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Antonia Goddard Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Prayer Sacraments Vocations

What Not to Say to a Catholic Newlywed (Whether You’re Catholic or Not)

Catholic newlywed, newlywed

Over the last year of married life, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself, my husband, and my relationship with God. I’ve also come to realise that anyone and everyone has an opinion on the above, and many have decided to share them with me.

It’s wonderful when people are kind enough to share their thoughts on marriage with us, whether they have tips for long-lasting happiness, date night ideas, or promises to pray for us. But as a newly married couple, there’s been a lot of unwanted and unwarranted advice, probing questions, and even rudeness when people want to ask about our lives.

Questions are great! But let’s keep them kind and polite. So if you’re headed to a wedding soon, or have a newly-married best friend, have a glance through the below to find some questions not to ask – and some kinder alternatives!

(And yes. I really have been asked all of the below. Help me.)

(1) When are you having children?

People asked me this on my wedding day. On my wedding day. As if there isn’t enough pressure on the bride. (Not just one person. Several. Seriously, I thought this one was already well known as a no-go area, but I’ve been asked it pretty much constantly since I got married. Time to wipe it from the slate for good.)

You never know what struggles others are dealing with. Infertility and child loss are heartbreaking crosses to bear, and although some couples may choose to share their burdens with family and friends, others might prefer to keep them private. Continually asking when the children are going to arrive can be insensitive, and even painful for a young couple longing for their first child. 

God will sort it out in His own sweet time, and when the couple are ready, they’ll definitely tell you!

Say instead: I pray God blesses your family.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(2) Marriage is so much hard work!

It’s true that marriage requires a lot of work and dedication for both parties, but it’s also hugely rewarding, fulfilling, and blessed. When newlyweds are starting out on their own, brand new, wonderful, exciting journey as a married couple, now’s not the time to be a negative Nancy about all the struggles they have in their future. It’s time to celebrate, raise a toast, and wish them well for everything they’re going to experience.

Say instead: You have a wonderful journey ahead of you.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(3) I hope you have a confetti shower / enormous cake / lace dress / sit down dinner / organ music / fire eaters / giraffes at your wedding!

There’s so much pressure on the bride to make her wedding day the best day of her life. If having all her family and friends in one room and all the attention on her wasn’t enough, you have an entire multi-million dollar wedding industry banging on the door insisting that if you don’t hand over enough cold hard cash, you’ll have a miserable day and regret it for the rest of your life. Spoiler: not true!

Their wedding is just one day, their first as husband and wife. Yes, it’s pretty damn special. But it’s special because it’s their wedding day – it’s not their wedding day because it’s special.

So don’t go bashing the bride and groom if their wedding isn’t to your tastes, or you wanted a particular hymn or song. If you’re a parent, or you’re paying for a big part of the wedding, you can make yourself heard politely. If you’re not, shush.

And take it from a bride with social anxiety: sometimes she doesn’t want a big wedding. So be glad you’re on the invite list at all.

Say instead: I hope your wedding day was everything you wanted it to be.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(4) Wow, you married so young! Judgmental face…

By modern standards, I suppose I did get married relatively early, which means I get a lot of strange looks when I mention my husband. I understand surprise, particularly in non-Catholic circles, however surprise often gives way to judgement, questioning, and criticism. Clearly, for some people, my being married young means I make ‘important decisions too quickly’ and they feel the need to comment on my decisions, tell me why I was wrong, or why I might regret this in the future.

Advice is great, but there’s no need to be judgemental about it. Even if you’ve been married for ten years, twenty, or even fifty, we all started out young once! We’ve all got our own stories and our own journeys in life – and ours starts right here.

Say instead: How are you enjoying married life?

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(5) What contraception are you using?

Do I need to explain this one?!?

I get it – a lot of non-Catholics don’t get the whole ‘Catholic contraception thing’, and want to know more, but there are many politer ways of asking about what Catholics believe. I’m more than happy to explain the teaching to you, or point you in the direction of someone who can explain it better – but there’s really no need to get into the nitty-gritty of my private life in order to do so. Other Catholics feel the need to ‘check up on us’ – that we’re doing things the right way, or the wrong way, and want to have their say about it.

But do I really need to explain why it’s an incredibly personal and private thing to be asking a newly married couple? Really?

If you’re not my doctor – don’t.

Just pray for us.

Categories
Ink Slingers Krista Steele Series The Ask

Loving My Husband

The Ask

Welcome to the next installment of The Ask – a series devoted to taking your questions rooted in Catholic living and providing solid, orthodox advice you can use in your everyday. How does it work? We take questions from you, our readers, and Krista marries the spiritual and practical to give you ways to apply the advice given to help you walk with Christ. Have a question? Email KRISTA to submit your question.


Hi Krista! My husband and I have small children and it’s hard making time for each other. We know it’s important, but it’s a big struggle – not gonna lie! Do you have any ideas for us that would help us connect better?   

~ Loving My Husband

+++

Dear Loving My Husband,

What a time to be alive. The little years bring so many unique joys and challenges. All too often it can seem like the challenges outnumber the joys. I love that you and your husband desire to connect more deeply. It’s easy in this season of life to believe the lie that your primary vocation of marriage can be put on hold. I’ve seen the damage and destruction that can cause in a family and your question makes it clear that you are committed to navigating the challenges of this time that get in the way of connecting with your husband.

When they were parenting two small girls, my grandparents had an evening ritual that worked well for them. They taught my mom and aunt early that the first 30-45 minutes after my grandmother got home from work, they were expected to entertain themselves while my grandparents sat down at the table or on the patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail and talked. My mom is about to be a grandmother for the first time and clearly so much has changed about the pace of our culture since she was a girl, but I think a rhythm like that is within reach if we’re willing go against the crowd.

Perhaps start by picking a night this week to sit down after the kids are in bed and take inventory of everything that is taking your time and energy as a family and make some cuts, a “not to do” list if you will, so that you and your husband can have some set time every day or at least every week to connect before you’re not too exhausted from the hustle of everyday living to do anything more than stare blankly at the television while one of you scrolls through facebook on your phone and the other one dozes off, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

I don’t know if you have family close by and if you do whether or not they are a supportive resource for your family. If so, take every advantage of that blessing! As a kid, I spent a significant amount of time with loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends, both near and far. Those experiences gave me memories, confidence and a sense of adventure that I treasure now as an adult.

When those same grandparents I told you about earlier were young parents without family close by, they traded babysitting hours with several other couples. They called it the “babysitter’s club”. On the rare occasion they had a few extra dollars to go on a date, they would cash in a few babysitting hours with one of the other couples in their group. They got a night out, able to rest easy knowing their daughters were in the hands of trusted friends and my mom and aunt built healthy relationships with a community of caring adults and their children.

My husband and I are getting ready to meet our first child in the next couple of weeks, so we are in a different stage of life than you. I won’t even pretend to know what’s going to work for you this week, this month, this year, because I’m not living your life. Anyone but God Himself who positions themselves as an expert on your life should be promptly ignored unless they’re offering to take your children and pay for a long weekend away for you and your husband. That is my prayer for you — an all expenses paid weekend away with free childcare. It’s easy for people to offer “solutions” from the outside looking in, but that suggests that you aren’t smart enough to have considered those same options yourself.

John Gottman recently wrote a book called “Eight Dates” that would be worth checking out. He offers great resources for married couples to continue to grow and improve their relationship. Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Knowing each other’s love languages is so helpful in connecting in a more meaningful way. My husband knows that a clean kitchen, hidden love notes and a foot rub go a long way to make me feel seen and loved and I know that initiating sex, speaking well of him in front of our friends and family and packing his lunches makes him feel respected and appreciated.

The voice that says there is no solution, no extra time or money or energy for you and your husband is the voice of the one who seeks to divide. The Devil hates strong marriages, hates that you want more time with your husband, and he’s going to work hard to convince you that getting that deeper connection is impossible in this season, of how selfish you are for wanting that in the first place, that your marriage can wait. The Devil is lying. Your marriage is your primary vocation. Your children are a miraculous product of your vocation. I heard Fr. John Ricardo say once that children need to know that their parents love each other even more than they need to know that their parents love them. By prioritizing each other, you are giving them an incredible gift.

God has put the desire on your heart to connect deeply with your husband and He will provide the resources and village of people to make that happen. Trust and seek His guidance as you and your husband explore your options for getting the quality time you want and need. Kudos to you for continuing to seek your spouse during these chaotic little years. It matters more than you know.

 

All Love In Christ,

Krista


RESOURCES

For inspiration – pulled from CS archives

Loving My Husband

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Krista Steele Series The Ask

The Ask – A Catholic Sistas Advice Column

TheAsk

Welcome to The Ask – a series devoted to taking your questions rooted in Catholic living and providing solid, orthodox advice you can use in your everyday. We will take questions from readers and share some practical ways to apply the advice given to help you walk with Christ. Now let’s hear from columnist Krista!


So, I’m writing an advice column. This is funny to me for two reasons. First of all, the one thing that was hammered into my head over and over as a grad student, was that therapists don’t give advice. For the most part, that’s true. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I’m not the expert on anyone’s life. Heck, I’ve hardly got a handle on my own. When friends come to me and open a conversation with “treat me like one of your clients”, the first thing I say to them is “Great! I’m not going to give you any advice.”

The other thing I find funny is that a few letters after my name give me the authority to dish out wisdom like bowls of hot soup to all of those who are cold and hungry in their souls. I’m 28 years old, married for just under two years, pregnant with my first baby without a clue how to balance marriage, motherhood, dreams and a career. When it comes to expertise, the diploma on the wall and credentials at the end of my name aren’t what make me right for this job.

Why me?

What makes me right for this job are the two listening ears attached to my head, the beating heart in my chest that feels for you, breaks for you and reaches out to you in your everyday struggles and suffering.

Sometimes all we need is to get the words on paper or out in the open to realize the answer was right in front of us the whole time.

This is for all the questions that are simple to understand in the hypothetical but get tricky when they get personal. I mean, I understand why the Church teaches what she teaches in general, but there are certainly times when I wonder if and how it applies to my actual life here on the ground. I know the commandments and I know that I should respect my mother and father, but what does that mean for mothers in-law? The Beatitudes say “blessed are the meek”, but can I still stand up for myself when friends disrespect my boundaries?

If you ask me, it’s a tough and important time to be a woman in the Church. We’re speaking up and taking the lead more than ever before. The women of the Church are rising up to do what we do best — build up, bring healing, and restore what was broken. And we’re doing all this while making dinner and making babies, sending emails and birthday cards.

What Women Want 

I think a lot of times when we’re seeking advice, what we’re really seeking is counsel, another voice to validate and challenge what we already know, an unbiased third party to help us separate the truth from everything else, to sit next to us as we sort through the clutter of our assumptions and expectations.

Here’s what I hope this column will be for you. I hope that it’s a place where you feel safe to ask the questions that are heavy on your heart without the fear of judgment. I hope you know and believe that this will never be a place of persecution but of encouragement and empowerment to be the woman God created you to be. I hope you find through the questions and answers of our sisters in Christ that you, my dear, are not alone in your wrestling.

My goal is that this column, this tiny little corner of the internet will be a place where you can be reminded of who you are and whose you are, a place where your burden can be shared, your yoke a little lighter than before. Here you will never find condemnation. What you will find is understanding, practical advice and some humor.  I promise to hold your questions tenderly and answer them prayerfully with my whole heart. I can’t promise you that I’ll be perfect, after all I’m human, but I do promise to give you all the love, knowledge and wisdom I have to offer.


Have a question?

Send your inquiry to Krista Steele at Advice@CatholicSistas.com