Thursday, September 24, 2009

Commas Are Important

It’s so true! An example that my friend Caroline likes to use is this one: “On June 6, 1944 soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy.” Without a comma after 1944, the sentence loses its correct meaning and can cause confusion. There are other examples, too. By the end of this entry, you will understand the perhaps corny-seeming connection that I made in my mind. But you know me well enough by now to know that I don’t mind being corny.

This has been a very long week, to say the least. Traffic has been a nightmare, for starters. Actually, it has been for the last few weeks, since the school year started. Worse traffic should be expected when school is in, but it definitely was not this bad this past spring or even last fall.

Allow me to explain, and please have patience with me while I rant just a little bit. At 11 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, or 8:30 at night, the drive from home to work or vice versa takes anywhere from 59 minutes (my record!) to one hour and 10 minutes. At rush hour on good days, it takes around an hour and 20 minutes, give or take a few. On bad days in the past it has taken an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. I’m pretty sure that at least 10 days out of the past 15, it has taken around 2 hours and 10 minutes to get to work in the morning. This Tuesday, I think we hit a record BAD for a “normal” drive (meaning that we weren’t really affected by any accidents, but it was all a result of my favorite word, “volume”): 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Sometimes I feel like all this traffic is making me a bitter person. I’m really trying not to let it, though. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest! But this blog is about “My Catholic Marriage,” so I’ll get right to that. Simple connection: Daniel has to battle the same traffic, going the same direction that I do, although he doesn’t have to go as far. He doesn’t have anyone to carpool with (I do), so he never gets to use the HOV lane, which is helpful for those mornings when it actually decides to work.

This is not exactly the way to start one’s day off “on the right foot.” And it can cause Daniel and me to get home to each other at the end of the day drained and grumpy. Seriously, it can color my whole day if I’m not careful.

So the traffic is one thing. Another is that, to make a long story short, I started a new position on Monday in a different department in my building, and I am now working 8 to 5 instead of 9 to 5. While this means I get less sleep and am thus more tired during my frustrating drive to work, it is actually a little easier for both Daniel and me to wake up because we now have to wake up at the same time.

The last thing I’ll mention is that Daniel has been having some problems with his internship recently, and they have really been weighing on him.

When kids are in elementary school, they learn that when reading aloud, a comma is where you pause and perhaps take a breath.

On Wednesday night, the middle of the week and the perfect time for a “comma,” Daniel and I were blessed to have the opportunity to attend Eucharistic Adoration. The praise and worship music was so calming, and Daniel and I both really needed to take our stresses to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We really did need to “pause and take a breath” in the spiritual sense. It helped, just like it always does. Although it wasn’t one of the songs that was included in the program, the following song written by Dennis Jernigan came to mind. I first heard it sung by Martin Doman during Adoration at the 2003 Steubenville East Youth Conference in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Since I don’t have much else to say, I think I’ll end with the refrain of “If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile” as a prayer:

If I could just sit with You awhile
If You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me
Though I'm wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You awhile
I need you to hold me
Moment by moment
Till forever passes by

Friday, September 18, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a comment asking me what some of the struggles of marriage are. “Obviously, blending two lives into one cannot be easy at times,” she wrote. “Marriage is an amazing sacrament, and I hope to one day be called to mirror Christ's love in the world through the sacrament of marriage. However, I think us single gals out there need to know some of the areas you really worked as an individual and as a couple to prepare for, along with areas you wish you had prepared more for.”

When I made my list of the joys of marriage last month, I mentioned how easy that task was. For me, listing the struggles of marriage is a little harder. Yes, “blending two lives into one is not easy at times.” Like learning to share a single bathroom sink and mirror when I want to tweeze my eyebrows and Daniel wants to shave. Or dealing with pet peeve issues, like when Daniel leaves recycling in the kitchen sink to be rinsed out “later” or I forget to turn the computer off when I’ve finished using it.

But I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with silly stuff like that. Daniel and I worked through the major stuff in the four and a half years we were together before we got married—religion, values, lifestyle, desires for the future, etc. Early on when we were dating, there was a lot to do in these areas. You can read about that in my entries from last summer and fall. Now there are, of course, the standard newlywed issues such as time (which I’ll talk about now) and money (which I talked about on 9/3).

Time is a big one for Daniel and me, as I know it is for so many couples, because our time together during the week is restricted to a few hours each evening after work. In that limited amount of time, there is dinner to be prepared, enjoyed, and cleaned up. Then there is mail to be sorted, exercise, and lunches to be made for the next day if we actually get around to it. Not to mention other miscellaneous chores or errands to be run. Relaxation is an issue that goes along with time. I am not good at relaxing when I know that there are things that need to be done. Daniel, however, has no problem with this whatsoever. I get upset when I see him sitting around while I feel so stressed by everything I “have to do,” but he sees this as my own problem: “You could sit down with me if you wanted to,” etc. Voila! Tension. And we don’t even have kids yet!

With so little time at home together every day, we never get to bed as early as we would like to. This leads to another issue: waking up in the morning. This might not be one you would think of, but it is a lot harder to find your way out from under the covers when there is another warm body sleeping peacefully next to you!

Speaking of covers, sharing them has proved to be somewhat of a challenge as well. Daniel doesn’t like the sheets to be tucked into the mattress around him, while I like to have a neatly made bed before I climb into it. Once I’m off in dreamland, though, that rule apparently no longer applies. Daniel calls me a “burrito”, because while I’m asleep I like to steal the covers away from him by rolling up into them, leaving him shivering.

Like I said, this stuff is all pretty silly for the most part. I’ve touched on other struggles in the past few months, such as balancing time spent with friends and family, and making decisions about money. The thing is that overall, I feel like Daniel and I did a very good job in preparing for marriage. We had our priorities and goals in sync with one other, which I think is the most important thing. In fact, our lives were already so intertwined before we got married that actually getting married and moving in together made our relationship easier. That is why answering this question was difficult for me. Our situation was pretty unique, though; we know this isn’t how it is for most people.

Maybe some readers who have been married for longer than Daniel and I have can help me out with answering this question about the struggles involved in the blending of lives in the sacrament of marriage…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Lovely Long Weekend

To those of you who posted comments last week, thank you so much for the birthday wishes! I had a wonderful evening with my husband. I know that Thursday wasn’t really a part of this particular long weekend, but it still felt like a weekend to me, so I’m including it.

Daniel and I went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant that we had never tried before or even heard much about, and I’m not sure that was the best decision on my part. I was really hungry after work and didn’t want to drive far to get a meal. The food was pretty good, but it seemed to be much more of a lunch place than a dinner place, and they were out of a lot of the options on the menu. This was interesting, since we arrived to a completely empty restaurant… which also happened to be absolutely freezing, so we left pretty quickly after Daniel finished his burger. To say that he is a much faster eater than me would be an understatement—I took most of my chicken Caesar salad wrap to go so that I could stop shivering.

The important thing, though, was that Daniel and I got to spend the evening together. He gave me a beautiful diamond journey necklace, which I proudly wore to dinner (as though I had chosen someplace fancy). I’ve never owned any real diamond jewelry before other than my engagement and wedding rings, so I was very excited. Daniel, as usual, was very cute in asking over and over again whether I was sure I liked his gift. Of course, I assured him over and over again that I loved it. He always gives the best gifts.

When I got home, I took the necklace off and placed it in the top drawer of the jewelry box Daniel handmade for my birthday in 2006. Every time I open one of the drawers, I stick my nose into it. It still smells like whatever wood stain he used. I love that smell. Like I said, he always gives the best gifts. I am so lucky.

On Saturday, we attended the wedding of a college friend—the first since our own nearly four months ago! This one was a Catholic wedding within a Mass, like ours, and in the same chapel that we were married in. Everything about it was lovely, from the sunny afternoon to the groom’s smile to the abundant sunflowers, and of course the bride! The bride and groom were so clearly full of joy; I didn’t expect to, but I cried. A little. At the reception, Daniel and I were the second ones to sit down during the married couples dance (the bride and groom had to sit down first). It was beautiful watching all those husbands and wives swaying together, until only two couples remained on the floor, married over fifty years.

The next day, Sunday, marked five years since Daniel and I first began dating. I can’t imagine how it must feel to have been married as long as those couples—ten times longer than Daniel and I have even been together, which feels like so long to us—but I look forward to finding out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


When Daniel and I are making decisions, we find ourselves saying pretty often: “We can’t afford that.” Really, most of the time we know this not to be quite true. What we really should be saying is, “That doesn’t fit in with how we’ve decided we want to be spending our money.”

As a couple, we know that we are considerably better off than most of the world. We are comfortable. God has blessed us with so much. I have to remind myself of this pretty often, though… like when I feel like I don’t have “enough” clothes because I don’t have quite the outfit variety that I might like to have. What is “enough”? Or when I feel sorry for myself because I don’t have an iPod or an unlimited text and data plan on my cell phone. That stuff isn’t important, and it is by my own choice that I don’t have them.

The point is that it is not that Daniel and I “can’t afford” to see movies when they come out in theaters, eat out every weekend, etc., etc. It’s that we choose, on a daily basis, not to afford these things. The good thing is that so far we haven’t really had any disagreements about how we should be spending our money; we tend to be on the same page. Becoming homeowners two months after graduating college is not exactly typical. Neither is getting married one year after graduation. These things mean that our priorities are currently a little different than those of most of our friends, and we make our budget based on the priorities we have chosen for our life together.

This means that nearly all of our discretionary money, after paying our mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc., goes toward paying down debt; that way, when we have children we will have fewer monthly payment obligations and will be able to afford having me stay home—a very valuable priority for both Daniel and me. I finished paying down my 2008 Kia Spectra loan in July (yay!) and we are now hard at work on my student loans. Daniel’s student loans will come next. I had no idea there could be such incredible satisfaction in seeing principal amounts go significantly down each time a large lump payment is made on a loan—each one means we’re one step closer to our goal.

And although I’ve touched on it before, our goal is this: to have enough resources to raise a family in a comfortable home on our land (we’re also saving to build on our property within the next five years) and to be able to share our blessings with others, whether those others be family and friends close by or strangers in need halfway around the globe.

Most importantly, though, we have to remember that even now—before we’ve reached this goal—we need to count our blessings and thank God for them, one by one. We’ve already been given so much. When I consider the lives some people in our world have to live, I feel so lucky to be able to go out to dinner with my wonderful husband on special occasions, like tonight (Thursday). I’m turning 23 today!