Monday, September 9, 2013

Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes.

This is going to sound like a cheesy testimonial, but stay with me.

Ladies, if you have been struggling in your relationship with your husband (and sooo many women do), I know a way that you can begin to change -- even save -- your marriage. In five minutes.

Trust me on this. I've seen it happen first hand.

Caveat: If what I'm about to say doesn't apply to you, then it doesn't apply to you. The women to whom it applies will know it. I knew it. Countless other women have known it and will know it.

If your husband is physically abusive, or if he degrades and is cruel to you as a rule, then this post is not applicable. Most husbands, however, are not physically abusive nor willfully cruel. Most husbands are generally decent guys. If you are married to a generally decent (if imperfect!) man, then what I am about to recommend will likely improve your marriage, even to the point of a complete renewal. And the results and changes will begin in less than a day. Perhaps even in five minutes. And no, I'm not kidding. You will save a lot on therapy bills and get a markedly better outcome.

Some background: Over the past few months, I have been shocked and dismayed by the number of women -- faithful Catholic women -- who have contacted me to tell me of their unhappy marriages. Some (not all) of these women were hinting that they even wanted out. I was shaken by the frequency of these conversations as well as the seeming lack of sin and guilt in the husbands -- at least nothing that should be the basis for divorce, a broken family, and devastated children. That these sentiments were and are coming from devout Catholic women who do not believe in divorce and who understand marriage as a sacrament is deeply troubling.

And yet at one time, I might have felt similarly.

Let me be clear: Divorce was never, ever an option for my husband and me, nor was it even in our lexicon. But there was a time in our marriage when tensions were high, feelings of affection were low, and things had generally broken down. Communication was terrible, and we had ceased assuming the good intent of the other. For my part, I had lost respect for my husband, whom I felt was not "a real man" (gosh, it's hard to type those words!). I almost disdained him, and I nagged, nitpicked, and criticized my way through most of our days.

Then one day about ten years ago, something happened that was the equivalent of getting a 2x4 smashed over my head. It was nothing outwardly dramatic, but in this event I recognized in one instant that I had created in my husband all the things that I in turn despised. I was immediately ashamed of what I had done to this man who had married me and who loved me, and I made a paradigm shift on the spot. Nothing has been the same since the day I had my epiphany, and our marriage is now strong and happy. I love and respect my husband dearly.


Cheesy shot, but yes, I love him!

Not long after that redemption of our marriage, I heard about a book by Dr. Laura Schlessinger called Woman Power: Transform Your Man, Your Marriage, Your Life, which I learned was the companion and follow-up to her best-selling book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. After reading the first few pages of Woman Power, I recognized my past self, and I knew that every woman in America needed to read it (including those not yet married).

Years passed, and of course, the book(s) left my mind.

But the recent conversations I've had with these Catholic women brought the books to mind again. Where one might expect that I would recommend a religious book or spiritual reading for these crises, I knew that the women needed something right now, something practical and immediate, to turn their marriages around. And so I started recommending The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands to the women who came to me. My only fear was that they would not follow through. Praise God, at least two of them did, and I want you to hear from them now.

First, a lively and intelligent Catholic woman with a Ph.D, children, and a lot going on outside of the home. She had written to me several times over the months about the sad state of her marriage, blaming it almost entirely on her husband and his "unreasonable demands". Her myriad complaints about this generally decent man were painful for me to read, and even more excruciating was hearing of the cutting, hurtful way she spoke to him.

I urged her to read Proper Care. To her credit, she did finally pick up the book and began to read. Before she even finished it, I received the following:
Started the book today. Yea, embarrassed. You nailed it. And all the little things I thought made our situation different...don't. So really we are just one more example for her book.
You saying you were ashamed of your behavior. I couldn't identify until I started the book. I couldn't see outside of how justified I was. I am so embarrassed. 
Here I work in positive behavior support and couldn't apply it to my home. I even knew of the author and didn't want to be seen with the book and be judged by other women. Ha! 
We even went to therapy. The result? The therapist listened to me gripe, somewhat made me feel justified, and [my husband] got nothing out of it and finally asked if we could stop going. I felt like we failed therapy, but I also knew it wasn't a match for us and therefore wasn't helping. 
And thanks for being someone I could go to. I am careful to only choose people to speak to that will support our marriage and not fuel the fire, but still I felt so alone because I wanted to protect my husband. Also, I didn't feel like I could identify with the Catholic women and their incredibly holy marriages. I was just feeling worse about mine. I am so thankful I had the wild hair to contact you about this. That must have been all God! And desperation. Thank you times 1000! 
Here is a quote I told to [my husband] just a month ago -- "You are not my world. I know you want to be, you just aren't." And I felt justified to hurt him that way because it was true. 
I conveniently ignored that part about leaving my family to become one with my husband. I regularly chose my family over him, among many many other errors like giving everything I had to the kids and expecting him to take care of me. Despite the fact I didn't even shower three days in a row, get dressed, etc. He would ask me to exercise, be healthy, want time to talk, be intimate. All ridiculous requests from someone who clearly didn't get how exhausted I was. I thought he was another demanding child instead of a helper with the kids. I was resentful. Exhausted. Felt justified. 
The therapist didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with what I was saying. 
My husband loves me, provides for us, loves his kids, plays with them, spoils me, gives me affection, takes me on regular dates, sends flowers to my house, bought me the biggest diamond when he proposed. And my response? I don't like roses, I like lilies. (I didn't say that out loud.) And he knows I love chocolates but none of those. Or, I didn't want a big diamond -- he clearly doesn't he know me and that I don't care about that stuff (I told him before we got married I preferred quality to size -- he bought both).   
You know what I sounded like? One big spoiled brat. All the while he works long hours at a job the last 8 years where he is verbally abused by his boss. A job he absolutely hates. But can't leave. Because our lifestyle doesn't afford him to make less. I say step down, we will make it work, but he has told me time and time again my spending habits don't back up my words, so while the sentiment is nice...I just kept thinking when he leaves the job, things will be better. The truth is, our marriage maybe wouldn't have lasted to another job. 
And also, what about "for better or worse"? He was going through one of the most trying things of his life and I was focused on how much it was negatively affecting me. Most of his anti-my-family is really attempts at protecting me from the drama. He is a good man. He is trying. I am ashamed. I don't deserve him. But I will make it better.

I asked her if I could use her words for this post and she readily agreed:
Anything I can do to help others. I felt so trapped, lost. I thought, "I blew my one chance at happiness and now I have to live with this man forever. Poor me. My bed. Now lie in it." Feeling so hopeless and alone. Very much felt controlled and indignant. Fighting mad. I would not be walked on, etc. He isn't perfect, but I never considered his point of view. Never thought I could be even half the problem. And there is something very wrong with that.

Ladies, let's be honest. We all know women like this, and it might very well be ourselves. But reading just a few pages of one book has saved her marriage. In minutes.

And then, another woman who was a virtual stranger reached out to me telling me how alone she felt in her marriage. She laid out her complaints against her husband and sounded, to me, like she was near despair. I asked if her husband was a decent man and she said he was a "great man". I asked her if he was a faithful Catholic and she said that he certainly was. After hearing that, I proceeded to gently, lovingly "let her have it", and I recommended The Proper Care and Feeding of HusbandsA few months later, I received the following:
I've been meaning to tell you that I did read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands after I spoke with you a few months ago, and it helped tremendously!!!! 
…I love my husband very much and sometimes I need a new perspective to help me realize how good things really are. Anyway, thank you for recommending that book….

When I asked her if I could share, I got this generous response:

Yes of course!  With so much divorce and brokenness in the world, I told [my husband] I want our marriage to be in protest of that. Thank you for sharing the testimonies that will only help so many hurting couples!

Now to the second caveat: Dr. Laura is not Catholic (she is Jewish), so these are obviously not Catholic books on marriage. I hope it goes without saying that I do not endorse or condone anything in these books that contradict the Catholic Faith. But the bulk of the content is sound and takes into account the inherent dignity of man and woman, and the truths of human nature.

Also, feel free to read Woman Power first (as I did). It is can stand alone, and will lead you to want to read Proper Care anyway (though by then you may not even need to!). In fact, I read Woman Power first and only read Proper Care last week for the first time, as I wanted to make sure both were fresh in my mind when I wrote this post.

Women, I want us to love our men -- our decent, loving husbands -- in the self-donative way that God intended, and not with the disposition of the current toxic culture. We can crush our husbands or uplift them with a word, a glance, or an attitude. Honestly, ladies, we hold all the power to destroy or save our marriages. Read the book(s) and tell me what happens in the aftermath (either here in the comments, or email me privately).

Too many marriages end in divorce or go on for years and decades with both spouses in misery. It does not have to be that way. Marriages can be saved, children's homes and stability preserved, right now. Change your marriage in minutes. No joke. Please, try it. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.


*I did a follow-up post of women's reactions after reading the book, here.

Also, I was thrilled when the Diocese of Omaha linked this blog post to their website!

+++++++



I should state that I am not a paid promoter for Dr. Laura or her books (although I have always loved her work). In re-reading both books last week, I checked them out of my local library. No doubt your library has a copy or two. Check them out! And if you buy through a link on my blog, not a penny goes to me -- all amazon proceeds go to the orphans and the families working to bring them home.



130 comments:

  1. I read it nine years ago before I was Catholic, and it changed everything. Still on my bookshelf too. You don't even need to read it all, just pick it up and read something. It's one of the books that you can read for five minutes (truly! as Leila said) and it will reorient your thinking.

    Have a good dose of humble pie first though.

    Thanks Leila for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't read these books, but I'm so glad you wrote this! My husband and I have a very happy marriage, but I know toxic thoughts and attitudes can slowly infiltrate over time. I have to watch out for them. I figured out years ago that my attitude, thoughts, perspective, disposition, etc., have a huge impact on our marriage. When you focus on improving yourself, your relationships will also improve, especially marriage. After all, we cannot control other people; we can only control ourselves. And it is amazing how much our own thoughts and actions directly influence those around us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok, hon. Giving it a shot. Just purchased Woman Power on kindle. Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! I purchased it and it sat on my shelf for a few months. I really had such defense mechanisms up. Purchasing it is the first step. And it does require humble pie. Praying for you!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your prayers! It has helped! :)

      Delete
  4. Thanks, Leila! Will get these asap:)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Leila, as I told you on FB, I was really upset w/ my husband over the weekend. I left him a message on his voicemail telling him that our marriage is not thriving, we need help, ect. I contacted a marriage retreat that sounds wonderful (http://www.retrouvaille.org/) but isn't possible for us to go to because my husband works weekends. I thought/prayed: "what now Lord? Are you just going to leave it like this with no help?" And then you wrote this post. :-)

    I said one thing in our argument over the weekend that made sense to me: "I'll work on me, and you work on you." Then I realized through prayer that I have a lot to work on and most of my complaints are created from unrealistic expectations of my husband. Anyway, this post came in good timing. Thank you, and I'm ordering the book right now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Did you know Dr Laura was baptized Catholic? Her mother was Italian Catholic, and her father was Jewish. Just fyi!

    Every woman should read Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. If you start reading it, and you want to throw it across the room, then YOU REALLY NEED TO READ IT! All her books are easy to read with lots of examples. I give this book as a wedding present.

    When I read it, it showed me how much PAIN men are in. They don't express it, because when they do, their words and requests are dismissed. After years of this lack of respect, it seems many men give up and just wait for the day the kids are gone.

    When a man marries, he gives his heart and soul to his wife. He is emotionally vulnerable. In a man's mind, vulnerability is weakness. So, our relationship is so special, and we wives have so much power!

    It is in our own best interests to keep our marriages together and happy. I love this book, get a hardbound copy and keep it forever, it needs to be reread. I am an empty nester, and have seen many marriages die. I would not want to be 55 and alone. Thanks Leila for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As someone who has lost the battle, it was my husband who made me feel as though I was totally worthless (he was justifying his own indiscretions and belittling me to the point where he no longer saw the strong person I had once been), I can tell you that I recommend anything that can turn the tide. He once promised both me and our children that "divorce" would never be in his vocabulary but young girls on the internet can turn a man's head quite easily. Thanks to God - and to support systems like Leila, my children, my counselor - I am still here today. I haven't read these particular books but I do like Dr. Laura's practical good sense and I also recommend the Kendrick brothers' movie Fireproof and the companion book, The Love Dare - they are based fully on Christian principles and they are helpful to me - even though you can't save a marriage if the other person has decided that it is his turn to be "selfish" - not sure when mine was but that's neither here nor there. As a practicing Catholic, we will always be married in the eyes of the Church and I will always honor our vows. I pray for him daily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your post was familiar to my life. Four years of separation, several false starts home and everything that goes with it. Keep praying, God is faithful. Charlene (http://rejoiceministries.org/) is not catholic but her daily newsletter kept me standing when almost everyone (never God) thought I was justified in walking. Praying for your intentions today. My husband did eventually return to our home and marriage. God is good, all the time!

      Delete
    2. I can relate Catholic Grammie. Once one person decides to stop trying and divorce is the only answer, there's nothing the other person can say or do to change their mind. I wish it wasn't so, and I hope that more marriages turn the corner and are not killed. Marriage is a great good...and that's why it can be turned into such a great evil in some people's lives.

      Delete
  8. Emm, great idea to give this as a wedding gift!!

    Leila, do you recommend these books even for women who aren't struggling? Meaning, could they help prevent future problems?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will answer that, yes! I think I will need it as an annual tune up to ensure I am not getting off track. It totally is the little thoughts that you don't realize, perpetuated by society, that can be so insidious!!!

      Delete
  9. Leila, you might just get the brains of our operation to post on this. I have been properly fed and cared for, for many years now. Emma, yup! And catholic grammie, ugh, dammit! God bless you, you are one of my favorites around here:)
    (Note the strategic change in the profile pic. I'm not ignant)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read a book recently which had the same epiphany moment for me and recognizing my "justifications" were really excuses - it changed my life, as I sure these books have for so many women (and I do intend to read them, also!!)

    I actually had to stop and think, "Wait... did I read this book and email Leila about it??" when I read this line, because it sounds SO MUCH like me, it was eery:

    "I am careful to only choose people to speak to that will support our marriage and not fuel the fire, but still I felt so alone because I wanted to protect my husband. Also, I didn't feel like I could identify with the Catholic women and their incredibly holy marriages."

    Wow.

    Thanks for this post, Leila, I'm sure it certainly will change lives!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great comments, guys!! And wow, I did not know that Dr. Laura was baptized Catholic! That mark of Christ is still on her soul. :)

    Nicole, YES! Absolutely, it will help any wife, trust me. Just re-reading the book was worth it.

    There is a letter in Woman Power from a 75-year-old man that just destroyed me the first time I read it, and it has stayed with me. That, and another one from a man who fearfully asked his wife to read Proper Care, and she laughed at him, read it, then mocked him saying something like, "That only works for women married to real men."

    Emm T. Nester: You nailed it on the vulnerability of these husbands. It breaks my heart. Reading the books will help women really understand.

    Catholic Grammie… My prayers are always with you! And since you are still married sacramentally, I would encourage you to read the books.

    Chris, after meeting your wife, I vouch that you have hit the jackpot, man!!

    Amy, isn't it almost scary how similar we women are?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Divorce is so hard on kids. Was super hard on me.
    I am in a super great marriage and feel so blessed. I hope someone out there is helped by this. Your posts and comments are awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  13. One more note about Woman Power: It's got a workbook/journaling component that takes up many of the pages. I personally skipped that part, but it may be of help to some women.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I needed this post today!! I am blessed to have a good marriage to a man I KNOW is a wonderful man (I mean, I regularly think, "Thank goodness I married this man!"), but oh gosh, we have our times when weaknesses, disappointments, selfishness, lack of communication, etc seep in. And this weekend was one of those weekends (plus, we've only been married 3 years, so there's plenty left to learn). Also, my husband is very "masculine" in that he isn't super verbal about his feelings, so I struggle to really read him a lot (the maddening thing is that it seems the less verbal men tend to be some of the MOST sensitive men who have very deep feelings in spite of appearing to be rock walls on the outside). To be honest, I've read or at least skimmed just about every Christian marriage advice book that has been published in the past decade thanks to my former career, but I have not read this one. And I think I need to read something with Dr. Laura's style right now.

    Also, I agree that comparing marriages is toxic... a lot of folks assume that all the other marriage out there are "happy and holy." But we really never know what is going on privately, and many marriages need a lot of prayer and help. We just can't see it, and comparisons fuel our own discontent.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I read that Proper Care within my first year of marriage, it was a wedding gift from my mother-in-law. It was great to start off my marriage reading that book but I think a refresher is always good. No matter how awesome we think we are doing there will always be areas for improvement.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Also, my husband is very "masculine" in that he isn't super verbal about his feelings, so I struggle to really read him a lot (the maddening thing is that it seems the less verbal men tend to be some of the MOST sensitive men who have very deep feelings in spite of appearing to be rock walls on the outside)

    Sarah, this is the very type of man that Dr. Laura addresses! You will LOVE this book!!! And so will your husband. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jessica and Chris, thank you so very much! :)

    Leila, as always, I will follow your advice. Maybe someday I'll share with your readers what it is like to be in the depths of depression, suicidal, and to have someone reach out to a complete stranger and become one of your best friends and a true life line. <3

    To everyone out there, I must admit - I thought I was "safe" - my marriage is ending after 32 years, so please, don't become complacent. I also highly recommend praying the rosary, adoration, and confession. Get to know your priest - he can be a wonderful support also.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Catholic Grammie, a million hugs to you, my friend!! You are an amazing woman.

    ReplyDelete
  19. LOL, I had to change the title of this post. Upon looking at it, I realized that "Save your marriage. Fast." could imply that I wanted women to fast!! I didn't want to turn anyone off by the title, ha ha.

    Although fasting always helps. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What? I'm heading to Jack-in-the -Box for 15 tacos. I suppose the hair shirt and stigmata starter kit can go as well?

      Delete
  20. Chris, you're killing me, LOL!! (I'm just imagining what a stigmata starter kit might look like!!)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I never read the books but the beginning of my marriage was almost the end. I was under the impression that as a woman and a wife I was in control and had to have the upper hand on everything. I disrespected my husband verbally often, put him down, and at the sign of the slightest argument I would threaten divorce. These things were factors in him developing a drinking problem, and our marriage almost dissolved. I ended up realizing (through a variety of sources, including Mother Church as this coincided with the time I converted, or reverted) that a man can be built up by his wife by her words and actions, and actually become the man he is called to be through her support and love. Our marriage did a 180! I never imagined marriage could be so good, but it's actually what God intends for all His children!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Manda, amen! Exactly! The power in relationships belongs to the woman! And we women tend to take cues from the culture (which is sooooo disparaging about males and anything in their nature -- to the extent of denying that there are male/female differences at all), which really messes up a marriage.

    God bless you for turning it around, 180! That's exactly how it works!!!

    (And yes, I added a cheesy photo to the OP.)

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. “We can crush our husbands or uplift them with a word, a glance, or an attitude.” As a husband I can relate to this. You can crush or uplift your husband and never know it.

    Maybe this is more a man’s perspective, but imagine a triangle with God at the top and you and your spouse at the bottom right & left corners. As you focus and move closer and closer to God (top of triangle), you naturally move closer to each other (sliding up the sides of the angle). Perfect union is the top point where all three are one. This has been the general trend in our 14 year marriage so far.

    One more thing. Get rid of and confess ANY artificial contraception and/or ANY sexual acts outside Church teaching! This is key!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hahaha. I don't know. I imagine though, if you had to sit through 4 hours of testimony in favor of gender neutral bathrooms, you could probably develop a spontaneous st Rita style thorn wound. Now I did it!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just purchased the kindle version via your amazon link!

    I also read the book "Love and Respect" recently (that may not be the exact title). It was definitely eye opening. I still get bogged down though and end up feeling justified in many of my attitudes and actions. Mostly because I feel like I'm the one that's always trying to make things better. I'm quite sure I will be convicted horribly upon reading this book. Thanks a lot...LOL! But seriously, thank you! Any help is always good!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Chris, you are cracking me up! Thanks for the visualization. Theology of the Body is also an excellent book/course, etc. to be well-acquainted with (preferably, before marriage, in today's world! I bow to the wisdom of my children!).

    ReplyDelete
  27. Chris, forget the St. Rita style thorn, I may have spontaneously combusted, ha! (We must laugh or we cry!)

    KC, tell me about it, ha ha!

    Catholic Grammie, agreed! I adore TOB. The trouble is that the folks who were contacting me already had a good grasp of it, but they were still blinded to the ways that they were killing their marriages and crushing their husbands every day. So, this is the splash of cold water in the face that is needed right.this.very.second to make that 180. TOB is more of the ocean to swim in...

    ReplyDelete
  28. I want to second Leila's point here about TOB. I love this post because it addresses a VERY real issue in the Church that maybe a lot of folks don't talk about much... young people (and perhaps even a little older) who are faithful Catholics, can quote all the Church teachings, etc who are *miserable* in marriage. I also experienced this in the dating realm... it was really, really a disillusioning experience to revert to Catholicism an think, "Oh, great, now that I am Catholic and have been exposed to all these beautiful teachings, I'll meet a man who also has read this and we'll both be SO ready for marriage!" Oh my, how that was shattered... I even dated guys getting their MA's in Marriage Theology who struggled with serious issues that could be fatal to a marriage. And in fairness, for some seasons, I was hardly "wife material" regardless of my knowledge of Church teachings. :(

    I also teach NFP... these are couples clearly taking a counter-cultural road in their marriage and yet I witness the interpersonal and relational struggles, the depression, the disillusionment. I think it all comes down to the reality that Catholics are human too, with sin, baggage, weaknesses, etc that need refinement in a marriage (and each marriage really is about two unique individuals living out their vocation... not a generic man and woman... but don't get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of couples learning the theology and teachings!). Our priest liked to emphasize to us that we don't instantly "become one" on our wedding day. We BEGIN the lifelong process of becoming one on our wedding day. That has helped me keep perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you very much for this tip. A lot of marriages are falling apart because it did not have a firm foundation. Some people especially young ones think that marriage is a game that you can quit on when you do not like it anymore. I used to think this way. I thought that if my husband did not do what I wanted him to do, I can call it quits. But I am a Catholic and I believe that marriage marks the start of forever. It will take great effort to keep but I just realized that you have to take care of your husband like you do your child and your husband to do the same. It is and should be a give and take. The most important thing is not to the weight of how much you have given and how much you have received because husbands and wives are different individuals with different capacities.

    ReplyDelete
  30. One thing I have thought about that nags at me...you know that I already agree w/ you on this 100% per my previous comment, but here is something that I do struggle with in my marriage: While I admit that a lot of our marital problems are contributed to my own failings and short-comings, some of the problem over the years is that I have had to be the "stronger" one because my husband has a very, very, passive personality. I wouldn't describe myself as aggressive but I'm not passive either. I am also the disciplinarian in the family. Believe me, this makes things very difficult on everyone and especially me, because it's not a role that I want to take but have been forced to take, because my husband won't do it. (Or I should say that he has a hard time with it, but he does try.)I grew up in a family where my father was the head of the family in everything, including being the disciplinarian, and it's very difficult for me to assume this role. I have had to coach and teach my husband pretty much during our married years on how to discipline our kids, and my "teaching" him doesn't help him feel like a man. Every time I have to do this, I feel like I'm emasculating him, and it feels horrible. Yet, the kids have to be disciplined. So for now, the kids listen to me, but disrespect him. I do believe that it's primarily because he wasn't really disciplined much as a kid; the family was extremely laid back and there were no set rules or curfews--everyone just came and went as they pleased.

    I guess my point is, that a lot of men these days seem to be "spineless" (for lack of a better word) because they haven't been brought up to be a "man"; not many fathers these days (and days past) really spend the time with their boys to form them for the days ahead to be strong men so they can be strong for their wives and children. And so, the women are forced to take over. At least, this is how it has had to be in my case. Again, it's not a role I want, and I am trying to help my husband to give him the confidence he needs to discipline his children and do nothing but build him up to the kids. But it's hard. It does take a tole on the marriage and it does make it difficult to keep up the respect. I love my husband but I hate the role of being the head of the family. I struggle a lot with resentment.

    That's all I wanted to say--women do need to work on overtaking their marriage and keep a check on their emotions, but sometimes strain on marriage can be a cause from imbalance and a sense of constantly being overwhelmed too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear a lot of 'me' in this. Pity. Would you "permit" your husband to list your own flaws openly? The answer would be the same I would give on this working. But that's just my opinion. What I hear is "please make so and so a better person, so I don't have to be."

      Delete
  31. Becky, I truly understand what you are saying, and that kind of complaint (of the man not leading the family or not taking charge with the kids) is very, very common. When we gab with girlfriends we hear it, don't we girls? :)

    But I think the book really answers that, or makes it sort of moot by the end of it. You will have to tell me what you think after you read the book(s). I think that when you implement the stuff the book says, there is a good chance that communication and a willingness to be on the same page rises exponentially. I look forward to seeing what you think!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so, Leila. I do want to change my ways for the sake of my marriage but some days I feel like I've been handed both reigns of the marriage. He is a good man though, yes a good Catholic too. I've been told many times how lucky I am to have a good man in my life and I know it too, so that's a start.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, one more thing and then I'll stop. :-) A good classic show that I love to watch from time to time is Little House on the Prairie. Why do I love to watch it? Because of "Ma", Caroline Ingalls. She loves her man, she respects her man, and her man is her hero! True, their life is based all on a script, but I have seen marriages like theirs. I want to be like "Ma", as corny as that sounds! And when I do watch that show, I notice that our marriage tends to be a little better because I'm trying to be like "Ma", loving, respectful and appreciative. However, when I watch shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" (which used to a favorite of mine), I find myself disrespecting Dennis more and we get in more fights. I've quit watching shows like that since.

      Delete
    3. Becky, one scene from the book The Long Winter just nails it for me. The family is close to starvation, and Pa complements Ma's dinner of a few corn cakes. Ma's response is "You're such a good provider." How many of us would say that in those circumstances? I think I'd be griping about "you moved us out to the middle of nowhere" every day.

      Delete
    4. Caroline! This is so great! And that last part made me laugh!!!

      Delete
  32. Exposure to media tells us that the sequence is Love, Courtship, Marriage. This leads to disappointment and disaster. The proper sequence is Marriage, Courtship, Love. Courtship does not end after marriage. We cannot take the other for granted. It is by constant courtship where we see more and more the goodness of our spouse that leads to true love.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for this post.

    May I also recommend a movie and three books to your advice.

    My sister and mother recommended the movie, "Enchanted April" [ http://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-April-Josie-Lawrence/dp/B004SIP7D0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378831221&sr=8-1&keywords=enchanted+april ]. It is about four women who are having problems with their relationships with their men. They rent a castle in Italy for a month to retreat from it all and discover what they had forgotten.

    The first book is by John A. Sanford: "What Men Are Like" [ http://www.amazon.com/What-Men-Like-John-Sanford/dp/0809129965/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378831204&sr=8-1&keywords=What+Men+Are+Like ]. Keen insights into modern men.

    The second book is by Robert Johnson: "He: Understanding Masculine Psychology" [ http://www.amazon.com/He-Understanding-Masculine-Psychology-Perennial/dp/0060963964/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378831344&sr=8-1&keywords=he ]. This one helps explain the kind of quest men are on, most often unconsciously.

    Finally, the third book is by Homer: "The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation " [ http://www.amazon.com/Odyssey-Fitzgerald-Translation-Homer/dp/0374525749/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378831795&sr=1-1&keywords=the+odyssey+fitzgerald+translation ]. This Greek epic powerfully describes how love may endure as a matter of our shared humanity, even in circumstances not enhanced by the revelations of Jesus and the supernatural grace brought to those of us who have committed to each other through the sacrament of matrimony.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yea I'm so excited for a new read and this post came at a perfect time. My husband and I have always, Always struggled with our communication and this past weekend had me on edge to say the least. I spoke to my mom last night and she reminded me that I am a strong woman and I have the power to change things before everything goes into chaos, simply by putting aside my frustration for a moment and talking to my spouse as my equal. I struggle with that sometimes so I am very excited to read these books. Thank you Leila for always encouraging us.

    ReplyDelete
  35. My wife is my connection to goodness. I am incapable of doing any good for anyone except with her and through her. I go to Church with her. She's away this weekend and the thought of going to mass never even crossed my mind. We once went to counseling at Catholic Charities and after she heard our story, the counselor said: "so I get it, you're (my wife) good, and you're (me) bad". She goes to healing masses. I get blessed and nothing. She gets blessed and she goes down like a ton of bricks. I think it's a hypnotic suggestion. She believes it's the Holy Spirit. I believe she believes it. But I don't believe it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds so tough! Bill, I would challenge to look at "goodness" beyond piety (i.e. going to Mass, healing services, etc). Do you ever do kind things for others? That's goodness! Sometimes it's easier for us women to connect to the "feeling" side of spirituality, but that doesn't mean that you are incapable of doing good.

      Delete
  36. Wonderful post/initiative, Leila.

    Speaking as a man, it intrigues me to observe how strenuously the culture at large (in lock step with feminism gone off the rails?) is actively working to emasculate/disempower men. I don't know what's on your TV screens in the US, but here you can rarely watch an hour of TV without one or more commercials "humorously" portraying a woman as the smart, decisive and effective half of a couple, while the clueless "mere male" bumbles and stumbles his way through some ordinary, everyday, domestic situation. Which, perversely, suits a lot of men, I suspect - allowing them to lazily act out the stereotypical, supine, beer-in-one hand-and-TV-remote-in-the-other type of husband.

    And this is manifesting earlier and earlier in men's lives. Witness the unwillingness, for example, even of young Catholic boys nowadays to serve at the altar - why bother when the girls are there to do the job?

    Here's a link to a YouTube site with some good videos urging men to stand up and be counted (again) as husbands, fathers and leaders:

    Fix the Family

    ReplyDelete
  37. This came at the perfect time. My marriage is pretty strong, but it can always use strengthening. But I passed this onto a friend whose brother and sister-in-law are having serious marital problems. I'm praying this might help them!

    Also, Sarah, I love what your wrote:
    "Also, my husband is very "masculine" in that he isn't super verbal about his feelings, so I struggle to really read him a lot (the maddening thing is that it seems the less verbal men tend to be some of the MOST sensitive men who have very deep feelings in spite of appearing to be rock walls on the outside)."

    That is So true for my husband. I continue to learn how to nurture him and our relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yes, keep help both women and men with your wish blogs

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'm sorry, what I wanted to say was this "Yes, keep helping both women and men with your wise blogs."

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thank you for making the distinction at the beginning that this does not apply to women who are in abusive relationships (physical OR emotional).

    Nine years ago as a young newlywed (non-Catholic at the time) I read these books because my marriage was already in shambles. My husband would make comments frequently about my failings, persuading me to believe that everything would be perfect "if only" I would be his version of Mrs. Wonderful. Yet no matter how hard I tried to please him, be his idea of submissive, etc., I was never good enough. I was belittled and spoken down to on a regular basis.

    Naive, bewildered and depressed, I read Dr. Laura's books and while I didn't see myself in them (I am not the nagging, rude, harsh, or demanding wife she describes), I bought even further into the idea that our marriage truly was my fault. I couldn't see that I actually was being treated abusively (most women in emotionally/verbally abusive relationships don't for a long time -- they figure if they aren't being punched and kicked, they aren't abused), so her disclaimer about it not applying to abusive relationships went right over my head.

    I think Dr. Laura's advice is very useful for a lot of marriages. However, due to my experience I would caution anyone who is thinking about recommending it to other women to be extra careful (as you are!) before doing so. Most of the time an emotionally abusive husband will come across as being the near-perfect partner in the eyes of others and he's very adept at keeping all the focus on his wife's imperfections and faults. If a woman seems insecure or is indicating that the problems in her marriage are more about control/disrespect/guilt trips (rather than "he won't take out the trash" or "he just sits in front of the tv and grunts at me when I try to talk") she really shouldn't be reading the book. A better book for her would be "The Emotionally Destructive Relationship" by Leslie Vernick and a copy of Pope John Paul II's "Letter to Women" and "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry that happened to you. In the first page of Dr. Laura's book she said adultery, abuse, and addiction are different.

      Delete
  41. Leila,
    The photo is not cheesy unless you mean Danish Havarti cheese with straight Bourbon. The photo is lovely and the lighting is nice and captures you both with only several shadows each. Frame that one.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Miranda - That is great to hear how God has blessed you and your marriage! Our first vocation is holiness, and when we begin living that vocation out, it can do wonders for our marriage. My wife and I have been married for 10 years now and since having my own "reversion" to the Catholic Faith in 2006, I know I am trying much harder to be a good husband, and for my marriage to be pleasing in the sight of God.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thanks, Leila, for a great post! I've had the Proper Care since right around the time I got married and have referred to it numerous times since the first time I read it. What a fantastic book. One of the best things I took away from it is to praise my husband - not only to his face, but also when I'm talking about him to others. We have a great marriage - and it does take work, but I thank God for him every day.

    ReplyDelete
  44. This is great. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Catholic revert I really appreciate it. http://reflectiverevert.com/

    ReplyDelete
  45. Leila, thank you for writing this perfect post! Clearly it is needed. We all start slipping in our thinking and this is a tune up I believe, as well the manual on my husband that I never had when we got married. It was also eye opening how our upbringing and culture can alter perspective in a way that is detrimental to our marriages in a way beyond the obvious. While it didn't say, hey this is 100% your fault, it did say I had the power to make change, to shift the culture in our house to a more positive one, etc. I saw myself all over that book. Embarrassing for sure, but needed for how defensive I came at our differences. While I knew TOB, my dh did not. So I lumped him in as always wanting intimacy because he was a guy. But reading the book, I do believe that is his way to emotionally connect and be reassured and pulling away from him just made it worse. I had minimized the importance so much. I love the comment where she said if you want to throw the book, you really need to read it. lol. I sat on the book for two months at least and then stalled on the se.x chapter for a few weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  46. For the women who say their husband is too weak and passive, let me ask this question - the last time he took charge of a situation did you support him, or complain and criticize his decision? I know I've given up making even small decisions (like where to go for dinner) because I know there is a good chance I will be criticized for it (either overtly or through body language). Better to just let her do it than face the rejection and criticism...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, it sounds like this book might be designed for your situation. I certainly hope I don't push my husband into thinking he can have no opinion or no ability to "make a call", but sometimes, as women, we get pushy without even realizing it. Another reason I should read the book! (I don't THINK I am that nagging or critical, at least not all the time, but there are times I catch myself... )

      Delete
    2. Just for the record, I have No idea what this guy is talking about:)

      Delete
  47. Can you elaborate on how you created those things in your husband? I'm not sure I follow you.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Caroline and Becky, I love the Little House series. I do think Ma and Pa had a great marriage. It is definitely easy to romanticize it, though. I read some more background books on the Ingalls family, and Ma actually strongly disliked (hated?) all the moving and remote locations. She eventually put her foot down and insisted they stay in a town so the girls could go to a school instead of homeschooling. So while I do think she likely was a wonderful wife as reflected in Laura's memories, she definitely hit her limit with all of Pa's moves and his desire to be away from civilization :). I just remember that when I am tempted to imagine that their relationship, or anyone's relationship, was always in perfect harmony. With any great relationship, they clearly had to compromise and we don't really know how those conversations happened.

    They still inspire me, though! They clearly had some pretty dark days in their lives with the loss of a baby boy, Mary's challenges, frontier dangers, and other material hardships, and they still remained strong throughout their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  49. So I was perusing Twitter to come across, Women Save Your Marriages in 5 minutes. thrown out there by National Catholic Register! ('Cause at first glance, it does sound like the marital equivalent of a "Get Rich Quick" scheme. ;) ) Imagine my surprise when I clicked the link only to be taken to the Reg's post on good Catholic bloggers for the day. Which then of course of took me to Big Pulpit, which listed this post first, in their list of noted Catholic blog posts for today.

    AND it's written by my friend Leila, on one of my favorite blogs. I had to check this out...

    Wow!

    I am in desperate need of this book.

    I wouldn't say that we have a rough marriage, or even that we're going through a rough patch. But even before I was pregnant with #6 (born in May) I had been feeling very "put upon". It's definitely gotten worse since my little Bugaboo (#6) was born. And I know, because of it, I've been putting my husband on the way back burner while I try to take care of the kids, get and keep the house cleaned up, start the school year, and manage to find 5 minutes during the day where I am by myself, to pray (or go to the bathroom).

    I think what I need is a little change in perspective. To find the book, and then find time to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Caroline, your honesty is refreshing and I laughed out loud because I would be griping too!
    I am really enjoying reading all the comments and very glad I opened up this article.
    Seems to me that women are more vulnerable to the pulls of what the world tells us how we should be than what our Heavenly Father tells us. We ALL need to be reminded no mater how "safe" we think our marriages are.

    ReplyDelete
  51. John Smith, do you think there is a possibility your wife would be open to reading the book?

    Kaitlin, I guess it's the idea that I would disdain or look down on my husband thinking he was "less than" a man, not good enough, not doing things right, and then he would start to react to those cues by being more hesitant, more distant, less likely to act, more annoyed when I turned to others for advice, support than him -- He'd react by being "less" of what I wanted him to be. So, I'd get the opposite result of what I had desired. I wanted him to become "better", but I was doing everything possible to push him away, poison our communication and his confidence, and I was making him "worse". When a man feels that his wife (his world!) does not respect him as a man, he becomes "less" of a man, both to himself, and then again, in his wife's eyes. Does that make sense?

    ReplyDelete
  52. I think that Ma and Pa Ingalls never had a perfect marriage (who does?), but that Ma always respected him as the man and loved him accordingly, even though there were disagreements and even fights. One thing the book really hits on that is so important for women today is priorities. There is an exchange in the book where the woman calls Dr. Laura and gripes that her husband is not "supporting" her in her career and her desire to work the weekend and evening hours. Of course, he is also prioritized behind the kids, the friends, the mother-in-law, etc. So, Dr. Laura turned it around on her and said, "Why would he support you in putting him as the last thing on your priority list"? Bam. Scales fall from the eyes.

    As someone said above, this is a book that gives women a quick re-orientation of thought. A new perspective. And it works incredibly quickly. That is why the word "epiphany" comes up so much.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Emily, if you are still reading, will you email me? littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thank you for this, Leila. I bought the book and read it right away (Kindle version on my phone). I remember reading The Surrendered Wife years ago and I found it extremely helpful at the time. This is so much better though, as it really gets into the meat of why the things we do hurt our men and how to make it better for ourselves and our husbands.
    I've always been shocked at how some women talk about their husbands when they're not around, and refused to participate (although I won't say I've never complained about my husband in public, sadly!). Still, I tend to be an "oversharer" and then get mad that he offers a solution when I really just want him to say, "yeah that sucks". I've also lost sight of how amazing it is that my husband works so hard for me, our son and my mother, and never complains one bit. I'm a very lucky woman!
    Just in the last two days since finishing the book, I find myself much happier in general, our limited time together much more enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to putting all of these tips to work in the future :).
    11 years of marriage, and there is still for me to learn!

    ReplyDelete
  55. That should have said "11 years of marriage, and there is still so much for me to learn!".

    ReplyDelete
  56. I love this stuff! I'm a horrible wife!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Hi Mrs. Miller, may you and your husband continue to grow together in your love of Christ. God bless you. It's truly refreshing to read women write about their role in making a marriage work. Thank you for what you're doing here on this blog.

    I lost the battle. There are days when I still believe that my decision to end my marriage was a huge mistake. I have a very hard time thinking about, let alone talking about what I lost. Ending my marriage, getting divorced was the *most* hateful thing I've ever had to do in my entire life!

    I wonder if anyone knows of any support groups out there for other divorced-and-Catholic refugees like myself?

    Thank you,

    ReplyDelete
  58. Greg, that just hurts my heart! Because I am certain that both of you were/are decent people who could have made it work with some adjustments. I am so sorry. I don't know of any such support groups, but I wonder if anyone else reading does?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Greg,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your situation and I'll certainly keep you in my prayers. In the meanwhile, here are some online resources I found, which I hope will help you:

    http://www.familyministries.org/resources/index.asp?c_id=7

    http://www.divorcedcatholic.com

    http://www.foryourmarriage.org/divorce-and-healing-ministry/

    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Margo, I'll definitely look into them.

      Di te ament.

      Delete
  60. Greg - this is a good resource too: http://www.catholicsdivorce.com/

    ReplyDelete
  61. Well, I am THRILLED that every copy of Proper Care and Feeding and Woman Power is either checked out or on-hold/in-transit in my local Phoenix Library system. That was not the case yesterday. Way to go, Phoenix wives!! I hope a similar thing is happening in other library systems.

    And JoAnna and Margo, thanks for the resources for Greg!

    ReplyDelete
  62. The title of this blog is grossly misleading. "Save your marriage in five minutes." Baloney. It took longer than five minutes to read your post and to find your recommendation is to go out and buy two books. I'm a writer, and I'm amazed by the bait and switch. Either the title is a con, or you don't respect the meaning of the words you use, and are therefore a bad writer. You could have summarized what the books' approach is that works so miraculously, at least, to at least remotely justify your title.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Roseanne, hello to you, too! :)

    You must be a lot of fun at parties.

    And would it be rude to say that I suddenly feel overwhelmingly sorry for Mr. Sullivan, if there is one? I will pray for that poor man.

    Take care, now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And come to think of it, I would have to say you are a bad reader, since I did not ask folks to go out and "buy two books". Perhaps you should read more carefully?

      What do you write? I am suddenly very interested in your work.

      Delete
  64. Roseanne, my apologies. My initial responses to your rude comment were uncharitable, and I am sorry for that. I will clarify for you, since I don't think you "got" what other readers apparently understood. The "five minutes" does not start when one clicks on the blog, of course. The "five minutes" starts when one begins reading Chapter One of the book. Within five minutes, most women will have an "aha" moment. A paradigm shift will occur, one that will change the dynamics of the marriage immediately. If you try it yourself, you will see. (Or maybe not -- there are exceptions, and that should go without saying.)

    I hope that was more clear for you.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Roseanne,

    What a harsh and uncharitable reaction to one of the finest and most praiseworthy initiatives I (and I'm sure scores of others, as evident from their glowing comments) have come across from a charitable Catholic in a long, long time! Truly, you need to retract or reword what you just wrote, if you are to have any credibility among Christians. You seem to have missed the point entirely that the attention-grabbing caption of Leila's post effectively spawns instant hope in the hearts of many long suffering women/wives, and that that in itself is already the first crucial step to the recovery of their situations! I pray you'll have a better day tomorrow than you possibly had today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Francis,

      Glad you got the point. I didn't, obviously.

      I don't agree that an attention grabbing headline that doesn't deliver what it promised is appropriate. "Instant hope" is not "a crucial step in recovery of bad situations." That's a rather fuzzy use of language.

      But if you and others understand each other when you communicate that way, that's fine.

      It's great that whatever those books say is helping people heal their marriages, and I mean it sincerely. No woman should ever denigrate her husband, even if he is a cad. Too wrongs don't make a right. However, I will never know what the books say the trick is. There's no pressing need; I no longer have a marriage to save since my husband is no longer alive.

      I do wish the author of this blog had summarized what the books say, since the title promised to tell how to turn things around in five minutes. And I would love to have the wisdom the title promised. I wouldn't have clicked through three pages and read a long blog if the title wasn't promising something it didn't deliver. But that's apparently just me. Truly there is no offense meant.

      Delete
  66. Come on, Leila. Read your first paragraph again and then tell me where you tell in this article how to start to save a marriage in five minutes. Then I'll apologize for being a party pooper. Yes, it is rude what you wrote about me and Mr. Sullivan and my not being any fun at parties, besides being irrelevant. I apologize for saying you recommend that people buy two books. Maybe I am a poor reader. But tell me this, however it is that your readers get the books, getting those books and reading them and then beginning to apply whatever wisdom the books contain is going to take them how long? FIve minutes?

    This isn't about me, or what I write, is it? Except it is about my disappointment at having to click through multiple web pages to find this one and then to have to read a long post and still not know what you are talking about at the end. What exactly will begin to save people's marriages in five minutes?

    I hesitate to tell you about what I write because I sense that your question is a way that you will try to get leverage to attack me instead of addressing what I wrote. Forgive me if I'm wrong. And forgive me for offending you.

    Just be careful with words. To use them improperly is to violate a trust that readers need to have in the writers they read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How ironic that you tell Leila to be care how she uses words, Roseanne. You also used them improperly and violated the trust between a writer and the reader. No one is going to respond charitably (unless they're a true saint!) when spoken to with such disrespect and rudeness! If you didn't like her post, fine. Being a writer, I am assuming you have the words to tell her with more charity than what you did.

      I thought under the circumstances that Leila responded to you very nicely. Big deal,she called you a party pooper. And I'm sorry about your husband, but it doesn't give you the right to use your bitterness as a way of attacking people.

      We're all friends of Leila here, and we've all got her back. If you don't like it, you're free to read elsewhere.

      Delete
  67. At the time I wrote the above comment, I hadn't seen your 3rd reply to my comment. So read what I wrote in my 2nd comment with that in mind. And if you don't like anything I wrote, you can delete it. Sorry that I was rude.

    Have you ever clicked on a link that promised to tell you something, and then read through a large set of slides that didn't tell you what was promised, but tried to sell you a book instead? That's the feeling I got after reading what you wrote. Take my reaction or leave it. You apparently have a lot of readers that love what you wrote, and God bless you and them.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Roseanne, the five minutes refers to reading the first chapter. It is a short chapter! And Leila already pointed out that it is transformative for many women. As one who has actually read most of the book now, just reading the first chapter can change the reader's mindset dramatically and immediately have impact on a suffering marriage.

    After reading only a little of the book or even just this post, five minutes can also refer to the five minutes it takes to do a little self evaluation, or to think of all the things you love about your husband instead of the things that upset you, or to think of compliments for your husband along with the mere seconds it takes to offer that compliment to him, or to do something a little special for him. Those things produce immediate results in people. You can interpret the five minutes in many ways. Starting the journey is really the catalyst. Reading the book takes little time (an evening or two). Implementing personal changes really amounts to lots of little five-minute increments of effort over the course of our lives.

    I'm sorry if you wanted something more direct -- I suppose Leila could have just listed suggestions, but reading the book is a tad more complete than a list. Writing isn't always so direct, though :). Typing over a newborn here, so I apologize for typos and errors!

    ReplyDelete
  69. I intend to read this book - thank you. Please pray for our marriage. I know God is with me and hears my prayers that our marriage will be transformed into one that brings Him glory and sets a good example for our beautiful (now 4-yr-old) son. I wonder...is there is a marriage retreat you would recommend in Northern California? There is SO much built up junk in our marriage (resentment from not feeling loved, no trust, no intimacy) that I feel we both desperately need a "timeout" from marriage counseling that seems so ineffective. I'm exhausted.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Thanks, Roseanne. I am sorry that you feel duped and cheated. I will refund the money you spent on clicking a blog link. ;)

    If you read the words of the first woman I quoted, I think she bears up my contention. And judging from the response to Dr. Laura's first book (which she lays out in the second book), myriad others reacted the same way (immediate turnaround). I have been quite heartened by the responses I've received, especially the private ones (which I obviously will not share, but marriages are already changing). If I risk irking a few folks by my excitement and, yes, conviction about my thesis here, then so be it. I am absolutely thrilled if even one marriage is saved because of what I believe to be true: That reading just the first few pages of the first chapter of either book will initiate a paradigm shift. I stand by it.

    Many blessings.

    And Francis, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Elizabeth, thank you!

    And INeedJesusMoreandMore, I am so sorry for your pain. Yes, please do read the books. All of that "stuff" can truly be put in perspective and not destroy your marriage or your love, just by a change in your view. I do think it's like scales falling from our eyes, and we women have so much power to change the tone and tenor of our marriages. Men are NOT "relationship experts" like women are, and so they are often at our mercy. That's why when people get upset and say "why do women have to be the ones to change?!" they miss the point that it's because we hold most of the power to change things! Men are simple creatures. They are the first to admit it. So yes, please do read. Your library has a copy, I am sure.

    As for retreats, try Retrovaille. Those are the retreats for folks who really are at their wits' end. Even for those who are close to divorce and feel hopeless. I have heard great things about Retrovaille. I think you can just google them and find one in your area.

    I will pray for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much - and Wow! It's as if you read my mind as I was just feeling sorry for myself as to why it seems women have to be the ones to change. I'm giving you a big hug in gratitude for all you are doing to help save marriages. I keep telling myself to keep thinking: "Less of me and more of You (Jesus)" to keep me going forward. I also read these words from Jesus from a devotional book called "God Calling" and wanted to share it as it really touched me yesterday to the point of making me cry: "Remember your great field of labour is yourself. That is your first task, the weeding, the planting, digging, pruning, bearing fruit. When that is done, I (Jesus) lead you out into other fields."

      Delete
  72. Roseanne, I am sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.

    And, there is no way to "summarize" what the book says in a blog post, unless I were to cut and paste those chapters, and the interactions and conversations between Dr. Laura and her callers and those who write her. One really has to get involved in the conversations to have the lightbulb go off and "see" what it is that we women tend to do.

    What an absolutely tedious thing it would have been for readers if I had simply cut and pasted those conversations and her commentary here (not to mention illegal or unethical?). If you want to see more, you can surely go to Amazon and click through the book, or read the reviews. Frankly, I believe it was best to point women directly to the source. That is what this blog post did. I can't do what Dr. Laura did and I was not going to try. But I thought the testimonials of women I know who did get something out of the book would make it more likely that people would seek out those books that could change everything. From the feedback, I think I was correct.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Most Catholics know that St Augustine owed his conversion to graces received through many years of intercession by his mother St Monica. What's less well known is that Monica had been given in marriage to a pagan, who had a very bad temper. Every time he had an outburst, she would refrain from reacting in like manner, retiring instead to pray ever more ardently for his conversion. Finally, one year before he died, he had a conversion of heart and was baptized a Catholic. (Then she intensified her storming of heaven for her wayward son - and the rest is history! :))

    Here's a prayer to St Monica for women whose husbands need to change:

    Dear St. Monica, troubled wife and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet, you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine; your prayers were answered.

    Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (mention request here...) and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Thank you Francis Choudhury for the Prayer to St. Monica. I will pray it. Good night and may God bless us all abundantly.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Good night, my sister in Christ! Let me know how it goes… littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  76. Greg,

    In the hope that it might help, here's a little of my life story, involving a girl, who, as a young man, I daresay I loved more than life itself. (I know, every young man says that, but I know of no other words to get across the depth of what I felt for this girl). Anyway, circumstances (and her parents) engineered her marriage to another man, to my utter and total devastation. For years, and years - and years - I lived with a pain that was often so palpable you could reach out and touch it. And for years and years I went quite berserk trying to cope with it. If that wasn't bad enough, the girl's marriage turned out to be an unmitigated disaster, thanks to the repeated unfaithfulness of her husband. So who do you think she eventually turned to for support in her darkness? Why, her old faithful childhood friend Francis, of course, uncontrollable tears flowing down her gentle, beautiful face! And who do you think she proposed to marry (after divorcing her husband)? Yes, you guessed that right as well. Talk about a Catholic on a rack, being pulled apart, right down his middle, between his God and his most beloved love on the earth!

    God, thankfully, won out. But oh, how I had to pray. How many days and nights saw me on my knees, asking for strength, begging for my earthly love to die, for my human emotions to be taken away! But no, it never did happen. And it was then that I understood that this was to be my personalized cross, for the rest of my days.

    But here's the nice part. One day as I prayed, I "saw" a woman next to Jesus. And He quietly "said" to me, "See, Francis, see this beautiful woman by my side? She's my Mother!(with a Divine wink and smile)" That was all. But it was enough. It was at that moment that I discovered the most fulfilling, consoling and reliable female love in my life. That's when this incredibly beautiful woman started to become real to me, the Woman whose arms I flee to whenever the old pangs of longing threaten to overwhelm my heart or unsettle me again. It works! If you haven't done so already, give it a try! She's your most loving, gentle and understanding Mother, and your real Queen of Peace too! Talk to her. Tell her of your pain. She will respond. I promise. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Francis, this is incredibly painful and beautiful! I never knew… I am just blown away, and thank you for sharing this, my inspirational brother in Christ!

      Delete
    2. Thanks Francis, I appreciate that. Prayer is becoming a great help, but I still have a hard time bringing the pain out.

      God bless you

      Delete
  77. Dear Roseanne: Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

    I'm curious, are you this hypercritical about everything you read on the Internet? My goodness, that must be exhausting. Try a hot bath and a glass of wine - that always helps me relax.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I just found the title annoying. But apparently that's just me. And rest of this blogger's work is lovely. Thanks for the tip, but I don't get anything out of drinking alone.

      This morning I would have deleted my comments, but can't find the delete button.

      Delete
  78. However, I will never know what the books say the trick is.

    Roseanne, just one more attempt to clarify the misunderstanding you had: There is no "trick" or technique that one learns from the book, but rather it's something one recognizes about oneself in relationship to one's husband. It's a recognition -- within minutes. Not a technique. So it's not something I can put in a blog post. Hope that helps. And again, I apologize for my initial rudeness to you. That was uncalled for and I am sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Roseanne,

    Following links from your Blogger profile, I found and read with interest a couple of the articles you've written. You certainly are a writer of substance, with carefully-researched, in-depth and logically-presented submissions (we love logic and reason in the Bubble!) on many contemporary subjects of importance. So I do hope you consider being a regular commenter here. I'm sure many of us would enjoy your participation in our conversations and benefit from it. As I'm also sure you'd make many like minded friends here, starting with our captain, Leila! :) Where are your most recent writings to be found (online)?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Nice post, Leila. I only have a light-hearted comment to offer - readers feel free to ignore.

    I love guys - having grown up around a slew of them. Best practical things I learned and apply: Compliment, compliment, compliment the hubs. Genuinely. It's his gasoline. Be his bud. Do something next to him instead of harp at him. Take up a sport or exercise with him. Work on a repair around the house with him. Thank him for the small stuff. Be a goofball. Try not to take everyday mundane tasks with the kids so seriously. Text him out of the blue with an I luv u, or a, Hey, good lookin' or a, Thx 4 being so good to us/me. Bring him home a small surprise while ur out shopping. Little things go a long way, imo.

    They internalize much more than we think, but they won't react like we women do. Doesn't mean it's lost on them. We women have the power to make or break with our words and actions. Just try loving him for who he is, instead of resenting him for who he is not.

    This wasn't meant to sound like a flaky suggestion list, but it turned into that. Anyhow, my prayers are with all who feel at a loss.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Nubby,

    Lighthearted or no, you've hit the nail(s) on the head!

    Now, to return one bunch of hilarious wisdom for another, here's a video you just have to watch, if you haven't seen it already:

    A Tale of Two Brains

    Chris Sawaya, if you're reading, this'll be right up your street too!

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  82. I've gotten great private feedback so far, but here is a public one! She got the book on Kindle and look what happened:

    http://callmemama.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/a-kick-in-the-pants/

    ReplyDelete
  83. Leila, would you recommend one over the other for a 30-something gal who has been married 8 years to a great guy, and all appears to be really good in that marriage? That is my daughter, but I remember well that books like this can help us make corrections before things become a problem! I just wondered if you think one book or the other might be better.

    ReplyDelete
  84. iamlori, I think I would suggest Proper Care and Feeding first in that case. It's a straight up book, whereas the other is a book/workbook. Both would be fine, truly, but that might be the best way for your daughter, to read the first one. It will be good for her, even in a good marriage! That's the thing that is so great about these books. :)

    ReplyDelete
  85. Nubby, last comment....bingo.
    Francis, the two brains thing is awesome and your personal story is just ....something else.
    You guys are all fabulous

    ReplyDelete
  86. Excellent post! Leila always has a ton of wisdom. I read "For Better Forever" by Gergory Popcak several years ago and thought it was great. I read it mainly as a reaction to the fact a couple I knew told us they were getting divorced (after 2 years of marriage) and it really shook me up.

    The first chapter alone was awesome because he talks about what makes a Catholic marriage and what "Being Christ to one another" means. I read it and thought "This is what Father was trying to say during our Pre Cana! He should've just given us this to read!" It can be cheesy at times but I thought it was helpful. It was nice to have a book talking about marriage in terms of being a partner and a team instead of "Am I happy?"

    One of the things I really wish our society would get past is making the household chores a power-struggle. I made an off-hand comment at a family visit that I take care of my husband's laundry (for a lot of reasons- but mainly because it makes his life easier and I love him.) My sister-in-law stopped me mid-story to say "WHOA, YOU do your HUSBAND'S LAUNDRY?????" and then proceeded to act as though I had single-handily destroyed womanhood's only hope for equality and respect.

    The messed up thing was....it bothered me. I started thinking all sort of crazy thoughts. Is my husband going to lose respect for me if I do this? He doesn't now, but what about 15 years? Is he going to think of me as a maid and take me for granted? Women talk about that happening all the time. blah blah blah.

    I finally decided not doing a chore now because he MIGHT in the future take me for granted was silly. So guys: there's some insight to how crazy women can make themselves. :-) In my defense, I came to that conclusion pretty quick....like before the next load of laundry needed to be done.

    ReplyDelete
  87. I really didn't want to post this but I can't get to sleep and really feel like I should.

    For the men out there who are upset and worn down by how your wives speak to you. At least you can take comfort in the fact they feel secure and probably always have. As someone who has grown up with a physically abusive family member I can promise you no woman who has ever spent a lot of years on the wrong side of a man's strength could ever speak that way.

    I watch women insult, yelled, and rip down their men in public, and in front of co-workers or friends and I think "How dumb is she? Doesn't she know he can kill her with his bear hands and the only thing stopping him is the fact he is a good person? Eventually she might run through that good will and he'll just snap."

    It has taken me a long time to learn that is not a normal reaction to observing such a conversation.

    I'm not really sure why I am sharing this because I really don't want to. But I guess my point is sometimes when you react as a loving spouse even when your spouse isn't loving it may be a wonderful example for someone who really needs to see it.

    Okay, I am going to go disappear now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May God bless and keep you and your husband and your entire family, Kat.

      Delete
  88. I have never read the books in your post, but they sound excellent. May I also add the following, which are from a Catholic perspective and helped my own marriage greatly: Holy Sex! by Greg Popcak, which boils TOB down into layman's terms and demonstrates how to live it in daily life; and Heaven's Song by Christopher West. I also recommend The 5 Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman, which made a huge difference in how we treated each other. Part of the problem in a lackluster marriage is that the spouses may not feel loved. Once their spouse learns what their love language is, they can relate to them in a way that helps them to feel loved. When we feel love, it is easier to be loving toward our spouse. For example, my husband's secondary love language is 'words of affirmation,' so I text him daily with small encouragements. My love language is 'acts of service,' so he makes sure he does little things for me, like making my tea in the morning, or cleaning up after dinner in the evening, or cooking for me every Sunday. I highly recommend this book!

    ReplyDelete
  89. Proper Care has helped our marriage so much!!! It's easy to feel selfish every once in a while and start feeling resentment. I then have to humble myself and remember what Dr. Laura says in the book. It works every time.

    ReplyDelete
  90. I have been married for over 3 decades. We now have an empty nest. My husband is a decent man. He does not ask much from life--plenty of food, scotch, sports, and his family. He goes to Mass on Sundays. But he does not talk much --to me at least. And has not really since the beginning. It used to bother me a lot but I have just accepted it. When I would try to speak of serious things, he would just lift up my skirt or something; he would not respond to what I wished to convey. He has let me make all important decisions; he does not like to make decisions.

    Since the children grew up and left what is most difficult is that daily sexual commentaries and badgering. I hate it. There has, in the past, his use of porn. I do not think that is happening now. But the daily comments! That part of our marriage is pure sacrifice for me. And we do not do much together any more; he will not even accompany me on my daily walks with the dog but watches incredibly inane TV instead.

    I feel most like myself and free when I am not with him. Isn't that terrible? I feel guilty but the daily comments and suggestions leave me so cold. We are married until death do us part but it is an endurance.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Magdalene, that is so sad. I am sorry. It sounds like your marriage is making you into a saint but just not in the way you had hoped it would be. :(

    ReplyDelete
  92. Thank you for linking that post Francis. It was the perfect post for me to read today!

    ReplyDelete

  93. Me and my boyfriend were seriously in love for six years and we were planning to get married but one day he came to my house and told me he was no longer interested in our relationship simply because he was dating another lady who promise to buy him a car and to sponsor their wedding. And i was heart broken. So i take a bold step by contacting a spell caster who will help me bring my ex boyfriend back and in three day after i contacted him my boy friend who left me for another girl came back and start begging to take him back. Dr. Book is powerful and great his contact is drshalorspelltemple@gmail.com you can also contact him for help...........sandra kons from russia

    ReplyDelete
  94. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  95. I just found this website and plan on ordering the book as soon as I am done typing this post. I have been married to a wonderful Catholic man for 15 yrs, together for 18. I truly believe God has a plan for us, but my husband doesn't seem to feel he needs to tend to our marriage. I have now become a nagger, trying to get him to address the issues that we have. I feel we are two people standing on either side of a sound-proof glass window. We can both see we are talking(me more than him), but neither can hear the other. I have grown a lot in the last 2 years in prayer and understanding many of the problems that I have caused, but I can't get him to talk to me about anything and I can't get him to pray with me. I am very cautiously optimistic that this book may give me more answers to help save and create the marriage that God intended. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  96. I just finished the book from Dr. Laura. and what an eye opener. I am already seeing a difference in the household since I changed how I look at things. Thank you for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete
  97. Best advice I've ever got for my marriage!! After only three years of being married we have already done some counseling, which didn't help at all, I was thinking about divorce and how to justify it. And here, after reading just about 5 minutes of the Proper care book, I finally realized it is not my husband who is making my life miserable. It is me! I am in love with him more than ever today. I praise the Lord that He heard my prayers and pointed me to your blog and thank you for this book recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  98. After a blow up last, where my husband was absolutely was right, I sat down to my time of prayer this morning and looking for inspiration typed "for the Catholic woman who criticizes her husband" will definitely be picking up these book. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  99. Annie, this is so wonderful! I hope you will email me and tell me how things are going! I will be praying for you!!

    ReplyDelete

PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest. We often have meaty and long discussions -- trust me, they're worth following!