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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

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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 Marriage Parenting Vocations

The Ask: Struggling with NFP

TheAskWelcome to the first 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.


I’m a cradle Catholic and I truly love the Faith, although I definitely need to work on my commitment in my daily life. My husband and I welcomed our first child last January and she is very loved. However, I have had a very difficult, at times heartbreaking journey with postpartum anxiety and OCD. It’s been one of the hardest times in my life.

I know the Church’s teachings on birth control and vasectomies and I think they’re beautiful teachings. My husband and I practice NFP, and because I am currently terrified of having another child, we are only intimate a few days each month. It’s definitely put a strain on our relationship. Although we follow the rules of NFP, I am plagued with worry that God will give me another child while I’m still very much struggling. I don’t know if I would be a healthy mother to more than one child. The temptation to ask my husband to have a vasectomy (as the health risks of birth control scare me) is a strong one. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?

Thank you and God bless,
Struggling with NFP

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Dearest “Struggling With NFP”,

The week before I got married, my dad picked me up and took me out for sushi, something we’ve done hundreds of times since I was a kid tasting a California Roll for the first time. On the way back to my house, he asked me if I was nervous. I told him I wasn’t and I meant it. After a few minutes, though, I told him how afraid I was that I might get pregnant on our honeymoon. At the time, my husband had 6 months left of undergrad and I had two months left of my masters. We had no money and our time together was already limited. Throwing a baby into the mix seemed like a recipe for disaster. Also, I was excited to establish myself in the career I’d worked so hard toward and the thought of throwing maternity leave in the mix less than a year after I started just wasn’t in my plans.

“You talk about trusting God” my dad said, “Here’s a chance to practice what you preach.”  

Sometimes I wish my dad wasn’t so good at his job. He was right, of course. It’s easy to talk about trusting God, trusting that He has a plan for your life and that it’s good.  It’s something entirely different to put that into practice when it comes to the big things like family planning.

For you, now is not an ideal time to have a baby. Postpartum mood disorders are very real and they’re not something you can just pray away or suffer in silence to work themselves out. One of the lies anxiety tells us is that things will never get better. It is that lie that makes a permanent solution, like a vasectomy, to a temporary problem, postpartum anxiety,  seem like the best, perhaps only, option.

I can feel the weight that this burden has placed on your family. In the words of Coldplay “nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard.” None of us imagine this kind of suffering when we’re playing house in our daydreams, and yet we all suffer and we’re left wide eyed and confused and a little offended because this isn’t what we signed up for. Except it is. This kind of suffering is exactly what we signed up for.

There is no easy answer that will make your anxiety go away overnight. A good therapist will help immensely, also a date night with your husband where the phones are away in a restaurant with a cocktail menu and candles on the tables. If that seems out of reach, an afternoon with a close friend and a date night in with the tv off and a bottle of wine maybe.  That’s a start, and that’s all we’re looking for. Mama needs some self-care!

I cannot recommend highly enough the value of a good therapist who respects the teachings of the Church, even if they aren’t Catholic. The best part about therapists is that there are a lot of us, which means you never have to settle for someone you don’t click with. Going to therapy might seem like the last thing on your list of priorities right now when life already feels like more than you can handle, but it’s a valuable tool. Therapy gives you the space to see the big picture when most of your mind and heart space is overwhelmed by the details. If the idea of finding a therapist is overwhelming, try asking trusted friends and family for recommendations. You can also do a google search in your area based on specialties like “postpartum mood disorders”, “faith-based” and “life transitions”. While there’s so much in your life postpartum that you can’t control, you can gain control over your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Your doctor may or may not recommend medication as part of your toolbox for a while and that is another valuable tool.

If you’re not already working with an instructor who specializes in your NFP method of choice, now would be a good time to find one. If there isn’t one in your area, there are practitioners who work remotely. This can be incredibly helpful for gaining confidence in your ability to use NFP effectively! Ask around your church or search your location here to find a professional. In the meantime, using an ovulation monitor like this one, or one of the other awesome options out there may bring you some peace of mind. Is it foolproof? No, but it’s nice back up if you’re not feeling confident in your own tracking ability.

Spiritually, there’s another woman I know who found herself pregnant in some seriously less than ideal circumstances. Mary, Mother of the Living, Queen of Heaven. Perhaps this is a good time to walk more closely with Mary by reading the gospel accounts of the Annunciation through to the Nativity. This is something I did this Advent using the study “Rejoice!” From Ascension Press. Mary was anxious and afraid. The stakes were impossibly high. Her very life was at risk. When it comes to deepening our trust and surrendering our plans, Mary is our girl.

If you’re looking for some good reading as you walk through this season, I recommend “Life Of The Beloved”, “Be Healed”, and “It’s Ok To Start With You”.  

Anxiety doesn’t go away overnight. It just doesn’t. With prayer, therapy, and honest communication with your husband and closest friends, though, it will start to fade a little bit at a time. Perhaps one day you’ll notice that sex is no longer panic inducing, but something you want again. Perhaps you’ll look at your growing girl and think “I kind of want to do that again.” Maybe it will be something entirely different, I don’t know. What I do know is that you won’t feel this way forever and I don’t want the lie that says you will lead you to make a decision you might regret later.

My advice is this. Think carefully before making a permanent decision out of fear only to wish you could take it back in a few months, a year, even several years. The fact that you’re taking your mental and emotional health seriously is a sign of a healthy mother. Your daughter and any future children the Lord has in store for you are blessed to call you “mom.”

Jesus loves you and He is with you, pursuing your heart every day, every moment. More than working on your commitment to your Catholic faith in your daily life, now is the time for you to understand and rest in your belovedness as a daughter of the King of the World, fearfully and wonderfully made. He is for you and for your healing, and He is with you every step of the way. He has beautiful things in store for you now and in the future.

 

All love in Christ,

Krista


RESOURCES

DBSA {Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance}

NAMI {National Alliance of Mental Illness}

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE

MTHFR {genetic mutation associated with depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia}

A FRIEND ASKS – FREE APP (Jason Foundation) – helps provide information, tools, and resources to help a friend (or yourself) who may be in danger of committing suicide

ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION

MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA

The Catholic Guide to Depression by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty


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