10 Products for Radiant Wedding-Day Makeup

NICOLE CARUSO

 

To me, makeup is an accessory. It highlights the God-given beauty of each face, and each of us have different features that we love to “dress up”, whether that be our skin, eyes, brows, or smile. That is why I have loved teaching women how to apply natural-looking makeup for over a decade as a makeup artist and beauty consultant. Though some use makeup as a way to mask or change their features, there are a few techniques and products that enhance rather than hide. A few minute check-in in the mirror before starting the day can boost self-confidence, even if it’s just a little mascara, concealer, and lipstick.

Makeup for special events isn’t the same as makeup for everyday. There are a few tricks and types of products that ensure it will last from morning to night, and even look flawless in photos.

I have a list of 10 tips to use to make your makeup look professionally done, even if you do it yourself.

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Clean skin makes an even canvas.

Before applying your makeup, use a cotton pad to wipe a micellar water (something without alcohol) over your bare skin. This will remove any residue from soap and leftover makeup to make your skin look much more even and bright.

Always moisturize!

Moisturizer is a necessary part of getting foundation to look most like skin, and not like a mask of color. Test a few before your wedding day to see which one looks best under your foundation. If it balls up as your foundation goes on, it could be too heavy--something to save for a nighttime regime.

On the other hand, if your foundation goes on looking chalky, your moisturizer isn’t doing its job to plump the skin. Supple, hydrated skin allows the makeup to look most natural. Allow your moisturizer to set for a few minutes before the next step.

Primer is the glue.

If you struggle with getting your complexion products to last all day, you probably need a primer. Primer creates a barrier between moisturizer and foundation. It smoothes uneven texture and has an almost magnetic effect on foundation, allowing it to last an entire day without caking, creasing, or rubbing off.

 Liquid foundation, not powder.

One mistake I often see in bridal and special event makeup is the use of too much powder. Mineral powder and powder-based foundations are excellent for day to day use, though they look best on oily skin types because they mattify naturally. Liquid foundation slides onto a primed, moisturized face and blends effortlessly into skin. It is the most forgiving formula to use, especially when you apply it in the middle of the face first and blend outwards as you go. Always match foundation to your jawline so it blends seamlessly.

Matte bronzer adds warmth, not shimmer.

For photography, it’s important to keep products with shimmer or iridescence on the eyes, lips, or cheekbones so it catches light in the right way. I always recommend a matte bronzer because it warms up the skin gently, and doesn’t make the face look like a disco ball in photos.

Warmth needs to be added back into the skin after applying foundation to bring natural dimension back to the face. I like to apply it with a fluffy brush to the hairline, tops of the cheeks sweeping toward the ear, and lightly on the bridge of the nose. It ends up looking sun-kissed and glowy without sparkle.

Finely-milled setting powder prevents shine.

A finely-milled setting powder is absolutely key for setting makeup, preventing oil patches, and locking all your hard work in. Look for powders that say triple-milled, and apply them with a small fluffy brush in a patting motion. A cheaper powder that is not triple-milled will immediately look heavy, as if it is sitting on top of the skin, similar to the texture of chalk. And finally, if you rub the powder brush over the skin rather than tap it gently, you risk pushing the products around, which may result in the makeup looking patchy, creating discoloration and unevenness.

Create a base for eyeshadow with longwear products.

A longwear base, whether a cream shadow or eyelid primer, works the same way as a face primer. It gives eyeshadow something to cling to and prevents creasing. If you apply primer, then shadow, then liner, and waterproof mascara, your eye look will last all day.

Tame the brows.

Whether your brows are full or thin, brow gel is going to set the hairs in place and add texture to make them look 3D, rather than flat or painted-on. I like to backcomb the brows, rubbing the application brush from tail toward the nose, and then brush the hairs up to frame the face and lift the eyes.

Some of these products can flake after a few hours, so be sure to test a few before your big day.

Skip glossy and super matte lips.

Look for a lip product with a satin finish, meaning it is comfortable to wear, but gives an opaque color to the lips, and shouldn’t transfer heavily onto anyone you kiss. This kind of lip is perfect for photographing both indoors and outdoors, because it has just a hint of shine and won’t crack or dry the lips out.

 Waterproof mascara is a must.

Rather than risking a black smudge across your face--which can easily happen from tears, humidity, or rain--use a waterproof formula that won’t flake or run. From drugstore to department store, many brands make reputable waterproof formulas, but once again, give them a go before the big day. Maybe even watch your favorite tear-jerker movie as a test.

 Whether you’re a beauty junkie or are trying this on your own for the first time, these products will help you get the best result. Think of your makeup as an accessory, just like a beautiful shoe or necklace, and let it enhance--not overshadow--your natural beauty.

Images by Meaghan Clare Photography, seen in How to Do Your Own Bridal Makeup | Video Tutorial


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About the Author: Nicole M. Caruso is a wife, mother, makeup artist, and writer. She believes her mission is to inspire women to invest in their self-worth. Formerly the Beauty Editor of Verily Magazine, Nicole now shares her expert style and beauty advice, tips on healthy living, and reflections on marriage and motherhood on her website. The New York native now resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and daughter.

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The Feast of St. Joseph | A Fellow Human, A Saintly Spouse

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph: foster father of Jesus, spouse of Mary and head of the holy family. He was a carpenter, he was a man.

When we look to Joseph, we see a man who surrendered himself to the direction from an angel in his dreams. We read how he obeyed the command of God, loved and served Mary as his chaste spouse, and raised Jesus, the son of God, as his own earthly son.

Have you ever imagined when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the caravan, only to find him days later, preaching to adult men in the temple? My heart goes out to Joseph. The parameters of his mission were simple: love, protect, and guide Jesus and Mary. All in all, through obedience and grace, Joseph fulfilled his calling. But in this experience of losing Jesus and consoling Mary, I imagine Joseph was tempted to worry and despair.

Years later, Joseph died when Jesus was 30-years-old, on the brink of his public ministry. I picture Joseph lying on his deathbed, preparing to part from his earthly life. Joseph must have felt both sorrow and joy as he left his family with anticipation for his son’s powerful mission. I imagine the deep sadness of Jesus and Mary who said goodbye to their beloved.

Reflecting on the stories of Joseph bring his humble holiness to a human reality.

As we gaze at Joseph in statues and paintings, recall stories of him in Scripture or reach out to him in prayer, we encounter a friend. He is so approachable; a human man who intimately encountered the divine every day. This man who we rightfully honor with holy veneration was conceived with original sin. He was as human as me and you.

In the vocation to married life, we are sacramentally offered good and holy gifts such as intimacy, vulnerability, and companionship. Receiving and living out these gifts can often send individuals and couples to the heights of love, or can expose a raw wound of human brokenness. Perhaps in a moment of insecurity we believe, “I am not enough.” In the midst of an argument we fear abandonment. In prolonged frustration and anxiety, we despair and lose trust in God’s providence.

It may be easy to admire an icon of Joseph, Mary and Jesus and assume the immense joy in their family life. Amidst the celebration of such pure trinitarian love of the family, I hope against hope that there were days Joseph wished he could love Mary better. Or days when he was disappointed by how he received Mary’s perfect love. Joseph’s imperfections are the only stains of sin in the holy family, yet his entire being—holiness and imperfection combined—was destined for his specific vocation.

Through both his human imperfection and pure intention, God empowered Joseph to love Mary, show Jesus about the love between a husband and a wife, and receive love from his family. In the same way, we are each called to be fully present with God in our unique vocation, to love with virtue despite our own shortcomings.

God has so carefully woven two lives together in your marriage. On the days when your sinful, selfish, or short-sighted human nature is too much to bear, remember goodwill and purity of heart are enough for love. In striving to love and be loved, moments which expose brokenness do not define a limit for love. Rater, these moments help us identify where grace and mercy can provide healing. Joseph’s example offers peace and encouragement to every person, for our hearts to become a channel for God’s love to shine through.

St. Therese of Lisieux offers encouragement to little souls, to those who recognize their long journey to perfection, “Agree to stumble at every step therefore, even to fall, to carry your cross weakly, to love your helplessness. Your soul will draw more profit from it than if, carried by grace, you would accomplish with enthusiasm heroic actions that would fill your soul with personal satisfaction and pride.”

You are human. Joseph was human. If he could fulfill his vocation to the Holy Family, you can fulfill your vocation in your own holy family. You were created for a mission exactly where you are. As you bring your completely human heart to God, you will grow—with an ever-deepening purity of heart—in the capacity to love and be loved.

St. Joseph, you sought to bring glory to God in every action and word. Together with your pure heart, Mary’s Immaculate heart, and Jesus’ Sacred heart, guide me to embrace my human imperfection with humility so that I may receive God’s mercy and grow ever more deeply into the virtue of my vocation. St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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What We Should Have Asked During Marriage Preparation

ADA PIMENTEL

 

Our first marriage prep meeting was in the deacon’s office of the large parish where we were to be married. As we sat facing his desk, we noticed the shelves facing us; they were filled with binders labeled ‘Annulments A-Ba,’ ‘Annulments Ba-Ce,’ ‘Annulments Ce-Di,’ and so on. As we stared at the bewildering number of annulment binders, the deacon informed us that, as twenty-somethings, the odds are against us: statistics show married people in our age bracket are more likely to end up divorced.

We left our first meeting discouraged, our second underwhelmed, and our pre-Cana retreat scared. We desired to make our marriage preparation worthwhile, but all of the support offered by our diocese and parish left us feeling more lost and confused than ever.  As an engaged person, it is often difficult to find the all-encompassing resources to feel spiritually prepared for marriage.

If you are already married and feel as though your marriage preparation was lacking, there are resources available for married couples. You can still seek a deeper understanding of this wonderful sacrament.

Although our diocesan-level preparation lacked convicting formation, we did not  advocate for stronger pre-cana support for ourselves because we did not know what questions to ask. After reflecting on these shortcomings over the past year, here are some of the questions I wish I had asked in the deacon’s office.

What have been the best ways that you have seen couples prepare for marriage?

Maybe the Pre-Cana retreat in your diocese is not up to scratch, but your parish may have an excellent sponsor couple program. Working with a mentor couple who has many years of experience in marriage and marriage preparation can provide trusting relationships and additional ideas during your engagement.  Ask around to friends and family as they may have recommendations as well.

What resources are available to us?

Little did we know, there is a fantastic office full of Catholic marriage counselors down the road from our parish. We never heard about these services while we were preparing for the sacrament of matrimony, probably because we never asked. Every diocese has its own resources, and there are many more online. The right resources are often hard to find, but the first step is to ask the right people in your community.

What books can you recommend?

Ask your married friends for helpful books from their engagement. Ask priests or religious sisters for books to deepen your understanding and knowledge of the sacrament of matrimony. Consult blogs and articles for recommended readings. With your beloved, consider the options and discern which resources you want to dive into together. Even if there are not many formal resources available in your area, you can form a self-guided  marriage prep course with the help of a good reading list.

Are there any ministries geared toward people who are already married?

Marriage preparation is only one part of the equation. Marriage is not an easy vocation; husbands and wives need all the support they can get in a world that consistently tears down the call to marriage and family life. Are there any groups in your parish or in your diocese which can connect you with others trying to live the vocation of marriage?

There are many resources to help you prepare for your lifelong marriage, and many people who aspire to share their wisdom--and your excitement--in your preparations. Do not be afraid to ask for the things you need, both in your desires for more and in the midst of a struggle. As Matthew 7:7 reminds us, “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.”


About the Author: Ada Pimentel studied English at the University of Dallas and currently teaches elementary school. She married her college best friend in November 2017. When she is not teaching, Ada can be found contemplating classical education, redecorating her apartment for the hundredth time, and reading British novels.

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How My Running Shoes Prepared Me for Marriage

JOHNNA WILFORD

 

I got married on October 6, 2018. A year before that, my husband and I I had been dating a little over a year. And a year before that, I was living by myself in Los Angeles, recently dumped by someone I thought was (finally) a good guy for me. And I wasn’t Catholic. 

How quickly things can change.

It took a lot of personal growth and therapy for me to make the transition from a clingy, single Episcopal girl to a confident, engaged Catholic woman. However, I truly believe the thing that prepared me the most for coming home to the Church--and to my marriage--was running.

Running eased my anxiety. It led me to the Catholic Church. Ever since I became engaged I’ve desired to express the ways my running habit taught me how to be in a healthy, adult relationship.

Below, quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s explanation of the sacrament of marriage, and how they relate to my running life.

God himself is the author of marriage (1603).

 Like anything else, my marriage starts with God. At the time I was dumped by the guy I was dating in Los Angeles, I was training for my first full marathon. The date of that race was February 14th--Valentine’s Day. I don’t think this was a coincidence.

 In my training, I learned exactly how strong I was physically and mentally. At the same time, I was learning to remember I deserved love. Not despite the fact that I was single. But because I was created by God, who knew me intimately and wanted the best for me.

This combination of a spiritual revelation with my physical accomplishment made the race day even more special. It was like I was spending Valentine’s Day with God; the support and encouragement from all of my friends that came to cheer me on during the race was directly from Him.

Marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one's own pleasure (1609).

I think running creates saints in the same way marriage does. While training for my marathon, there were many times I had to say no to going out late with friends to prepare for an early-morning long run the next day. Going out was a short-term pleasure, while doing well in my race was a long-term one. Sometimes it’s necessary to forgo one for the other.

Running really helped me distinguish between earthly and heavenly pleasure, a distinction I can now apply to my marriage.

When, for example, my husband is coming home from a work trip on a Saturday at midnight and I need to pick him up from the airport, I get grumpy about the obligation--especially since we’ll need to wake up early for Mass the next day. But I want to be a good person in general by helping out someone in need. I want to show my husband my love by picking him up myself, instead of asking someone else to do it. And I want to experience Jesus in the Eucharist the next day, even though I may be bleary-eyed and would sort of rather be sleeping in.

Though that’s a small example, and though it’s always a struggle to get myself out the door for a run when I would rather be binge-watching something, I think being a regular runner ensures that I experience this rejection of my ego constantly.

Marriage helps to…open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving (1609).

 Before I started learning more about the Catholic Church, I was a little hostile to some of her teachings.

No sex before marriage? I can understand that for one-night stands. But what if you’re in a committed relationship?

No artificial birth control? Puh-lease. I want kids, but I don’t want dozens of them!

 Running gave me the necessary understanding to dive deeper into these teachings once I was open to doing so. My husband and I had engaged in premarital sex, but once I realized sex was a beautiful way of engaging in the marital sacrament, we stopped. We weren’t even engaged yet--and it would be almost a year and a half until we were--but we knew why it was important.

It wasn’t easy, of course. But neither is running 26.2 miles, or climbing a couple of feet off the ground with nothing but a tiny rope (my husband’s favorite form of exercise is rock climbing).

And since we both could do that, we knew we could save sex for marriage, whether it was ultimately with each other or not. 

As for the artificial birth control issue, I am forever grateful to the Church for offering Natural Family Planning. I took up running because I wanted to be the healthiest version of myself I could be. The sport taught me to pay close attention to my body and discern what was normal, and what needed to be addressed through self-care or the help of a professional.

So it was easy to translate that mentality into tracking my fertility once I learned about NFP. I wasn’t even engaged when I started using the sympto-thermal method, but it was so useful for me even without the prospect of marriage. I am now in the process of becoming a sympto-thermal teacher myself, since I hope to teach single women in particular that fertility awareness can point out health issues long before marriage is even on the horizon.

 Whether you’re single, engaged, or married, I encourage you to try running. It’s a great way of learning more about the virtues Jesus and all of the saints modeled for us. And I believe it cultivates a mindset that will help your marriage flourish.


About the Author: Johnna Wilford helps women design health and wellness routines that fit into their lives. She is a RRCA-certified running coach, a POP Pilates instructor, and a SymptoPro Fertility Educator in-training. She is also the Co-Founder of the online community Catholic Women Run.

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The Confidence of a Covenant

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

As husband and wife come together as one body in the profession of marriage vows, man and woman are united through covenant. Though it is not only their participation in the sacrament which binds them ‘till death, but God’s active presence as the third member of the triune union. This truth of trinitarian love can become a source of confident peace “in good times and in bad.”

God desires to fill our minds and hearts with faith, hope and love. In our human experience, we are often tempted to despair. I invite you to reflect on the triggers which test your resilience against fear or doubt in your vocation. When we collaborate with God, he promises to give strength to our weakness and drive out fear through the grace of the sacrament.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   AVENUE CREATIVE

PHOTOGRAPHY: AVENUE CREATIVE

The deep intimacy of marriage and call for ongoing transformation is an experience of vulnerability and exposure. This vulnerability has the potential to reflect beauty itself, imaging the original nakedness and shamelessness of the human heart in God’s perfect design—before the fall to sin. Yet for some, myself included, the raw exposure of body, heart, and soul can initiate feelings of self-doubt, lack of trust, or worry for the future.

We are only human; we are not immune to fear.

Fear can take many forms in our lives, such as tension, defensiveness and a short-temper towards others, or apathy and hopelessness towards important matters. Whatever its form, fear affects our relationships.

In my own experiences, I can internalize my emotions, over-analyze circumstances, and seek means to gain control. Fear also materializes in the form of a question, a litany of asking, “what if?,” in times when God is calling me to surrender and trust his providence.

Any number of circumstances can provoke personal discord, such as separation over a distance, challenges with fertility, conflict involving extended family, financial burdens and professional stress. This list is nowhere near comprehensive of the challenges in family life. Yet no conflict or origin of fear is too big or too ugly for God to redeem, especially through the unbreakable bond of covenant.

Despite our brokenness, here is the source of unfailing, sanctifying hope: the sacrament of Matrimony is indefinitely bound to the gift of grace. “Christ dwells with [married couples], gives them strength to take up their crosses and to follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,” and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.”

He pours out his love to us and through us. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ created an unbreakable promise of love from God to his children. The vocation to married life is an invitation for us to participate—with God and our spouse—in this promise. Our responsibility is, simply, to remain in him.

When our value, security or identity is threatened by fear, the courageous Christian response is love. 1 John tell us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” We do not acquire this perfect love through our own effort. Rather, we remember “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us.”

If we honestly identify our source of fear—as an individual or as a couple—and share it with God in prayer, he can begin to restore our hearts and our lives. We eventually break free from the chains of fear, love others in greater abundance, and receive love without hesitation or doubt. In essence, we fulfill our human design to love and be loved. We catch a glimpse of sanctification in our marriage, family, and community.

“Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy… It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and life with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.”

Marriage is a party of three: man, woman, and God. Through our wedding vows, we are infinitely bound to both our spouse and our Creator. In seasons of sorrow or despair, courageously choose love. Enter more deeply into raw intimacy with trust. Enter more honestly into prayer with hope. When temptation to fear abounds, we are invited to stand with confidence upon our unbreakable sacramental covenant, in union with the presence of God, and anticipate the fulfillment of perfect love.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Newlywed Challenge | 3 Simple Ways to Reduce Screens in Your New Marriage

MARIAH MAZA

 

True confession: I love my screens. I love my phone that allows me to stay in contact with friends and family, listen to all my favorite podcasts, and stream my Amazon Prime watchlist. I love my laptop, on which I complete most of my work and writing projects, both at home and away at the local library or coffee shop.

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But for all their wonderful uses, screens can also easily take up the majority of our attention--to the point that their bright and noisy distraction numbs us to a sad reality: the slow replacement of intimacy in a relationship with self-absorbed technology.

It is a problem that can spring up especially in the initial transition from the single life into a married home. Bad technological habits that previously affected only yourself can suddenly have a very apparent and negative effect on your spouse, the person you now see everyday and share a bed with each night.

In fact, this is exactly what happened to my husband and I. Very soon after the wedding, I began to notice little, unexpected things in our marriage that felt “off” because of the presence of a phone, laptop, or TV screen:

When we would talk to each other, eye contact wasn’t always being made because one of us would be on our phone as we spoke. After a while, I began to feel painfully unheard and unseen simply because of the lack of “eyeball time” in our conversations (which is what I started to call it).

Later when we went to bed, we would bring our phones with us out of habit, scrolling and watching videos while laying next to each other, but not interacting. I began to experience an unrest in my heart, like the sacred space of our “marriage bed” was being invaded by our screens.

It didn’t take long for me to begin to resent the crowding presence of technology in my relationship with my husband, because I desired a deeper intimacy that seemed to be blocked by YouTube videos and my overuse of Facebook. Bad habits needed to be broken, but it wouldn’t be an overnight process.

Breaking screen habits can be very difficult, but for engaged couples or newlyweds, there are simple ways to prevent or reduce the overuse of technology in your new marriage before it becomes a problem. And it doesn’t necessarily require a total screen detox. By having an honest and vulnerable conversation with your fiance or spouse, I challenge you to safeguard your intimacy by trying one (or all) of these three tips to achieve a healthy “digital minimalism” in your vocation.

Go without a TV for the first 6 months

Be bold! If you are gifted a nice flat screen for your wedding or already have a TV, keep it safely packed away in storage. If you don’t have one, don’t worry about buying one. Not for the first six months, anyway.

Now imagine the unique foundation you could build in your new marriage without a working TV in your home or apartment. What fun, creative traditions could you begin? Instead of binge-watching your favorite shows together, find entertaining board games at a nearby store or friend’s house that you can play together. Go on a drive and explore the local area. Find a tasty new recipe and cook dinner together. Read a favorite book out loud to each other. Dedicate certain hours to prayer as a couple.

While a cozy movie night on the couch can be a wonderful date idea, I challenge you to discover a life without TV, and let yourself be surprised by all the memories you may not otherwise have made. Does six months sound too long? Try it for one month, or even a week after you settle into your new life together.

No phone zones

This is a very important boundary to set in your married life, and one that I forgot to seriously consider.

Ask yourself where the distracting presence of a phone screen could most hinder or infringe on intimacy in your marriage, whether it be spiritual, emotional, or physical intimacy.

Some crucial “no phone zones” could be the bed, the dinner table, or car rides.

In these special places, both you and your beloved agree to set down or turn off your phones and allow the focus to be on each other. In these places communication, eye contact, and self-giving love can thrive without distraction. If you are like me and use your phone every night as an alarm, consider placing it on a nightstand--or even better--on a dresser further away so you can’t reach for it in the middle of the night.

Download app timers

Most people are completely unaware of how much time they actually spend on different applications on their phone, laptop, or tablet. Utilizing apps that keep track of how long you spend on time-sucking platforms like Instagram or Facebook can be a shocking wake-up call to the reality of screen overuse.

There are also apps that lock you out of your phone for a specified time or shut down specific applications after a timer goes off. Some of these include OFFTIME, Forest, App Off Timer, and AppDetox, but there are dozens more options available.

Download a few and see which work best. If you notice your screen time decreasing and the quality of your marriage increasing, you’re doing something right!

So much about newlywed life sets the foundation and habits for the rest of your marriage, and your first year together is a special time that won’t come again. With this in mind, strive to start off strong with an intentional focus on your intimacy that builds confidence, trust, and respect.

So talk about boundaries now, not later. Be honest about your bad screen habits, make a realistic plan, and agree to hold each other accountable. This is just one way to practice sacrifice for the good of your spouse, an element of marriage that will come up again and again and again.

When I learned how to sacrifice my phone time out of love for my husband (even though it felt small), the bigger sacrifices that inevitably came in marriage didn’t seem as intimidating. And by the grace of God, we started practicing healthier habits: time limits, putting the desires of the other first, intentional intimacy-building activities, and persistent prayer.

Now I cherish every moment of precious eye contact so much more, and I feel more seen, heard, and known. When I see my husband put down his phone to come over and ask me about my day, my heart fills with joy and gratitude. Our marriage has been put first, and a little victory has been won.

God tells us that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” With each little victory over distraction, we become more and more “one flesh.” Don’t let a screen come between your marriage and this amazing sacramental mystery. Enter joyfully into it with your beloved, and watch how the Lord blesses your union.


About the Author: Mariah Maza is Spoken Bride’s Features Editor. She is the co-founder of Joans in the Desert, a blog for bookish and creative Catholic women. Read more

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Ash Wednesday Reflection | Memento Mori + Marriage

MARIAH MAZA

 

Memento, homo quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

“Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19)

Ash Wednesday begins a period of deep internal reflection and penance. So as we walk into the dimly lit churches on the first day of Lent, let the solemn silence enter your spirit, and enter again with a vulnerable heart into the Paschal Mystery: the Passion, death, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Psalm 90:12)

The cross of ash we receive on our forehead is both an external sign of our sinful mortality and a reminder of the Divine death that was suffered for our salvation. An often-forgotten ancient spiritual penance comes to mind: the practice of memento mori, a Latin phrase that reminds us, especially in this season of Lent, to “remember your death.”

“Let us prepare ourselves for a good death, for eternity. Let us not lose our time in lukewarmness, in negligence, in our habitual infidelities,” admonishes St. John Vianney. And so, let us not remember our inevitable death with fear, but instead illuminated in the Christian hope of Eternal Life that awaits us beyond the threshold of our earthly lives.

In her devotional Remember Your Death, Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble reminds us “Jesus has defeated humanity’s greatest foe—permanent death in sin. All that remains for us to endure is bodily death. And Jesus has transformed even this fearsome reality into the doorway to heaven.”

“The Cross changes everything.”

Yes, let us remember death. Because “in whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” (Sirach 7:36). Because each numbered breath, starting today, is one more reminder to live, to hope, and to love.

And for those who are engaged, newlywed, or veteran married couples, allow the practice of memento mori to become something even more profound: as you prepare to become one flesh--or already live one in flesh with your spouse--remember the death of your beloved.

Remember your vows you will make, or have already made. Remember you vowed “until death do us part.” Remember that part of the sacramental vocation of marriage is to prepare your beloved for a saintly death. You are called to help each other to Heaven.

“Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Beginning today, with your fiancé or your spouse, help each other to carry your crosses as we walk the Way of the Cross with the Church. Whoever follows Christ will die with him, the God who didn’t even spare himself from the pain of death, but whoever follows Christ will also rise with him.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Memento mori.

Further reading: Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble’s first 20 pages of her new Lenten Devotional Remember Your Death.


About the Author: Mariah Maza is Spoken Bride’s Features Editor. She is the co-founder of Joans in the Desert, a blog for bookish and creative Catholic women. Read more

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