:

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The best advice we got before tying the knot...Before we got married, it seemed like everybody wanted to give us advice. Some of it was good, and some of it was not so good. One of the catchiest – and worst – pieces of advice we heard was “The smallest things cause the biggest fights.” We discovered whenever we were fighting about little things like toothpaste tubes and toilet paper rolls, there was something much bigger lurking in our relationship. We were avoiding a big issue by arguing about a small one.

So, you have to pick and choose whose advice works for you and whose doesn’t. But, from the perspective of fifteen years of happy marriage, here’s the wisest advice our friends and family shared with us early on, and how it helped our relationship:

Make sure you share the same mission.
Manny: Having the same mission is crucial! If you take care to find a mate with whom you share a common, overarching vision, oftentimes the details take care of themselves. I find this to be the case with Karee whether we’re talking about finances, childrearing, or our decision to use Natural Family Planning. Our shared mission is to put God and our family first, and God has never let us down.

Karee: Family and children were always important to Manny. From the beginning, he promised me he would do whatever it took, and work as many jobs as he needed, to provide for me and our children. Six kids later, he’s never broken that promise, sometimes taking four different part-time jobs to support the family without complaint. Sharing the mission of raising a big, beautiful Catholic family together has been a great blessing.

Marriage is a delicate flower, so you have to nurture it.
Manny: My parents’ neighbor Tony gave me this advice. As a seasoned divorce attorney who had managed to stay happily married, he knew what he was talking about. Constant communication is like soil, he said, hugs and kisses are like water, and laughter is like sunshine that every relationship needs in order to thrive. Thinking of marriage as a flower in need of constant care  helps combat the tendency to take it for granted.

Karee: Manny is a much better gardener than I. Since the first begonia I killed as a child, I’ve always despaired of my black thumb. I’m tempted to view people, relationships, and even my own body like machines that shouldn’t need more than annual check-ups and maintenance. Of course, everybody needs more than once-a-year care, so I’m truly grateful for my husband’s nurturing tendencies.

In getting married, you are beginning a great project. But you will struggle.
Manny: My father uttered these words at the reception on our wedding day. Little did I know how true they would be. Before a year had passed, Karee and I dealt with the grief of thinking (mistakenly) that we couldn’t have children, and later, with the joy of expecting our first child. Almost eight months to the day we were married, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo a major lifesaving operation. Expect to struggle and it won’t catch you by surprise.

Karee: My father-in-law has a strong Spanish accent, so the word “struggle” sounded like “eh-strrrruggle.” His words were unexpected, and totally unforgettable. In the fifteen years of our marriage, Manny has gone through four brain surgeries and three major job changes. I’ve gone through six pregnancies and natural childbirths, and I’ve switched careers from law to journalism to stay-at-home mothering and then back to writing again. A lot of people go through just as many changes after they get married. And change is always difficult, but it can bring great opportunities for growth in faith, strength, and virtue.

Thanks so much, Karee and Manny!  Visit them at their blog, and their book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  The foreword is by Christopher West!

Your turn.  Tell me, what's the best piece of marriage advice you've received, and how do you sift through all the opinions?

1 comment:

  1. I’ve had a couple of events at this location. The only thing that would have made guys from these wedding venues better would have been better communication in the earlier planning stages, but it all worked out great in the end.



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