How to Find a Mentor Couple

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Many couples enter into marriages without a clear understanding of what this vocation should look like when lived well.

We need help to navigate this sacred call but many of us come from broken homes or lack examples from which to learn. For this reason, mentorship can benefit many engaged or newlywed couples.

A mentor couple acts as this example while also providing support and encouragement to couples as they pursue holiness in marriage.

Finding the right mentor couple may take some time and prayer but here are some tips to help you get started.

Find a couple living the life you hope to live

Every couple has an idea for how they envision their future together. What do you hope your life together will look like in 5 years? 10 years? What are some challenges you might face?

Given the unique marital pressures brought by certain lifestyles or careers (like military, missionary, or doctor) having a mentor couple who could understand and relate to the joys and challenges you’ll face can help you navigate the ups and downs.

Get involved in the communities you are (or would like to be a part of). Getting to know the other members will help narrow down potential mentors. 

Find a couple who loves like you hope to love

Can you think of a couple whose marriage inspires you to live and love well? Chances are, this couple probably has been married a bit longer than you and your significant other. 

While having friends in the same state in life is important, your mentors should have more experience in living out their vocation. 

That doesn’t mean your mentor couple needs to have 50+ years of marriage experience, but they need to have already walked where you’re walking to be able to provide you with their wisdom to help you on your way. 

Find a couple you both trust

Since they will share more intimate thoughts and prayers, mentees should trust their mentors. That means, both husband and wife should find it easy to confide in the couple chosen for mentorship.

Again, this may take time and may take a little bit of searching but this will ultimately allow for more fruitful conversation between the couples. 

Make a Plan

When you and your spouse find the right couple for you, you should formally ask them to be your mentors. Then you will need to make a plan to help make your time together more intentional and productive. 

You can meet, in person or on Skype if your mentors live far away, as often as you and your mentors would like. However, meeting once a month is probably a good place to start.

You can make your meetings more formal by using resources such as these discussion questions or by reading a book together, but you don’t have to. Just grab some coffee or a meal and talk about how your marriage looks during the day-to-day. Ask questions and learn from one another. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Stressed By All the Tasks and Projects of Wedding Planning and Newlywed Life? Words of Wisdom from St. Teresa of Calcutta.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

When asked where she drew the energy to serve the poorest, sickest, and most unseen individuals of her city day after day, St. Teresa of Calcutta expressed that time and attention are gifts to be given from one human heart to another. It wasn’t about quantity, she emphasized, because “love is inefficient.”

Love is inefficient. A privileged world away from the streets of India, these words rang out nonetheless as I prepared to enter into my vocation. 

Throughout my engagement, and on into marriage and young family life, I have experienced love’s inefficiency and am better for it.

I experienced it the afternoon my husband and I met halfway between Pennsylvania and West Virginia and attempted to create a wedding registry in a single afternoon. Arguments ensued as we felt the temptation to materialism and pressure of limited time together. 

I experienced it in my desire to spend significant time with each of our wedding guests as we circled the tables at our reception, wishing I could sit down for an extensive catchup while knowing there were dozens of other friends and family members to greet. Feeling the tension of being gracious for photos and hugs alongside the need to continue moving through the room.

I experienced it in our new apartment after our honeymoon, frequently prioritizing cleaning, unpacking, decorating, and thank you notes over quality time with my husband. And I continue experiencing it now, fighting digital distractions and my desire for an orderly home while striving to be present and attentive to my children. 

Have you been through something similar? A goal with a need for convenience and speed--a need for efficiency--that can come at the cost of your relationships and your spiritual life.

Wedding planning and the transition to married life bring with them countless tasks to resolve and check off, yet I’m reminded that love is my ultimate vocation and ultimate priority: reverence and thanks to the Father who has given these gifts and opportunities; sacrifice for and sincere attention to my family.

Though I remain far from perfect in this dimension of love, I’ve often recognized that perceived inefficiencies and inconveniences that I view as slowing me down until I can enjoy the “real” goal of time, conversation, and leisure with those I love, aren’t actually steps along the path to an end point at all. Instead, the Lord repeatedly shows me that in detours and on the path itself, I am prompted to embrace inefficiency and be present for the moment in which he has placed me. 

If that means our wedding registry could have been broken down into separate tasks as my husband and I enjoyed our weekend together instead of running to accomplish as much as possible; if the dishes aren’t done but I’ve gotten to read on the couch with my kids, what might seem like inefficiency is, in reality, an opportunity for connection, encounter, intimacy. An opportunity for a greater love.

What might seem like a distraction or inconvenience from a task at hand can, with a changed perspective, become invitations to realize our own poverty: without the Father, we’re capable of nothing.

When we reject the idols of efficiency and productivity in wedding planning and in daily married life, we allow ourselves to step forward in trust, to embrace his mercy, and to let our eyes be opened to a true seeing and deeper understanding of those we are called to love.

We love hearing your experiences and growing together in sisterhood. What areas of engagement or newlywed life have brought you struggles with efficiency, and how have you overcome them? Share in the comments and on our social media.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Rhoslyn + Adrian | Traditional Ukrainian Greek Rite Wedding

Rhoslyn and Adrian were married in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Their “Divine Liturgy” was celebrated in the Eastern liturgical rite, in a ceremony rich with profound symbolism.

Weddings in the Ukrainian Catholic Church traditionally have two parts: the betrothal, or the promise and exchange of rings, and the “crowning ceremony” during the nuptial liturgy. On the day of a couple’s marriage, or crowning, the bride traditionally walks from her home to the church in a joyful procession.

As can be seen in their beautiful wedding photos, there is a cup of wine, the Holy Gospel, and two wedding wreaths (or crowns) on a table near the front of the church. These verdant wreaths will be placed upon the heads of the bride and groom during the Crowning, the most solemn part of the wedding liturgy.

This website of a Ukrainian Catholic church explains that in that moment, they “are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom: [their] home and domestic church.” Then the Gospel passage about the wedding at Cana is read, and the bride and groom drink from the cup of wine in remembrance of it.

Finally, the priest leads the newly married couple around the table which now holds the Gospel and a cross. “The husband and wife take their first steps as a married couple, and the Church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which is the Gospel and the cross of our Lord.”

In Eastern Catholic churches, the sacraments are often referred to as the “Holy Mysteries.” And so, on their wedding day, Rhoslyn and Adrian entered into the Holy Mystery of marriage, excited and hopeful for what their life together would bring.

From the Bride: Adrian and I met while praying at a 40 Days For Life vigil in Cardiff, Wales during Lent 2018. We went on our first date soon after on February 22, 2018. 

Our courtship moved quickly, but we were both very cautious. I had suffered a failed engagement before meeting Adrian, and he had two children from a previous relationship before he was a practicing Catholic. We prayed the rosary together every day and went to Mass frequently. We met up daily and spoke even more on the phone.

We waited for what felt like a long time to get engaged, but may seem very quick: the 15th of June!

Our biggest wish for our wedding was that the liturgy should be reverent, beautiful, and traditional. The Ukrainian rite naturally encompasses all of that. 

The Ukrainian Catholic community in Cardiff is small, and they were using a temporary church at the time, which was not in good condition. Because the church was not a particularly “beautiful” one, we made sure to focus on the beauty of the liturgy. 

We spent quite a bit of money on flowers for the church, and they turned out beautifully. The vestments which Fr. James wore during the liturgy were also stunning. 

My parents very generously bought my wedding dress, which was handmade for me, and it was amazing! I had based my dream dress on the gown worn by St. Gianna Molla on her wedding day. 

Almost everyone in attendance had never been to an Eastern Rite wedding, but we were so pleased with how people prayerfully partook in the liturgy. My dad was part of the crowning, which is like the exchanging of rings in the Latin rite. That was so special for us. 

And finally, one of the most important things to us was that Adrian's children should feel like they were a part of the day. They were so excited for the wedding, and they loved the whole celebration. Deo gratias!

Photography: Peter Jones  | Church: St Theodore of Tarsus Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, Pomeroy Street, Cardiff, CF10 5GS (on google maps, it comes up as St Cuthbert's) | Reception: Bay Den Scout Hall, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0XR |  Engagement ring: Aardbark Jewelry  | Weddings rings: Jonathan David | Flowers: Bank of Flowers | Wedding cake: Francesca’s Cakes | Wedding dress: Zelie’s Roses

Wedding Planning | Father Jacques Phillipe and Detachment from Wedding Planning Desires

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The wedding planning process can be a stressful one. A bride-to-be not only yearns for the fulfillment of her visions of beauty, but often faces the expectations from her fiance, bridesmaids, mother, sisters, mothers-in-law, and friends. Even more, the wide world of Pinterest and Google introduce infinite vendors, budgets, designs, and decisions.

In the face of overwhelming options, it can be easy for a couple to forget God’s providential role in their wedding planning process.

Father Jacques Phillippe offers encouragement to acquire a steadfast peace of heart in his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace. Though his wisdom is not written in relation to wedding planning, his words speak truth into the decisions—and holy detachment—involved in planning a wedding with God. 

“Very frequently… the Lord asks only an attitude of detachment at the level of the heart, a disposition to give Him everything. But He doesn’t necessarily “take” everything… This detachment, even though it is painful at the moment, will be followed by a profound peace. The proper attitude then is simply to be disposed to give everything to God, without panic, and to allow Him to do things His way, in total confidence.”

Is the Lord asking you for a spirit of detachment in the midst of your wedding planning desires? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of decisions and pressures in this process, take your worries and your desires to him in prayer. With a desire to give it all to him, release your desires into his providence and trust that he will fill your heart—and your wedding day—with joy and peace. 

“Abandonment is not natural; it is a grace to be asked of God. He will give it to us, if we pray with perseverance.”

This abandonment of desire is not easy to our human nature. But your efforts to collaborate with God in this process and to glorify him through your sacrament are acts of trust and love. He is with you throughout this journey. 

“Obviously we do not want to say that it is a bad thing to be able to anticipate things, to develop a budget or prepare one’s homilies. Our natural abilities are also instruments in the hands of Providence! But everything depends on the spirit in which we do things.”

You can leave the homily preparations to your priest. In the meantime, detachment does not mean you stop doing the necessary work. Fulfilling a call means you receive an opportunity from God’s providence and you work in collaboration with him. Continue utilizing your strengths, trusting your intuition, and remaining in a posture of receptivity for the next grace. 

“Once could even say that the surest way to lose one’s peace is precisely to try to assure one’s own life solely with the aid of human industry, with personal projects and decisions or by relying on someone else… To preserve peace in the midst of the hazards of human existence, we have only one solution: We must rely on God alone, with total trust in Him, as your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:32).”

Offering your wedding planning desires to God is counter-cultural and, quite frankly, it’s not popular. Friends and family may not understand your peace which follows detachment. But, as Father Jacques Phillippe warns us, relying more heavily on human will rather than on God alone is the surest way to lose peace. Keep you heart on your heavenly Father and trust, with confidence, that your wedding day desires will be fulfilled. 

“The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the heart of Jesus.” 

“To grow or to enrich one’s spiritual life is to learn to love.”

What’s the point of detaching ourselves from our desires and abandoning them to God? Love. As we grow in virtue, we grow in holiness and love. This season of preparation for your wedding day is about planning a beautiful day. More importantly, however, this is a season to prepare your heart to love and be loved by your groom and to grow in holiness through your sacrament of marriage. 


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include 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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Actively Listening to your Spouse

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Communication does not merely involve verbalizing our own thoughts and feelings, but listening to those of our spouse. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

Listening well helps couples communicate more effectively, and ultimately deepens intimacy between the individuals. But it can be difficult to do, especially when discussing a sensitive subject.  

Here’s how to make listening a less passive (and more fruitful) process.

Pay attention

This first tip should go without saying, but you would be surprised at how often we listen to our spouse without giving them our full attention. 

Put down your phone, close your laptop, or turn off the television. Even if you aren’t looking directly at your various devices, it can be hard to listen when distractions lie just within arms reach. 

Watch your body language

Not only does our body communicate messages to the people we interact with, but it also affects how we perceive a situation and receive others. 

If it is a heated topic, don’t scowl, roll your eyes, or cross your arms. These bodily cues communicate a negative message to our spouse, and can even influence us in a harmful way, hardening our hearts and preventing us from listening with compassion.

Sit upright, face your spouse and look him in the eyes. This will help you pay more attention to what is being said, and will show your husband that you hear him. 

Don’t interrupt

When we aren’t actively listening, our mind begins to craft our response or argument before the other person finishes speaking. This can lead to us to jump into the conversation and interject with our own thoughts

Don’t dominate the conversation and don’t interrupt, even with well-meaning advice. You aren’t listening if you are speaking, so be patient and honor them by giving them a chance to express their thoughts and feelings. 

Reflect and rephrase

When they are done speaking, help your significant other know that you understood what they said by restating their point. Avoid jumping to conclusions. 

If you aren’t sure what they said or what they meant, ask for clarification. Make sure you listen and then respond appropriately. 

Be Empathetic

Try to understand where your spouse is coming from, especially if he shares a problem, concern, or difficulty. Validate their feelings; even if you don’t totally agree, look for some truth in their words. 

Sometimes your spouse just needs a listening ear. So seek first to understand your spouse, before offering advice. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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How to Avoid Fights about Money

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Much stress and many arguments in a marriage often result over money.

In fact, studies have shown that money is the number one issue couples fight about. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some ways to help you and your spouse avoid those dreaded money fights.

Talk about your financial history

Many marriage prep programs include discussion on finances but they don’t always dive as deep as they should. You and your partner should not only talk about how much debt you might be bringing to a marriage, but also about each individual’s “money mindset.”

How was money talked about in your home growing up? How do you feel about how it was talked about? Are you a spender or a saver?

Getting to the root of your money mindset can help them better understand their significant other, and help you as a couple to make adjustments.

Share your expectations

Many arguments in marriage result because of misunderstandings. If the couple does not clearly communicate their expectations when it comes to finances, it will likely result in an argument.

Will you have a joint bank account when you get married? Will you need to discuss with one another before making large purchases?

Sharing your expectations when it comes to money with your spouse or fiancé can help eliminate any confusion between the individual philosophies. It also allows the couple to have more meaningful conversations about finances, that will help avoid potential future arguments.

Set financial goals together

When my husband and I got married, we had several large student loans that we needed to pay off so getting out of debt became our major financial focus. But as we near the end of our student loans, we have shifted our focus on saving for the future.

What do you hope to accomplish in the realm of personal finances? Do you want to get out of debt? Do you want to buy a house? Save for your kids to go to college? Discuss your hopes and dreams with your significant other.

Laying out your desires will motivate you and your spouse to achieve them and help you create a more organized plan to meet these goals.

Create a budget and stick to it!

Whether you are trying to get out of debt or trying to save, making a budget with your partner can help.

After calculating your monthly income, create a budget that reflects your goals and family’s vision. How much will you save? How much will you tithe? Will you put aside money for a date night out or for a child’s birthday?

Be sure to revisit this budget monthly and adjust it to meet your family’s needs. A monthly finance meeting can help keep communication about money between spouses open, honest, and stress-free.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Is There a Definition of a "Catholic Wife?" How I Found My Identity in the Feminine Genius.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

So many of us pray throughout engagement and marriage to be good and holy wives. What does that actually mean, and how does it look in each woman’s life? For several years, I struggled to define who a holy, truly “Catholic” girlfriend, fiancee, and wife actually was.

I first heard the term “feminine genius,” as coined by Saint John Paul II in his apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women, on a summer retreat. The retreat introduced me to the letter and to Love and Responsibility, John Paul’s work illuminating the dignity and purpose of the human person, particularly as it relates to sexual ethics, the complementarity of men and women, and the real-life implications of how men and women relate to one another. 

These texts wrecked me, in the best way. My simpler, more youthful deas of love as feelings and gestures were torn down, replaced with the principles that love is an act of the will. Self-gift.

I attended the retreat with my college boyfriend. To be in a serious dating relationship, while reading a book about dating and all the potential obstacles to authentic love, struck me with insecurity. All of these ideas--love over utility, sincerity, honesty, chastity--grabbed my heart and made so much sense, yet they seemed like impossible standards. 

As a result, for several months I overanalyzed the nature of complementarity: I wondered if my actions communicated a sense of receptivity that the Pope said was integral to womanhood,while letting my boyfriend take a more initiating, leadership-focused role. I frequently questioned if I was living in a way that was truly “feminine.” 

My heart lived in a tension: I desired to be what I mistakenly perceived as the holiest type of Catholic woman, while also resisting passivity or weakness. When I was so concerned with whether I was being feminine in the right way, I wasn’t free.

Have you ever had a similar experience, wishing to be a prayerful, feminine, holy wife who is also a woman of strength and conviction? I found freedom in looking to Our Lady.

As I returned to school after the retreat and began attending a Marian prayer group, I delved into the mysteries of the Rosary for the first time. As I grew in devotion to Our Lady, I realized there is no single “type” of feminine genius, nor type of Catholic spouse, I needed to live by or fit into, because it is already there, integral to who we are. 

Within the term feminine genius there are as many ways to express femininity as there are unique, unrepeatable women in this world. Each of us is loved and willed into existence so specifically, with our own particular gifts.

If you find yourself looking for your purpose, particularly in preparations for marriage, I invite you to contemplate Mary as our ultimate womanly example. In her Magnificat at the Visitation, she joyfully proclaims, “my soul magnifies the Lord.” 

As women, we deeply desire to be seen. We can also help others to see the presence of the Lord. Mary proclaimed God’s love--magnified it--with her life. A prayer to do just that--to reveal God’s love to your husband, in body and spirit--radiates the Lord’s love. 

Where I used to mistakenly believe femininity meant a singularly calm, pious womanhood, I now know, through Mary’s making visible God’s love, that in reality the Father wants and needs women of all temperaments, spiritualities, hobbies, and strengths to make known his kingdom through their vocations. Only you can tell your story and share the love of God in a particular way; can love and sanctify your husband and future family in the ways they most deeply need.

The only true definition of a “Catholic wife” is the one specific to who you alone were created to be.

When I met and began dating my husband, there was an immediate ease. I saw “...that femininity doesn’t mean one thing only: it’s not always being the asked, never the asker; always the pursued, never the pursuer; always the comforted, never the comforter. It doesn’t mean being afraid to argue or voice strong opinions. It means loving my husband, in his uniqueness, and every person I encounter, in the specific way only I can.” 

My favorite Adoration chapel has a monstrance in the form of a wooden sculpture of Our Lady, holding out her arms. In her arms is the space for the Eucharist. We see how a woman is both holding--receiving--and magnifying her for all to behold. If we look to her, we can constantly revisit what it means to reveal him to others and bear his face, not our own, to the world.

In our identity as brides, the feminine genius calls women to be like a monstrance: only a vessel--a beautiful one, in soul and body--for revealing the Lord to our beloved, magnifying his love and presence to others. 


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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