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Building Healthy Marriages through Natural Family Planning
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Family Foundations Plus

Issue No. 5, February 2012

 

It has been a crazy week for those of us paying close attention to the news developments following the Obama Administration’s announcement last week that Catholic institutions will be forced to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in the health care plans offered to their employees.

Just this afternoon came news of a “compromise” by the White House in which they claim a woman’s insurance company “will be required to reach out directly and offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The religious institutions will not have to pay for it.” Or so they say.

This is a complicated issue and the arguments and rhetoric flying around are enough to cause you to throw your arms up in defeat. Yet we must not allow the noise, inflated rhetoric, and cacophony of complaints about the Church’s “outdated” and “ridiculous” teachings stop us from standing up against this outrageous assault on religious freedom.

Please support our bishops who are boldly standing firm by visiting the resources they have provided and letting your voice be heard by writing to Congress:

Bishops Vow to Fight Coercive HHS Mandate

Consider financial support of our work

One way we can support the bishops and the Church is by strengthening our commitment to bring the message of NFP to more and more couples. We stand ready to serve the Church in the fight against the HHS mandate by doing what we do best: teaching and promoting NFP!

A gift to CCL will help further our ministry and allow us to train more teachers and provide more classes around the country.

All of the ways you can financially help further the CCL ministry are outlined here: Give to CCL!

Thank you, and may God bless you and your families.

Ann Gundlach, Editor

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In the mail SOON!

We turn our attention to the premenopause transition in the March/April 2012 issue of Family Foundations! We’ve compiled a collection of articles that will shed light on what lies ahead on your NFP journey, such as:

  • The mid-life transition - CCL couples reflect on how premenopause changed their bodies, their hearts, and their marriages
  • Men in mid-life - a family practitioner responds to the concept of male menopause
  • The sibling span - The family dynamics that emerge when couples remain open to life and the children’s ages span a decade or two
  • The marriage counselor - Practical advice to ease the frustrations common to this transition time
... and enjoy one Teaching Couple’s story about not trusting NFP in the beginning in this SNEAK PEEK!

Our award-winning Family Foundations is sent to all CCL members. If you don’t already receive it, we ask you to consider Becoming a member.


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Salt & Light

The Best 40 Days of Your Year

By Fr. Erik Pohlmeier, CCL Board Member

The two essential qualities of a good marriage are openness and generosity. These two virtues work directly against the selfishness that can creep in and break down a marriage. With openness, you promise to let your spouse in — in to who you really are and how the desires of your life change and grow. With generosity, you place the good of your spouse above your own and learn to love in a self-giving way.

Of course, these same qualities are essential to your life with God and to your decisions about God’s plan for children from your marriage. The vow from your wedding day of openness to God’s will with children is lived out in the day-to-day fidelity of faith. It is allowing God to penetrate your fears and expectations. It is giving of your talents and abilities to better see God’s mysterious ways of working through you.

Openness and generosity toward God and toward your spouse work together. Living these virtues before God shapes and molds you so that they become the most natural way to approach your spouse.

Each year the season of Lent is a gift to us. It is a time to reflect on who we are and who God wants us to be. We have many traditions during these 40 holy days. Many people are considering what they will give up.

My suggestion is that you relate your practices of discipline during Lent to the virtues that best shape your life. The goal of giving something up is not just to see if you can make it for 40 days, but rather to help be more aware of God’s place in your life. Let your focus of these 40 days be on something that forms a habit for all the days to come.

Try giving up something you normally insist on with your spouse as a way to develop generosity. Try giving up something that takes time away from your spouse. Try doing something that fosters the intimacy of two becoming one. Joined with prayer the practices of Lent end with the outpouring of grace at Easter.

God has a plan for your life and for your marriage that relates not only to children. I believe that if you work on growing in openness and generosity with God and with your spouse, these will be the best 40 days of your year..

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Have a Happy Marriage: Five Ways to Keep the Love Alive

by Rachel Balducci

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and that’s got me thinking about love. Love is in the air! Chocolates, roses, red wine and crab dip. (That last one might be specific to me and Paul?).

But what really keeps the love alive? Flowers and candy are all well and good but a happy marriage they do not make. Yes, they add an extra spark, but no amount of ornamentals can make up for a good foundation — and if you don’t have that, the little extras will do very little to help.

In my experience, in my reading and talking and listening about what makes the very best marriages — and in reflecting on the best tools Paul and I have come across — here are my recommendations for what will get you far in your marriage, what will bring you true happiness and love to last a lifetime.

1. Quit thinking about how you could improve as a couple. This might sound counter-intuitive, but let me tell you from experience that always looking at the ways your marriage could be closer to your ideal will get you nowhere fast. Yes we want to improve and be the best we can be. But when we’re always looking at how other “ideal” couples operate, we only become more aware of our flaws and (worse!) of our spouse’s shortcomings.

2. On that note, don’t compare. Don’t look at the great job your best friend’s man does of taking out the trash, especially if that’s something your own husband isn’t quick to do. Trust me, for every two really amazing things her husband does, your own husband has at least that many good qualities — but most likely in totally different areas. Stop finding fault and start finding favor.

3. Respect your husband. A few years ago I heard a talk by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, based on his book Love and Respect. The book spells out a very basic premise: men want to be respected, women want to be loved. This revolutionized our marriage. Too long had I been giving my husband all kinds of helpful “tips” and “advice” on a variety on topics, only to end each conversation with “I love you baby.” What husbands would rather hear is “I respect you” and oftentimes the best way we can do this is to be supportive and encouraging. Thank your man for how hard he works for your family. Don’t tell him how he could do better.

4. Don’t keep score. Don’t keep track. Today you grocery shopped and cleaned the house and took care of the kids and did homework with them and trained them and took care of the dog. What did your husband do? Well, it doesn’t matter. Maybe he did 10 times more. Or 10 times less. The minute you start keeping track of who did what, things are going downhill. Give until it hurts. And then give a little more. The key to a happy marriage is not 50/50. It’s 100 percent ON YOUR PART. And not worrying about how much your spouse is giving. If every married person woke up each morning and asked himself (or herself) “what can I do to make my spouse’s life better today?” can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be?

5. Pray together. Even if it’s three minutes, holding hands as you fall asleep, spend time as a couple in prayer. If your spouse isn’t comfortable praying with you, then pray for your spouse. Prayer and personal holiness is at the heart of so much good in every situation. Pray for patience. Pray for more love. Pray for the ability to love your spouse extravagantly.
While these might not be the solution for every marriage, they can do a world of good for those of us who can too easily get sucked into the dangerous self-centered seasons of keeping score. Don’t do it! The person who suffers the most is YOU.

Dying to self keeps the love alive!

— Rachel Balducci blogs at Testosterhome.net, faithandfamilylive.com, and is a co-host of The Gist, a new program from CatholicTV.com.

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