Friday, September 7, 2012

My Blog is Moving!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Ten Tips for Dealing with Anger in Marriage

We may not like to talk about it, but if you’re married, you’ve been there. How do we deal with our anger in marriage? How do we argue? How do we reconcile? We all have different ways of handling our differences with our spouse, but here are a few things I’ve learned over the 13 years I’ve been married to my husband.

1.    Stop talking – wait till you can be reasonable and sincere
Before you say something you don’t mean, stop. You can’t take your words back. You can ask forgiveness later, you can say you were out of line, but the memory of your voice saying something hateful or unkind will last forever. Stop before you say something you don’t mean. Sometimes this is so hard for me, but I NEVER regret it!

2.    Don’t storm off, or walk away
My husband can’t stand it when someone walks away. I try to respect that, and have found value in that habit. Walking away is wimpy. Walking away either says you don’t care or you don’t respect your spouse enough to listen. If you need a break to keep yourself from violating rule number 1, then tell your spouse, in a reasonable tone of voice, that you might need a break to think. You don’t want to overreact, and you want to make sure that you say what you mean. That’s fine. Your spouse should understand. Just make sure that you DO come back to continue the conversation.

2.5 But, don’t let the sun go down on your anger
Make it a habit to resolve things as quickly as you can. There’s nothing more miserable for each of you, and for your children, than to have you two walking around for days grumbling, rolling eyes and being snippy. What torture! In the end, you will only make things worse by hurting each other more. My husband and I try to resolve things the DAY they happen. This mostly comes from my impatient nature. I can’t STAND to wait! God can bring good from anything, right!?

3.    Don’t be a Princess (or Prince)
We are ourselves. We all have a hard time remembering that we are just one side of the story. Because we live in OUR head, and we hear all OUR arguments, we reason out the injustices done to us and feel OUR pain. We don’t live, hear, reason or feel what our spouses do. We just see their faces and hear their voices, and when they’re mad, that might not engender much sympathy.

Often, when I’m mad, I have to go off to my room, shut myself in, lie on the bed and calm myself down enough to be able to consider the issue from my husband’s perspective. Even if I’m obviously RIGHT, sometimes doing that can help me see a bit of reality: He did travel out of town the past three days and stayed up with the baby last night. He’s really, really tired and I can should cut him some slack. Or, I can consider of how my words might have sounded to him. In light of what he’s been going through lately, I can better understand how my they hurt him, even if I didn’t intend it.
Sometimes we really do just need to stop thinking we’re so perfect and righteous in order to be able to understand how our spouse feels.

4.    Take a break – clear your mind, don’t mull or blab
Sometimes mulling only brews more anger. Maybe you need a break. Go for a walk. Go to the store, play a game of Go Fish with the kids. Get your mind off the topic for a bit. Many times, I have found that after stepping away, and removing the emotion from the topic, I can come back and look at the issue that caused our disagreement and realize that it really wasn’t that big of a deal after all!
Be respectful. Even if you’re angry or upset, there is rarely a time when it is necessary for you to blab to a friend or even a family member. Once everything is resolved, you will usually regret revealing that intimate part of marriage to someone else. Be careful of calling a girlfriend, or complaining over a beer with a friend.  When we’re angry, we are hardly ever fair, and will usually not give the complete story. That never ends well.

5.    Dig Deeper – what is the real reason you’re angry?
Sometimes you’re really not angry about what you think you’re angry about! And that’s just not fair. What can your spouse do if you’re throwing old emotions or misdirecting anger at him? He has no CHANCE! If you feel some burst of anger pop out of nowhere, there might be something more there. Think about things for a while.  Try to find the root cause, so that you can really deal with the issue and move on.

I remember one August getting very upset that my husband wasn’t available to go purchase school supplies as a family. I was so very put out… I think he thought I was a bit nuts. But, after a few minutes of reflection, I realized that I wasn’t really mad that he didn’t want to go buy school supplies. I was really just overwhelmed in general about the end of another summer, and the beginning of a new school year – my kids were growing up, and I was a little shaken! And I took it out on my poor husband!

6.    Pray
Seriously, pray. Don’t pray that God will show your spouse how right you are. Don’t pray that God will comfort you in your agony.

Don’t pray selfishly!

But, rather, pray for God to grant you the virtue of humility. Pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, promised to you when you entered into a sacramental marriage, to be poured out. Pray that God will help YOU to love more, act with kindness, and be a better servant. God will take care of the rest.
“To love is to cherish one thought, to live for the person loved, not to belong to oneself, happily and freely with one’s heart and soul to be subjected to another will … and at the same time to one’s own.”  – St. Josemaria Escriva
7.    It’s okay to apologize first
Because sometimes, it just doesn’t really matter. I don’t know how many times my husband has come up to me, given me a hug, and said, “I’m sorry!” He wasn’t stating who was right and who was wrong. He wasn’t saying, “I’m sorry… that you messed up!” In his mind, and in his voice, he conveyed that he was sorry that we fought. “I love you. I don’t want to fight. You’re my best friend. I’m sorry.”

“You are more important than my feelings.”

It takes great humility to apologize sincerely.  It’s SO hard. But it feels good to let that resentment and anger go.  And sometimes, when one person is willing to start, the other follows. That first step of love and humility can soften hearts and bring the rest of the issue out in the open with an attitude of love and a true desire for resolution.

8.    “I’m sorry, but…” Is NEVER okay
We have a “No ‘I’m sorry, but…’ Rule” in our home, with our children, with each other. If you’re ready to apologize, then you’re either in, or you’re out.  If you say something like, “I’m sorry, but that was a really stupid thing to do!”… guess what? No dice. You’re back at square one, or worse. Make sure your apology can hold water and be taken seriously. Make sure that you are able to be sincere, or wait. And remember, your body language speaks volumes. Make sure that your face, your eyes and your voice echo what you feel.

9.     Don’t be afraid to ask for help when necessary

You may think everyone else’s marriage is perfect and you’re the only couple who has struggled. That’s NOT true. I bet you’d be surprised how many couples you know who have gone to a wise priest for advice, been on a marriage retreat or gone to some sort of marriage counseling. Sometimes loving enough to admit you need a bit of help is the greatest gift you can give your spouse.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or that you have failed. You’re just looking for some outside, detached, well-informed perspectives. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done for your marriage. So, don’t afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

10.   Be thankful, and love.
Practice love. Remember the good things, and bring them to mind often. Make a habit of speaking well of your spouse. Say something nice on Facebook, praise her to her boss at the Christmas party. Tell him you’re proud of what he does. Tell him you love the way he mows the grass like clockwork or the taste of his sweet rolls on Saturday mornings. Remember those things that made you fall in love with him in the first place. And bring them to mind often.

It’s like strength training. If you go to the gym regularly, and routinely repeat those things that will make you strong, when you’re thrown into a tough moment – that hike up the mountain when you’ve had little sleep and it’s starting to rain (yes, this just happened to me recently!) – the strength you’ve built up over time will carry you through. You will be strong when you need to be.  Even in those unexpected moments.

It is the same with love. Give yourself some strength. The Lord has given you two to each other, to wear down the rough edges, to help you become the person he intends you to be, to bring you closer to Himself by bringing you closer to your spouse. Rejoice in the confidence of God’s faithfulness to your marriage, and be faithful to each other.

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.” 
-St. Francis de Sales

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Greater Love: 3 Heroes from Aurora

(As posted at Austin Catholic New Media:)

When I was sixteen, I had a boyfriend. My young heart was madly in love. I had also spent some time reading the Bible, inspired by my Baptist friends. One day, I came across this verse:

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

In a fit of romanticism, I wrote it out on a pretty piece of paper and gave it to him. “I love you this much!” I said. He looked at me like I was crazy. We were an emotional dicotomy (as most 16 year olds are) and the relationship fizzled over time.

But, that verse came into mind again today, as I read the news story of three brave men who gave their lives for their loves in the Aurora movie theater shooting: Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves.

I do not like to pontificate on national tragedies. I do not like to blow things up into grandiose ideas or gloss over horrible deaths to make a point. I am not trying to do that here. I am, however, profoundly touched by what these men did for their loves. In a split second, without thinking twice, they threw their bodies on top of their girlfriends, cramming them under seats, pushing them down, and taking the bullets to preserve their lives. They did not contemplate. They did not consider the consequences. They did not take one more look at the girl’s face to decide if she was worth it. Instead, they were all-in and shielded the ones they loved from definitive horror.

I do not know these couples from Adam.  From their photographs, they look like any young couple I might see around this college town. One decked out in formal attire, one couple in swimsuits smiling on a rocky ocean shore and another posing in front of a webcam, numerous piercings decorating their faces. I don’t know what kind of relationships they had, if they held the door open for their ladies, if they said please and thank you or had promising careers. I do know that they did not hesitate to do the good thing.

This gives me hope.

In the midst of such strange horror, God does allow a little peak of light. In the midst of so much confusion and sadness many are asking why, those three girls are still in shock, and so many are hurting. But, I think it’s okay for us to take a glimpse at this little light of goodness and consider it for just a moment.

What more random sampling of people can America pull together than a group going to the premiere of a Batman movie. Really? A nice selection of the American public, all in one room, enjoying their free time. And then one walks in to shatter everything. We have tears. We have confusion. We have anger. We have questions about society, about reality, about media, about safety. But we also have this grand bravery left behind.

Life is not perfect. These men were probably not perfect. Our world is not perfect. People struggle to make the right choices, fight to keep jobs, to make relationships work, to find love. And sometimes, it seems that today’s society makes attaining these things even harder than it used to be.
But, I’m forever an optimist. I refuse to think that it is all over. I’m not a quitter. And these men show me that I’m not alone. We really do want what is good. We really do want to be brave. We really do want to have someone save us. Or save someone else, at all cost. Don’t we?

I pray for all those victims who lost their lives. I pray for those who mourn. I pray that we all, in our gut, without a moment’s hesitation, will have that courage to love with all we have.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

This verse was read as the Gospel at my wedding. My true love meant it with all his heart. And today I know three men who lived it.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


I love downtown Bryan, Texas. This wall, across from a cafe where I go sometimes to work, has an old, weathered, once-painted Coca-Cola signed. The colors just can't be recreated. I love this wall!



I've started blogging regularly at Austin Catholic New Media, which serves our diocese, the Diocese of Austin, Texas. So far, I've written 2 posts. I'm wondering when I will run out of ideas. But, so far, I've enjoyed it very much. The site is an exciting project, with a group of around 25 laity from all around the area. I look forward to meeting them in person!

Yesterday, Colleen rolled around in Jonathan's old tonka truck, pretending it was a wheel-chair. She has a great-uncle in a wheel chair and imagines that he has great fun wheeling around the world. 


We were shopping for Katherine's reading prize (I finally have a child who needs major motivation to sit down and read. I once found her with her book on her head, spinning in circles in her room). We found Target Barbie. On clearance. With an orangey-red basket and a target credit card in her hand. 


Yesterday I also backed into a car. A sixteen year old's brand new silver Mustang. I didn't do much damage, just 2 dings. But, as I got out to talk to the girl, I noticed the car behind her. An old, rusty, beat up sedan with literally plastic bags taped over all the back and passenger windows. And the bumper hanging half-off. But, I hit the new Mustang. 


And, while at Target mulling over Target Barbie, we also walked past what used to the the 'summer aisle'. It is now the 'school supply aisle'. And I was sad. And I was so thrilled that I was sad. I'm not ready for them to go back yet. I resist!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

{Pretty. Happy. Funny. Real.}

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


Fireworks are always pretty. After a strange day where my husband worked instead of taking the day off, it all ended well. We joined the rest of the Bryan/College Station area at the George Bush Presidential Library for the annual 4th of July celebration. A symphony, a breeze, friends and fireworks made it all end well. Very sleepy children and dreams of bursting stars. 


My oldest daughter has begun taking French Horn lessons in preparation for joining band next year. She enjoys it, but begrudgingly practices. Last night, we had the privilege of listening to the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. Live. Sitting on the pavement smack in front of them. Watching the conductor ferociously lead his people on, flags blowing in the wind, some sheet music escaping the stand, to be caught by a swift tympani player. In the very back row sat the three french horns players. Emelie snuck to back to watch them perform Copland's Hoe-down and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. She tried to unobtrusively
 take a photo of the first chair french horn player - a blonde female, just like her. She was caught! Nevermind, the kind lady smiled for her photo, her hair blowing in her face, and Emelie is practicing her horn as I type....


Spunky little girls are always funny. These two have been friends since they were born. They push and shove. They tattle like their preparing for war. They finish each other's sentences and stand, hugging while waiting for their mommies to stop talking. Like a pair of kittens. I think they'll be friends for quite a while yet. It should be fun!

Zack and Curt, way back in something like 1994 or 5?
Our friend Zack passed away 9 years ago last month. He suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, as did his sister, who passed away the year before he did. Yet, when I remember him, I remember his laughter. How he liked to quote the old testament often, reminding us to "gird our loins" with his raspy chuckle. He was a brilliant mathematician, and a brilliant friend. He was a most faithful Catholic. He prayed for his wife through his last hours and fought beyond hope to make it till their 5th wedding anniversary before moving on to heaven.  When he could no longer work, he would sit in front of Planned Parenthood in a folding chair with his oxygen tank and pray.  His last meeting with a close friend, just a few days before his death, had nothing to do with him. He wanted to know when he would finally become Catholic. Did he have any questions about the Eucharist that he could help  him out with? He was my husband's best friend. He stood up at our wedding. We miss him, but will always remember his laugh and his joy for life. 


sleeping, sick boy. I gave him a mohawk while he slept. 

My boy has been sick with a fever. Too tired to watch a movie, that's how sick. His cheeks turned red and his eyes glassy and he just wanted to lay his head in my lap. Flashbacks to when he was a little tiny boy. Those sweet eyes are still the same. 

Jonathan and his counselor, Jorvis.

Same boy. Not sick. 
Recently, he participated in Camp Adventure, a camp offered by Texas A&M. Quite pricey, but worth every penny.  His counselor, was, well, simply wonderful. One night, after a busy day of camp activities, my husband tucked Jonathan in bed. He stayed in the room for a while, talking. When he finally came out, he dropped onto the couch and said, "That Jorvis. He's a good man."  Me, being the meddling type, asked "Why?  What happened?!" And he, being the man-of-few-words type, simply said, "He's just a really good guy. He and Jonathan had a good talk today..."  And that was all. I was content to let it remain. I'm thankful for Jorvis, thankful for good role-models. Because, as much as we love them, as much as we can tell them everyday that they are wonderful and amazing and talented, sometimes they just want to hear good words from someone else. Who's NOT their mother. Someone with no strings attached. Someone who's just a really good guy with eyes to see and a heart to share. 

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Friday, June 29, 2012

And I Find Myself Smirking at God

Does your child ever do something so witty and surprising that you just shake your head and let a smirk creep across your face?

My son cracked out with a clever quip last week and I just burst out laughing. I don’t often burst out into anything.

I like that feeling.

Over the past few weeks I have found my self smirking at God. Shaking my head once again. Surprised at myself for being surprised. That He loves me.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

"The farmer dude is awesome!" or, "Girls' Commentary on Emma, by Jane Austen"

My daughter had her birthday sleepover last night. We went swimming, out to eat, painted nails and watched a movie. The movie was the main event, anticipated greatly by at least one of us.


You see, this was the first time I allowed my daughter to experience Jane Austen. I have protected Jane  from the offense of being read by to young-a-girl, of being blown off, misunderstood, or haphazardly compared to any other romantic girl-in-pretty-dress period movie or book that they may have seen or read.  I wanted to make sure that Emelie would be old enough to truly appreciate Jane.

I chose Emma, the 2009 BBC version for the movie selection. Emma is the most comedic of Jane Austen's works, and Emma herself is a very realistic character, with serious flaws, who makes real mistakes. The BBC version of the movie is 4 hours long and stays very true to the novel.

I had a fear that they wouldn't like it. That they'd think it was boring, slow, old-fashioned or too complex. If that had been the case, I'm not sure what I would have done. Go cry in my room. Offer my kids up for adoption... I just don't know. But, I didn't have to find out because they all loved it. (See video at the end of this post) At 11:35, when we were just half way through, they tried to predict the ending, and then insisted that we watch it all the way through, right then, and not wait till morning as was the plan. I obliged and we finally went to bed at 2 AM.

It was worth every minute - listening to them groan at Mr. Elton, feel sorry for poor Harriet, complain about snooty Emma, swoon over Frank Churchill and plead with Mr. Knightley to just "get down on one knee already!"

As Emelie said half way through, "Frank is nice and cute, but he always seems to get Emma into trouble. Then, Mr. Knightley is there to pull her out. I think I like him best." They were won over 100%. Jane Austen has been successfully passed down to another generation just as she has been for these past 200 years!

"(Jane Austen's novels) appear to be compact of abject truth. Their events are excruciatingly unimportant; and yet, with Robinson Crusoe, they will probably outlast all Fielding, Scott, George Elliot, Thackeray, and Dickens. The art is so consummate that the secret is hidden; peer at them as hard as one may; shake them; take them apart; one cannot see how it is done."
Thornton Wilder, 1938

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