Stewardship in Marriage

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Time and time again we see in Scripture the call to be good stewards of the spiritual and temporal gifts God has given us.   

Christian stewardship means more than generously sharing our time, talent, and treasure. It means that we “... receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.”

Stewardship looks differently for each couple, and husbands and wives should take time to pray about and discuss what it means for their particular family during this season of their life. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started: 

Budget prayerfully

When couples create a budget, they generally form it around a particular goal they want to achieve or a vision they have for their lives. For example, paying off student loans, buying a house, or saving for college. 

Creating a budget in this way makes sense, and will help your family use money prudently and intentionally, but consider inviting God into the process. 

Instead of simply asking the question “What do we want to do with our money?” ask God what He wants you to do with it. 

His plan might look a bit different than your plan in the beginning and it will probably require you being more intentional with your finances, so you can make room for the more important things.

Tithe

The idea of tithing goes back to Old Testament days, but it remains an important responsibility of members of the Church today. The Catechism states: “The faithful have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.”

Traditionally this meant giving 10% of your income, but the Catholic Church does not mandate a specific percentage. However, the spirit of the tithe has remained over the years. We should return the first-fruits of our labor to the one who ultimately gave them to us.  

You can choose to tithe to your local parish, and/or to another Catholic charity. Pray and discuss with your spouse how much you can tithe each month, and where you feel called to donate.

Give from your need

Remember the widow in the gospel of Mark who gave two small coins into the temple treasury? Of her, Jesus said: “This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” 

Of course we should be prudent with our finances, but too often we use our lack of money or resources as an excuse not to give. 

But true generosity requires sacrifice. It’s easy to be generous with our excess but it takes virtue to give from the little we have. This might look like forgoing our daily cup of coffee from the nearby shop, or inviting people to your home to share the meal you prepared. 

We practice stewardship when we take what we have been given and joyfully share it with others.

Practice gratitude

Stewardship means recognizing that all of the gifts in your life come from God, and involves giving from that gratitude instead of from obligation. 

Take some time each day with your spouse to think about the gifts in your life and thank God for them. 

Recognizing the generosity of God in turn helps you to show generosity to the people you encounter each day. It also helps you find satisfaction with what you have so you can live a more intentional life.


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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Marriage Prep | Identifying Sources of Clutter in Your Lives

Are you and your beloved in the season of preparing for marriage?

Just as our very nature as human persons is both material and spiritual, so too is every vocation. The call to marriage has a particularly tangible material element, as you and your fiancé prepare to combine two sets of possessions into a shared life.

Depending on your age, locations, and current situations, you might be living at your family home or with roommates, or one of you might even reside already in the rented or owned space you’ll soon share as husband and wife.

Have family and friends asked why you aren’t yet living together? More here on ways to talk about cohabitation.

Your home together will be your own domestic church; your source of rest and renewal. In our KonMari-friendly culture, there’s freedom in evaluating the physical items that might be hindrances to a beautiful, peaceful living space. As you anticipate and prepare for your first home together, consider evaluating not just the material, but the spiritual and emotional “clutter” you might be carrying. 

Here, questions to discuss with your beloved, intended to help you identify sources of clutter in your lives and determine fruitful ways to minimize or move past them. 

What’s our personal motivation to declutter?

Ridding yourselves of anything weighing you down (whether physical, spiritual, or emotional) prompts you to ask what exactly it is you hope to make room for.

A family mission statement can act as a touchstone and source of grace, clearly stating your hopes for your marriage. Read more about creating your own.

Consider, then, the habits, routines, and leisure the two of you hope to prioritize and pursue in your married life: is it a designated part of each day for prayer? Time to develop a hobby? Hosting and hospitality?

As you identify your hopes for your marriage and your family culture, you’ll grow in motivation to get rid of elements that detract from those hopes--if, for instance, you and your beloved desire a solid prayer routine as a bedrock of your relationship, you might feel more determined to commit to consistency, less phone time, and other distractions. Having a goal helps you remain focused!

What are our actual sources of clutter?

As you take stock of and pack your belongings for your newlywed home, identify physical items that are rarely used, in poor condition, or that you’ve brought with you from place to place “just in case” you’ll one day need them. Recycle, donate, or give items in good condition to a friend.

Consider what emotional and spiritual items you hope to move past, as well. Matters like family boundaries, wounds from past relationships, and mental health issues aren’t eliminated the moment you say your vows, yet taking active steps now toward resolving them in a healthy way will strengthen your relationship, for the remainder of your engagement and on into your marriage.

Have you experienced difficulty in resolving past relationships? More here: Healthy Ways to Talk About You and Your Beloved’s Pasts | The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Lastly, identify sources of mental clutter in your life: are there areas of planning, scheduling, and priorities in which you could grow? Consider what tools and conversations you and your beloved can implement to keep your expectations and plans on the same page when your social calendar and career responsibilities become a shared effort.

What habits or commitments are drains on our time and goals?

From screens to overscheduling to general aimlessness, it’s easy to feel your time is limited and easily eaten away. And yet, we often choose to do what we really want to do, for better or worse. 

If you sense that there isn’t enough time to pursue the goals you have for your home life, ask—with honesty and charity—what habits distract from your priorities throughout the day and what social involvements might not be an ideal fit for this season of your lives. Talk about ways to support each other in your individual and shared goals, to keep each other accountable, and to use your time fruitfully.

The desire for a beautiful, peaceful home is good; a reflection of our heart’s pull toward our ultimate heavenly home. While entering into marriage doesn’t eliminate all sources of clutter, the effort of dealing with the cluttered areas of your lives brings about a shared, united outlook on your vocation and a sense of deeper freedom. And freedom is for love.

What are the Non-Negotiables in Your Relationship?

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

Do you and your fiancé or spouse ever experience a desire for order and ritual within your relationship?

As someone who resists the feeling of being boxed into any one identity or image, and who struggles with personal accountability in schedules and routines, I used to think living by a set of particular daily practices or principles--in my mind, a set of “rules”--were a limitation.

After seasons of struggling with purpose, intentionality, and motivation, I’ve begun to realize that incorporating an appropriate degree of order into my daily life and my marriage aren’t limiting: in reality, they create a greater sense of freedom.

Freedom, for my husband and I, has felt tangibly, practically real in the experiences of not feeling enslaved to household responsibilities or to self-focused desires. It’s felt like our time can be used well and for the service of each other and our family. Our growth in this area is the fruit of a recent discussion in which we talked about our individual and family priorities; what we deemed “non-negotiables” in our life together.

Read the Spoken Bride team’s experiences with and tips for designating household responsibilities with your spouse. 

The non-negotiables my husband and I identified for our marriage are: family dinner, daily walks together with our children, going to bed at or close to the same time as each other, and providing each other with time alone for prayer (the daily readings, Holy Hours or daily Mass) and renewal throughout the week (for my husband, it’s a weekly hockey league he plays in with his brothers, and for me, it’s time for journaling and running errands on my own).

I encourage you and your beloved to communicate about your own non-negotiables, whether you’re in the state of anticipating your future marriage, whether you’re adjusting to the new habits and closeness of newlywed life, or whether, like me, you’ve been married several years and are eager to refocus on your priorities as a couple. Recognizing one another’s love languages can provide great context for identifying your needs. 

Here, suggested starting points for creating your own list. You might create a list divided into different areas of your life, as cited below, or into daily, weekly, and monthly priorities.

Spiritual

Identify concrete times and ways to pray together. Consider incorporating daily prayers like the Rosary or Liturgy of the Hours, committing to confession, Adoration, and/or daily Mass several times per month, celebrating particular days in the liturgical year, or a establishing a continual practice of reading and discussing the same spiritual book.

Find spiritual reading recommendations--including Theology, literature, and books on love and marriage--here.

Physical

Exercise and physical activity promote discipline and healthy ambition in all areas of your life. If working out--individually or together--is a priority for you, include it in your non-negotiables.

What’s more, in our creation as full persons, body and soul, the physical extends beyond exercise and looks to the relational. Discuss your outlook and needs regarding physical touch with your beloved, and determine ways appropriate to your relationship (whether engaged or married) to express affection. My husband and I, for instance, try to sit down on the couch together to chat and cuddle after our kids go to bed, before we begin our evening chores or leisure. I cherish the time spent reconnecting.

Read reflections on how a regular running habit helped one of our brides prepare emotionally, spiritually, and physically for marriage. 

Service

Are there particular responsibilities and sacrifices you can take on for the good of each other? Particularly for those whose love language is acts of service, daily assistance with chores and, God willing, family life, can be a meaningful non-negotiable that minimizes overwhelm and provides opportunities for sacrificial love. Your non-negotiables list might include matters like a nightly tidying up or making the bed in the morning.

Consider, as well, if service to your community--through weekly or monthly commitments to ministry, corporal works of mercy, volunteer work, or helping family and friends--is a high priority for your relationship.

Leisure

Identify ways you and your beloved can use your free time for both personal renewal and for nurturing your relationship. Depending on your individual temperaments and state in life, leisure preferences can widely vary, and are worth communicating about honestly.

Discuss ways to embrace leisure time in ways that leave the both of you feeling restored and close to one another: consider weekly or monthly date nights, designated times of day where your phones stay in another room, or pursuing shared hobbies.

Tired of the endless Netflix scroll? Read 8 inspired, non-TV ideas for your quality time

Although my husband and I aren’t perfect at meeting our daily, weekly, and monthly non-negotiables, simply having identified and committing to them has brought a deeper sense of purpose, intention, and yes, freedom, to our life, particularly in our season of raising a young family. We’d love to hear yours, as well. Share your non-negotiables (whether official or unofficial) in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s 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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Editors Share | Household Responsibilities

It’s our privilege to be invited into your story and vocation. In gratitude, we love sharing ours with you, as well. Today, the team responds to a reader question about tips for and experiences with determining each spouse’s role in household responsibilities.

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Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

I feel like my husband and I were lucky to fall into a pretty natural pattern. A lot of chores we do are things that either we like to do or that made the most sense for us. My husband Ben loves to cook, and I like doing dishes, so he cooks and I clean up when it’s done. Or he does the grocery shopping while he’s out, and I do laundry, vacuuming, and other general chores when I’m home during the day.




 

Andi Compton, Business Director

We’ve had a lot of trial and error. For money matters, my husband handles the long term (investing, retirement savings), while I handle the short term (designating our monthly spending areas and managing our budget).

We both hate dishes, so we try to do five minutes each and then swap. I do the laundry — which he had to teach me after our honeymoon! — and delegate chores to my husband or our kids as needed. He likes to cook, so he does it whenever he can. I prefer cleaning bathrooms over cooking.

It’s all about what works at the time — having children has made us reevaluate our responsibilities often. Seasons change, for sure.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

Our delegation of household chores reflects the combination of both our values and the logistics of our lives. We prioritize time together, a clean and orderly house, and eating dinner at home on weeknights. Since my husband works long hours and frequently travels for his job and I spend most time at home (with occasional freelance work), I take on most of the domestic responsibilities.

My thought process is if he’s working, I’m also working — even though the responsibilities and “profit” of our work look very different. But to both of our benefit, the work stops when my husband comes home and we can relax together. For matters where collaboration is essential or preferred — such as buying furniture, setting a budget, studying for a work qualification or hosting friends for an evening — we work together to fulfill the tasks at hand.

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder & Creative Director

With the travel-heavy nature of my husband’s career, I handle almost everything on the home front. On the same token, he grew up in a very traditional household, and we’ve tended to operate similarly. He does chores if and when I ask; though it might sound patriarchal, it’s the best way we maintain order.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

I do most of our housework, but sometimes my husband will ask if there’s a chore I’d like him to do. Most of the time, it’s the dishes!

I’ve gotten into the habit of spending the first part of every morning picking up from the night before, and I always make the bed (growing up, I almost never made my bed, and now I can’t function without doing it — a quirky grace of marriage).

Last Christmas, my husband gifted me a Bluetooth headset so I could listen to podcasts hands-free while doing chores, which just shows his practical but loving ability to notice the little things.

Our method of divvying up household responsibilities works for us because I am such an organization-oriented personality, and chores can actually function as a stress reliever. To be honest, we never talked much about daily workloads before our wedding day; it just happened like that after getting married. I’m sure once we have kids I’ll need extra help more often, but I remind myself in the meantime that the stereotypical “wife handling most of the housework” is a perfectly okay way to run your household, and it gives me more opportunities to actively serve my spouse and offer little daily tasks to the Lord. After all, picking up each other’s clothes off the floor everyday is a small road to sanctity!

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

I do all of our family’s laundry, and my husband does dishes most of the time--though I’ve been doing them more lately, as that’s a time when my he can spend time with the kids out of the house while I have time to myself. He cooks on evenings when he gets home first — I’m so grateful for his willingness to cook and clean! He is definitely the more organized one of us, so it helps hold me to a better standard.

 

Stephanie Calis, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief

Generally, my husband and I each do the chores we mind the least; I usually do laundry, and he usually does dishes. I cook most nights although he’s good at it and doesn’t mind when I ask for a break. He handles most of our financial matters.

I don’t know if we ever formally talked about it, but I’ve always liked that with us, it’s never been about particular roles for each spouse or about refusing to do tasks outside our typical “areas.” Instead, we simply try to do things without complaint and help each other when one of us is unable to do a particular job — we see it as more important that a task gets done than who does it.

Organization is an area where we differ more. I like to try and tidy up often during the day, whereas it’s less a priority for him. I think because I spend more time at home, it’s more important to me to get the mess out of the way. We try to bring up what’s important to us in household matters — clutter, scheduling appointments, grocery shopping — with charity and to give each other the benefit of the doubt when we fall short. Often, we’ve discovered that what seems like a deficiency in the other is actually rooted in a miscommunication of our expectations.

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

Splitting up household chores has not always been easy for us, and at other times it has. For example, I enjoy making the bed — plus I’m usually the last one to wake up in the morning — so it makes sense that I take on the responsibility of making the bed everyday. My husband has an easier time using the vacuum to get around furniture and small corners, so that’s a chore he has chosen to do every week for our household. 

While some chores came natural to us at the beginning, there are many chores that have not had the same result and it has caused quite a bit of tension between us, at times. 

For newlyweds household responsibilities can be difficult for many couples to figure out together. After over a year and a half of marriage we are still learning a lot about each other and how to navigate these responsibilities in our daily life — and that’s okay! Communication is a huge part of running a household. I’ve learned whenever there has been a household problem it is usually not about the chore itself, but how one is communicating their expectations to the other in a particular situation. Learning effective communication strategies can make household responsibilities go over more smoothly and it creates the opportunity for you to understand your spouse and their needs better.

Becoming Part of Parish Life

As Catholics, we need community to grow deeper in our relationship with God, and where better to find that community than your local parish?

PHOTOGRAPHY:    CLAIRE WATSON

PHOTOGRAPHY: CLAIRE WATSON

Married couples and families offer unique gifts to a parish that can bring a new life to a community.

Here are five tips to help you and your spouse become active members of your parish:

Register at your Parish

While “parish-hopping” has become the norm for most young people today, that is not what we are called to as Catholics.

The 1993 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that parishes “are the heart of our Church.” We need community to help us grow in our faith.

So whether you are attending a new church or the church you grew up in, it is important for couples to register their newly formed family with the parish. By registering with a parish, you are making a formal commitment to the community.

This commitment allows the parish and its ministers to better serve you and further encourages you to serve the needs of that particular community.

Attend a Regular Mass

Especially for families with small children, it is easy to move between parishes to fulfil your Sunday obligation depending on the mass times and your weekend plans.

However, if you really want to become an active member of your community, you should attend mass at your parish every Sunday (at least for a while).

Attending a regular mass at least once a week allows you to further acquaint yourselves with other members of the parish.

Get Involved

Do you have a heart for service? Or a desire to assist with preparations for the liturgy? Are you interested in joining your parish council or the Knights of Columbus?

Parishes often offer ministries in many different areas, so you can do the things you are passionate about while serving the wider parish community. If your parish doesn’t have a ministry you’d like to join, talk to your pastor about how you can get one started.

Start a Bible Study

Starting a Bible study or forming small group is an excellent way to intentionally build up the community among the church members. You might consider starting a group for fellow wives, young adults, or even other couples.

A Bible study can cultivate authentic friendships among the members and strengthen the bonds between them. It also facilitates an encounter with Christ, who can transform the parish for the better.

Open your Home

The creating of a home is calling unique to married couples, the fruit of which can be shared with your parish community.

Invite other couples or regulars at mass over for brunch, or maybe you can have local college students or your parish priests over for a home cooked meal.

Welcoming others into your home not only brings the joy of parish into your domestic church, but also allows your whole family to pour into other members of your community.


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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Modeling the Catholic Home in the Monastic Style

CARISSA PLUTA

 

For over 2,000 years men and women have set out for places of seclusion and peace in hopes of finding communion with God. While our vocation to marriage looks vastly different from the call of monks and nuns, we ultimately desire the same end.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

Most of us can’t pack up our stuff and move our lives to a quiet cabin in the woods, but we can learn so much from our brothers and sisters who live within the monastery walls; many aspects of the monastic life can be modified and applied to the Catholic home in order to help married couples and families grow closer to God.

Create a Rule of Life

Monks lead lives of discipline and order. Each religious order has their own set of precepts called a Rule of Life, which serves as a guide to keep their eyes fixed on God while living in their vocation.

Building a structure that influences your day-to-day is a beneficial practice for every couple and family that will help you and your marriage flourish.

In our vocation of marriage we have duties to our husbands, to our family, to our home, to God, and to ourselves. Having a Rule of Life helps ensure that each of these areas are receiving the attention they need, allowing you to find a deeper peace and a more profound freedom.

Create a Sacred Space

Monks and nuns in a contemplative order will spend much of their lives praying in a place secluded from the rest of the world. For those of us called to the vocation of marriage and family life, that isn’t really possible (nor should it be!)

However, we can create a space in our homes that functions as a “little monastery.”

Your home’s sacred space doesn’t have to be elaborate, it adds a lot of beauty to your home, and setting aside a wall or corner that fosters prayer and contemplation will help you refocus your attention on God.

Pray Daily

Every successful rule of life includes daily prayer, a necessity for anyone striving for holiness. Even incorporating simple daily prayers can bear immense fruit and can easily involve your spouse and your children.

You might consider praying a rosary (or a decade of the rosary) everyday, or take up saying the Liturgy of the Hours. You could also add an Examen to your evening routine, or if possible, go to a daily Mass at a nearby parish.

Cultivate Silence

In the words of monk and author Thomas a Kempis: “In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture.”

However, work, kids, and the constant buzzing of our phones and social media apps can make silence difficult to find outside of a monastery. Thankfully, there are many little changes you can make to cultivate silence even on the busiest of days.

You can try limiting your phone usage especially in the morning or before bed. Or you can try waking up before the kids and enjoy your coffee, or turning the radio off on your commute.


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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Finding Heaven in a One-Bedroom Apartment

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Throughout engagement my husband and I dreamed of the home we desired to live in—a cozy little home on a nice plot of land. There would be a garden and some chickens and room for our many children to explore. It would be filled with fresh cut flowers and fresh baked bread, and the kettle would never be cold.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

As I write this I am surrounded by piles of moving boxes preparing to move to our third apartment home in three years of marriage (not to mention the countless places we stayed while we couch-surfed for the first three months of our marriage).

We are city-dwellers and renters. We’ve yet to have a yard, and unless the little flower pot on our patio counts, we haven’t had a garden. We don’t live in a permanent residence, and won’t for at least another year or so.

We still occasionally catch ourselves dreaming about that home we envisioned for our family, but whether or not that dream is ever actualized remains to be seen.

The desire for a place that my husband and I can call our own finds its roots in the Garden. God entrusted the care of a place to the first man and woman.

After the Fall, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, and the loss of this place was a reminder of an even greater loss--the loss of unity with God and eternal paradise.

This scene in Genesis teaches a deeper reality contained in the idea of “home.”

Home is a foreshadowing of heaven.

The space you inhabit, big or small, is sacred. And like our first parents, husbands and wives are entrusted with the divine duty of placemaking.

Being made in the image and likeness of the God who made heaven and earth, we are called to be “co-creators” of a little Heaven.

Whether you find yourself in your forever home, a small studio apartment, or a spare room at your in-laws’ house, you are called to cultivate a place of beauty and communion.

Our tiny, one-bedroom apartments have each been filled with just as much life as the farmhouse we once dreamt of.

Between Bible studies and dinner parties, Sunday morning breakfasts and afternoon tea, the lives of so many people have intersected in our little living spaces.

They are often filled with fresh flowers and fresh bread, and usually bursting at the seams with music and laughter.

In them, we have encountered God and his immense love for us, and facilitated that encounter for others.

Even amid changes and transitions, trials and hardships, the little home we created together serves as a constant, unchanging reminder of our eternal home.


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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