Spirituality – Engaged Marriage

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A 3-Minute Prayer for Busy Christians

By Dustin | Spirituality

3-Minute Prayer for Busy ChristiansHow faithful and consistent are you in your prayer life?

That can be a tough question to answer for many of us.

I know that I struggle to keep prayer in its rightful place as a daily and meaningful practice in my life.

When I do make the time to pray and have a wonderful conversation with God, it’s usually while I’m laying in bed at night at the end of a long day.

Inevitably, I end up going off on some crazy daydream tangent and/or falling asleep before my “chat” is complete.

The problem I seem to have with prayer is two-fold:

  • I don’t make it a high priority in my schedule
  • I sometimes just don’t know what to pray about – which really doesn’t make it very effective in my case

To me, prayer is one of those things that should just come naturally, but it doesn’t always happen that way.  I crave some structure (I am an engineer after all), yet I want to have a very personal and real conversation with our Lord.

That means that simply saying the Our Father, while it’s wonderful, isn’t enough – I need to connect through a prayerful conversation.

The 3-Minute Prayer Anyone Can Do

I’ve been struggling with this for a while, which is why I was so excited during Mass yesterday when our new priest started talking about having these same struggles in his early years of preaching.  It was clear he could relate to the busy members of our parish.

While he (rightfully) said that “If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy” – he also offered up a fantastic prayer that even the busiest among us can use as the center of their daily prayer life.

Here’s how it goes:

1. For the first minute, pray to God the Father and THANK HIM specifically for all the good things that you’ve experienced over the last 24 hours.

2. For the second minute, pray to God the Son (yeah, that’s Jesus) to ASK FORGIVENESS for all of your sins and wrongdoings over the last 24 hours.

3. For the last minute, pray to God the Holy Spirit to ASK FOR THE GRACE and strength you need for the particular issues you’re facing now and over the next day.

I used this approach last night (and stayed awake) and again this morning during a morning run.

To me, it’s a perfect way to focus on three different areas where I need God in my life, while also recognizing the mystery of the Holy Trinity that we believe as Catholics.  Of course, you could modify the structure slightly to suit your needs and beliefs.

I hope this simple approach to prayer helps you make your relationship with God a daily encounter and enhances your marriage in the process.

If you think this approach is helpful, I encourage you to share it with others by clicking the Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter buttons above or by sending it to a friend via email.

God Bless!

How Your Marriage Protects You

By Dustin | Spirituality

How Your Marriage Protects YouNote: This is a guest post from Regi Campbell.

Marriage can feel pretty easy when you are feeling the love.

When both of you are feeling the love, it seems effortless. But when you don’t feel it, marriage feels much different.

It feels like a trap. A cage.

We think, “I’m stuck in here with a woman I don’t love and who obviously doesn’t love me back. But I can’t get out. This marriage is holding us both back from being truly happy!”

Let’s reframe that thinking.

What if that “trap” or “cage” is actually there to protect you?

Let me explain.

If you were all by yourself in dark water in the middle of the ocean and there were all sorts of nocturnal hunters out in the water – who knows what size sharks are out looking for fresh meat – you would probably trade just about anything to be in a cage.

In fact, I bet you would gladly lock yourself inside.  Right?

Have you ever considered the possibility that maybe this is why the institution of marriage exists? Maybe it is here to protect us from the dangers and temptations we are drawn to…things that just might kill us if we were left alone to our own devices.

What does that mean and why should we value or protect institutions?

Institutions are a way of sustaining important activities over time (government, education, etc).

Let’s say there is a good-hearted doctor who takes care of everyone in his community. When people are sick, he goes to their homes and treats them. When they get really sick, he brings them to his house and looks after them until they get better or die.

What happens when the doctor dies? Or when his house burns down? The whole community is out of luck.

So we created an institution to sustain the healthcare we all need. The good-hearted doctor is still at the heart of it, but now he’s connected to a hospital – an institution – a system that will carry on when he doesn’t feel like being good-hearted, or when he’s sick himself, or when he is no longer around.

Marriage is similar.

It is a system that carries two people through even when they don’t feel love for each other.

Consider this…

Love initiates marriage. But marriage sustains love.

Americans fight for institutions that give us what we want. We’ll tax ourselves to build hospitals, we will bail out banks and companies (and government).

But marriage is an institution that is in trouble because it gives us what we need, but sometimes it’s just not what we want. And just like the motto of “think global, but act local,” our first priority is to honor, respect and protect our own marriages.

We’re in a culture where parents do everything to give their kids an advantage, but forget the most valuable thing we can bestow upon our children is a happy, healthy marriage between Mom and Dad.

So next time you’re tempted to give up or blow up or do something mean to hurt her back, remember that marriage was created and you were placed in yours for your benefit.

Probably for your protection. And the next time someone talks to you about getting a divorce, remember, the institution of marriage will only be sustained if people start to sacrifice a little selfishness for the good of their families, society and the next generation.

To think longer term, to stay committed even when they don’t feel like it, and to trust God for the love and protection He provides through marriage.

Question: Are you actively working to protect your marriage?

Share what you are doing to intentionally build a better marriage!

Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur, but first and foremost a husband to his wife of 44 years, Miriam, and father to two married children (grandfather of 5). He mentors eight young men each year through a program called “Radical Mentoring” that he began in 2000. His most recent book, What Radical Husbands Do, is now available at www.radicalhusbands.com.

3 Reasons I Still Believe in Marriage

By Dustin | Spirituality

This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

3 Reasons I Still Believe In MarriageIf you had no preconceived notions, and you spent even one day simply watching television, reading magazines and browsing the social media updates of the most popular sites on the web, what impression would you have of marriage?

I’m afraid you’d learn that marriage is an antiquated idea where two people are imprisoned in a house together with no sex life and lots of bitterness.

You’d be led to believe that most couples get divorced and those that don’t are either naive or they’ve been brainwashed by their church or family to continue to suffer.  You’d learn that married couples are missing out on freedom, personal fulfillment and lots of exciting, casual sex.

Well, I believe differently.

Despite all the forces against traditional marriage these days, I still believe in it.  I believe that marriage is good and that it’s a worthy vocation for many.

I believe that strong marriages are the key to making the world a better place.

Here are a few reasons that I’ve come to believe so deeply in this old-school institution:

1. I Believe Marriage is a Gift from God

As a Christian, I believe plenty of counter-cultural ideas, and one of my deepest beliefs is that God has a special plan for each of us.  For many, I think we find our highest calling as a married couple leading a family.

God gave us an example through the holy family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.  And he gave us the ultimate example of love and commitment through the passion of Jesus Christ.

While it requires a spiritual lens, I see the relationship between Jesus (groom) and his Church (bride) as a beautiful example of married love.  And I’m super wacky because I think us married couples have the opportunity to serve the world and be an example of God’s love to others in the way we live out our marriages.

2. I Have Witnessed the Goodness of Marriage in Others

The reality is that the example of married life I grew up with was pretty bad.  It left me wondering how marriage could really work (and a lot of other questions).

Fortunately, I did have healthy models of married life to experience outside of my own home.  I could see the goodness of married dedication through my friends’ parents, and I ended up finding one of the strongest examples of a great marriage in Bethany’s parents.

In fact, their relationship went a long way toward helping me choose to be a Christian in my college years.

3. I Live the Gift of a Happy Marriage

Last but most importantly, I live the gift of marriage every day.

Like all couples, Bethany and I have our “moments” but we are certainly a happy and blessed couple.  Marriage is one of the absolute best parts of my life, and I know God has called me to be a good husband and father, even if he chose a pretty crazy path to lead me through to get here.

I obviously care a lot about marriage, and about YOUR marriage, which is why Engaged Marriage exists.  Like I said, I think that we can change the world for the better by supporting and encouraging strong marriages.

But the bottom line is that no matter what TMZ reports or a sitcom portrays, I still believe in marriage because marriage is so good for me.

Thank God for that.

A Word About the Happy Wives Club

HW Club Tour

I wrote this post as part of a worldwide blog tour to raise awareness about happy marriages, coinciding with the release of a new book by a dear friend of mine.

Fawn Weaver is an awesome person who has taken a stand for the goodness of love and marriage, and I’m thrilled to support her and her great book – Happy Wives Club.

I encourage you to check it out and read about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer.  She traveled to six continents to write it, and it’s truly a gift.  Here’s a short video trailer for the book for you to enjoy.

Using Your Unique Gifts for a Stronger Marriage

By Dustin | Spirituality

Using Your Unique Gifts for a Stronger MarriageA happy marriage requires a lot of different skills.

From clear communication and empathy to more mundane tasks like budgeting and cleaning the house, leading a family really does involve a long list of talents and abilities.

It can be a bit overwhelming to consider all that’s required of us on a weekly or even a daily basis.  There’s so much to do!

The Beauty of Partnership

The great news is that we’re blessed as married couples with a teammate.

There’s a good chance that your spouse complements you and lightens your individual load considerably.

But have you ever taken a moment to consider just what’s involved or been proactive to discuss whether you’re split of the responsibilities makes the most sense?

In the midst of the daily grind and the chaos that sometimes comes with raising a family, it’s really easy to lose sight of what your husband or wife brings to the table.  And sometimes we end up taking on roles by default and never pausing to think about why.

My family was sitting in church a few weeks ago listening to the readings, and this passage from Corinthians really got me thinking:

Brothers and sisters:

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

there are different workings but the same God

who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.

To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;

to another, the expression of knowledge according to the

same Spirit;

to another, faith by the same Spirit;

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;

to another, mighty deeds;

to another, prophecy;

to another, discernment of spirits;

to another, varieties of tongues;

to another, interpretation of tongues.

But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,

distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Of course, this was written to speak about our spiritual gifts, but I think we’re all blessed with gifts and abilities that can make a really practical difference in our marriages.

Talk About Your Strengths & Adjust Accordingly

In our household, we’ve modified our roles over time, especially as circumstances have changed (becoming parents changed everything!).

However, Bethany and I have always tried to be really aware of our individual strengths and use them to manage our household the best way we can.

A few examples – I’m the “nerd” who has a knack for managing our finances and planning ahead for change.  Bethany is an amazing caretaker who feels real pride from an orderly household.  I’m great at getting physical and wrestling with the kids, while she has remarkable patience when it comes to reading stories or settling their arguments.

There will always be the “stuff” of life to contend with (no one feels particularly fulfilled cleaning toilets), but there are many aspects in your marriage where identifying your strengths and deciding proactively who is best suited to handle big tasks will come in handy.

One book (among several) that we love to recommend to engaged or newly married couples is StrengthsFinder 2.0.  It’s a self-assessment guide that will help you discover or reinforce you innate strengths.

Another helpful tool that will guide you to the areas that “fill your love tank” and make you feel fulfilled is The Five Love Languages.

Take some time this week to discuss all those areas that are needed to make your home run smoothly, consider each of your strengths, and plan how to execute accordingly.

God has blessed you and your spouse with many talents – be sure you’re blessing each other by putting them to good use!

Should You Only Preach to Your Choir?

By Dustin | Spirituality

There are millions of people in the world who don’t believe in marriage.

There are billions who don’t believe all the same things about marriage that you believe.  I may even be one of them.  Hopefully, your spouse is not.Preach the Gospel at All Times

I know that most people in the world, in the United States, in my town and probably even in my own family don’t feel the exact same way about marriage as I do.

As a member of the Engaged Marriage community, there’s a good chance you do share some key beliefs with me:

  • Marriage is good
  • Marriage can be an absolute blessing to our lives
  • Marriage requires work, education, motivation and resources to be extraordinary (that’s what this site is all about)

We have some common ground that enables you to enjoy the 300+ posts here, and it allows me to really enjoy writing them to share with you.

Should We Share with Those Who Believe Differently?

As an advocate for healthy, happy marriages, I’m often presented with opportunities to share my expertise with others.

This can be through speaking to groups that already largely share my beliefs.  It can be through writing on this blog or publications where I know the response will be lots of nice comments applauding my views.

This is pretty easy and provides a great ego boost.  Preaching to the choir is a pretty nice gig.

However, there are times when the opportunity comes to share advice with a hostile crowd, or at least an audience that has beliefs that are quite different from my own.

This is much tougher and can be exhausting – so is it worth it?

A Recent Reader Email that Questioned My Judgement & My Beliefs

Last week, I sent an email to our wonderful Marriage Time subscribers to share an opportunity to sign up for an awesome free online relationship event where I’m speaking.

(It’s called the Art of Love, and you can still register right here.  I’m speaking on Sunday 2/17)

I promptly received an email back from a long-time subscriber:

Hi Dustin,

I wanted to take a minute and ask, as a Catholic, why you are participating in this? The email sounded intriguing so I clicked on the link. When I got near the bottom of the page, there was a circle stating that relationships come in all forms and that this organization/seminar proudly supports LGBT.

Knowing that, even though I’m sure there will be valuable information presented, I cannot support it. With you participating in it, it is confusing to your Catholic supporters; and perhaps other Christian denominations as well who do not support same-sex marriage.

I have to say I wasn’t all that surprised to get this response.  After all, I’m a devout Christian, and I certainly don’t keep my Catholic beliefs to myself.

It only took me about five minutes to respond with these thoughts:

This is a fantastic question!

You’re correct that I’m Catholic, I support traditional marriage and I don’t support same-sex marriage.  So why would I participate in a seminar that does support it?

It’s my opinion that we best get our message heard when we are willing to venture into areas that don’t necessarily agree with our views.  If I restricted my writing and speaking to groups that agree with me, I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity to spread the good word about all that traditional marriage can be and the goodness of Christianity in general.

A prime example is the writing I’ve done on a site called Your Tango.  Their content can be quite racy with lots of articles on sex outside of marriage and some posts promoting the gay lifestyle.  However, I’ve written there numerous times, including a post about Why I Believe in Natural Family Planning.

This was definitely stepping foot into “enemy” territory and it incited quite a reaction.  However, I felt it was important to set the record straight on NFP, and it required me to go to their turf to do so.

For the Art of Love, I’m on a panel with two other men who are popular relationship writers.  I suspect I’ll be the only one talking about traditional marriage and probably even defending it at times in this setting.  I’m OK with that, and I feel like it’s part of my calling as a promoter of healthy, happy marriages in a culture that too often rejects that idea.

In a nutshell, I am firm in my beliefs.  But I am happy to share them and spread them within forums that don’t consist entirely of people who agree with me or the Catholic Church.

I hope that helps, and it is an excellent question.  It may even be worth a blog post to discuss!

The reader said she was very appreciative of my response and understood my perspective.

What Do You Think?

The fact is I’m confronted with these kinds of decisions on a regular basis.

I feel like I’m doing the right thing by branching out to share my message, yet there are always those who are quick to judge your motivations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

  • If you are trying to make the world a better place by educating and hopefully inspiring others to live a married life they love, should you limit your message to venues that match up with your beliefs?
  • Is it a violation of your beliefs to travel into “hostile turf” to share your expertise or story?
  • Do you think it’s fruitless to try and share information with those that very well may be close-minded to hearing it?

That last point is particularly important to Bethany and me.

We regularly present on the topic of Natural Family Planning to groups that didn’t sign up to hear that particular information (usually as part of a marriage preparation workshop).  Our hope isn’t to necessarily convert folks to our way of thinking, but we implore them to hear us out and keep an open mind since they might learn something new.

I think an open mind is a wonderful gift.  What do you think? 

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or experiences on this topic.

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