5 Lessons from Stephanie and Andrew Calis.

Stephanie and Andrew first bonded over hazelnut coffee and T.S. Eliot in college. They were married in July 2011 and are best of friends who have watched and rewatched many Wes Anderson movies, given talks on marriage and Natural Family Planning, eaten a lot of ice cream, and had a baby together.

They live with Aaron, the baby, near Washington, D.C. Grateful that they took the time to share some lessons and tips:

3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people. This special edition — 5 Lessons — features important communication lessons learned in a marriage, among others, from Stephanie Calis — who blogs at Captive the Heart — and her husband, Andrew.

5 Lessons from Stephanie and Andrew Calis

Andrew, Stephanie, and Aaron

Stephanie and Andrew first bonded over hazelnut coffee and T.S. Eliot in college. They were married in July 2011 and are best of friends who have watched and rewatched many Wes Anderson movies, given talks on marriage and Natural Family Planning, eaten a lot of ice cream, and had a baby together. They live with Aaron, the baby, near Washington, D.C. Grateful that they took the time to share some lessons and tips:

3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Karee Santos.

Family-portrait-with-Mom-and-Dad-0013 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

This edition features Karee Santos, a happily married mom of six who founded the online marriage support community Can We Cana?. Karee’s writing has appeared all over the web, including Catholic Match Institute (the blog of CatholicMatch.com), CatholicLane.com, and CatholicMom.com. Karee and her husband Manny are writing a Catholic marriage advice book based on the teachings of St. John Paul II. Excited that Karee agreed to share some lessons and some tips:

AS: How did you meet your husband?

KS: There are two different versions of that story, actually. The first time I remember meeting my husband was at a party hosted by our mutual friend Ayman. But Manny remembers meeting me two years earlier when he was walking to work with Ayman, and I passed them crossing the street. The way Manny tells it, he turned to Ayman and said, “Who was that girl?” but Ayman said, “She’s not your type.” And that was that for the next two years.

When we met again at our friend Ayman’s party, Manny told me he still remembered that chance one-minute meeting two years before. Neon “stalker” bulbs started flashing in front of my eyes. “Maybe not,” he temporized. And then he quoted Tolstoy. Something about how the course of a man’s life could be irrevocably changed because on a certain day he met a certain woman wearing a dress that curved in just a certain way. All was forgiven.

AS: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in marriage?

KS: “In sickness and in health” isn’t just a platitude. When you’re young and in love, you think that sickness won’t hit until you’re 80. But December of the first year we were married, Manny was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. I was six months pregnant and had traveled by myself to Virginia to attend my grandfather’s funeral. Manny was supposed to join me a few days later. Instead, he called to tell me about the tumor. I didn’t believe it at first, but then Manny handed the phone to his best friend Tom, a neuroradiologist. Tom explained there was no doubt. Manny had to be operated on right away. My husband has had several brain tumors since then, often diagnosed when I’m hugely pregnant. It’s a struggle every time to trust that God’s love and the prayers of our friends will see us through.

AS: And a second lesson?

KS: Saying something once is more powerful than saying it a dozen times. If you ask too many times, it sounds like nagging. Instead, in a quiet moment, say very deliberately, “I really wish you would …” And be specific! Then wait a few weeks to see what happens. I often find out that my husband has thought about what I asked for the whole time and tried hard to do it for me. But if I ask too often, he’ll just tune me out.

AS: And a third lesson?

KS: Make decisions together. One of you will naturally make decisions faster than the other. Don’t let that person wind up making all the decisions by default. The faster person needs to wait for the person who likes to spend more time mulling things over. Because if one person starts making all the decisions, you’re not a unit any more. One person is in control, and the other is along for the ride. I’ve seen marriages fall apart over this.

AS: What’s one tip you’ve got for single people?

KS: Back when I was single, one of my friends accused me of being commitment-shy. “You date people you would never dream of marrying. It’s a built-in escape hatch,” she said. The night I met my husband I caught myself doing the same thing – spending hours talking to an exciting person with whom I shared nothing in common. In the last half hour of the party, I walked away from that guy and forced myself to meet someone else. That “someone else” became my husband! So stop dating people you know are ultimately wrong for you. It’s just not worth the bother.

AS: And another tip for singles?

KS: Don’t lose track of your friends. Most married couples meet each other through mutual friends. If you don’t have a big network of friends, go out there and make some! Clubs like running clubs or choruses or church young adult groups are great ways to meet new people. You’ll automatically have something in common and something to talk about!

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Click here to connect with Karee online.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.

3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Edmund Mitchell.

1452436_10201066878489833_283328813_n3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

 
This edition features Edmund Mitchell, a writer, speaker, and founder of ReverbCulture.com, a community of young adults living the Catechism. He writes about obsessions at edmundmitchell.com and writes and podcasts more formally at Reverb Culture. Excited he agreed to share some lessons and some tips:

AS: How did you meet your wife?

EM: This attractive girl who was a friend of a friend but whom I had never met sat down with us for dinner in the cafeteria junior year of college:

“Danielle, nice to meet you.”
“I’m Edmund. Where are you from?”
“Texas”
“Oh.” (trying to be interested in her and also trying to make a joke) “So, do you own a gun?”
[Awkward silence]
The rest is history.

I was and still am attracted to Danielle because she intimidates and challenges me, she is confident about what she stands for, and she is a softy like me deep down. Plus she’s gorgeous and fun to be around. She also needs me to make her laugh. (We were married on) May 28, 2011.

AS: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in marriage?

EM: Some things you can never take back once you’ve said them. You can apologize until you are blue in the face, but you can’t go back in time and ctrl+z what was said.

AS: And a second lesson?

EM: If you don’t schedule it on the calendar, it’s not real. As a youth minister, this was a hard lesson to learn. Time management becomes huge when another person is counting on you to get your crap done and spend time with them. It also matters because you can go two years thinking “I really want us to start going on more dates soon” and never actually get around to doing it. If you don’t schedule your day/week/month out beforehand, someone or something else will schedule it for you. If you start the month off by marking down Tuesday as date night or Friday as sit-down-and-talk-finances night, you are 200 times more likely to get it done.

AS: And a third lesson?

EM: Another time management tip I learned the hard way. (Can you tell I struggled with this?) Youth ministers shouldn’t work more than 50 hours a week. Period. No excuses. Parkinson’s Law says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

I’m a lot more productive when I say I MUST leave the office today by 3 p.m. than when I say “I have so much to do; once I get enough done, I’ll go home.” That’s why Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, goes home at 5:30 every day.

With whatever job you do, set boundaries for the various sectors of your life. “I should be spending no less than X amount of time with my family. I should be spending no more than X amount of time at work. I should be spending X amount of time praying. I should be spending X amount of time doing something for myself that recharges me.” My marriage got a lot healthier and more fun once I set boundaries.

AS: What’s one tip you’ve got for single people?

EM: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to date and make that relationship work. Date lots of people. Don’t call it dating. Just go out for coffee with a guy/girl and get to know him or her better. Vocations grow out of a slow building of intimacy and trust. The ideal situation is that a vocation to marriage would gradually and naturally grow out of a friendship. No “Will you be my girlfriend? Check YES or NO” letters. No pressure of “Are we dating? Are we exclusive? Do I smell?” Be yourself because you can’t keep up a charade for long in a marriage. Then pay attention to who sticks around, who brings out the best in you, and if you can see yourself marrying (laying your life down for) that person.

AS: And another tip for singles?

EM: When you’re discerning marriage with somebody, talk about the hard stuff early and lay down a foundational understanding that marriage will be hard and a long process of growth for both of you. You’re in this for the long haul and sometimes you might feel like the only thing keeping you going is the fact that you made a promise to God to stick with this person no matter how much bleeding and tears it takes. Your marriage is God’s way of bringing a concrete example of unconditional love into the world. It’s also the only way you will become a saint (if marriage is your vocation). Don’t be a jerk, because you’re not perfect either and God should have stopped loving you a long time ago. Good thing His idea of love and mercy is bigger than our own. As my Dad once said: “There isn’t THE book you can read to solve all your marriage problems or help you have the perfect marriage. You write that book as you go.” The cool part he left out is that God helps you write it.

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Connect with Edmund on Twitter @EdmundMitchell.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.

3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Lisa Hendey.

ND-20133 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

This edition features Lisa Hendey, “the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. She married her husband, Greg, in 1986. I’m excited she took the time to share with us:

AS: Where did you meet and marry your husband? 

LH: Greg and I met as juniors at the University of Notre Dame. We had mutual friends and would occasionally see each other while crossing campus. We began dating in the Fall of our senior year. We were married a year after our graduation from Notre Dame, on May 31, 1986 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. As you can imagine, being married at our University was a blessing not only for us, but also for our family and friends. The Basilica is such a special place! An Irish priest – Msgr. Michael Collins – who was a lifelong family friend of mine from California officiated at our wedding.

AS: What’s the first lesson you’ve learned by being married?

LH: Keep God at the center of your marriage. Continually pray for one another and with one another.

AS: And the second lesson?

LH: Enjoy each other. Greg and I don’t have identical interests, but we’ve learned to enjoy each other’s favorite pastimes. This enables us to spend our leisure time with one another, rather than away from each other. I’m not saying by any means that we are constantly together – we both have active careers and hobbies we enjoy. But we strive constantly to put our relationship first. Have fun with one another!

AS: And the third lesson? 

LH: Maintain open lines of communication, especially when you are most busy. Do not make important decisions without speaking with each other. Have stressful conversations in private, rather than in public.

AS: What’s one tip for readers who are single?

LH: Don’t rush into anything and do not compromise your values simply because you desire a relationship.

AS: And a second tip for singles?

LH: Remember that God has a perfect plan for your life! Pray for his will – not your own – to unfold in his time. Pray for the grace to be open to life’s adventures as they come. Use the extra time you may have to serve the world around you.

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Connect with Lisa: Follow her on Twitter @LisaHendey.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.

3 Lessons and 2 Tips from Sarah Reinhard.

IMG_94563 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

This edition features Sarah Reinhard, a “Catholic wife, mother, author, writer, blogger, speaker, chugger of coffee” who married her husband in November, 2003 on a day so cold it nearly snowed. Sarah’s books include A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy and Catholic Family Fun. Grateful for the time she took to share lessons and tips with us:

AS: Where and/or how did you meet your spouse?

SR: We met at what I call the Big Green Dealership of Love: the John Deere dealership that we both worked at. I was working the parts counter and he was a mechanic. Every time we talked, it felt like a grown-up was really taking me seriously. Eventually we started dating. And now we’ve been married almost 10 years and we’re blessed with three kids.


AS: What’s the first lesson you’ve learned by being married?

SR: Don’t speak badly of your spouse. Ever. Not even in your mind.

AS: And the second lesson?

SR: Laugh together. A lot.

AS: And the third?

SR: Make time for each other. Even when you’re too busy. It’s the most important investment you’ll make in another (aside from making time for God).

AS: What’s one tip for readers who are single?

SR: God’s got your back. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds like an empty sort of comment, but there’s hope and God knows what’s best.

AS: And a second tip for singles?

SR: Enjoy life in the present. It will change soon enough, so enjoy what you have.

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Connect with Sarah: Read more about Sarah’s work at snoringscholar.com.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.