How Prayer Saved My Marriage by Richard Paul Evan

9 06 2018

My oldest daughter, Jenna, recently said to me, “My greatest fear as a child was that you and mom would get divorced. Then, when I was 12, I decided that you fought so much that maybe it would be better if you did.” Then she added with a smile. “I’m glad you guys figured things out.”

For years, my wife, Keri, and I struggled. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure what initially drew us together, but our personalities didn’t quite match up. And the longer we were married the more extreme the differences seemed. Encountering “fame and fortune” didn’t make our marriage any easier. In fact, it exacerbated our problems. The tension between us got so bad that going out on book tour became a relief, though it seems we always paid for it on re-entry. Our fighting became so constant that it was difficult to even imagine a peaceful relationship. We became perpetually defensive, building emotional fortresses around our hearts. We were on the edge of divorce and more than once we discussed it.

I was on book tour when things came to a head. We had just had another big fight on the phone and Keri had hung up on me. I was alone and lonely, frustrated and angry. I had reached my limit.

That’s when I turned to God. Or turned on God. I don’t know if you could call it prayer—maybe shouting at God isn’t prayer, maybe it is—but whatever I was engaged in I’ll never forget it. I was standing in the shower of the Buckhead, Atlanta, Ritz-Carlton yelling at God that marriage was wrong and I couldn’t do it anymore. As much as I hated the idea of divorce, the pain of being together was just too much. I was also confused. I couldn’t figure out why marriage with Keri was so hard. Deep down I knew that Keri was a good person. And I was a good person. So why couldn’t we get along? Why had I married someone so different than me? Why wouldn’t she change?

Finally, hoarse and broken, I sat down in the shower and began to cry. In the depths of my despair powerful inspiration came to me. You can’t change her, Rick. You can only change yourself. At that moment I began to pray. If I can’t change her, God, then change me. I prayed late into the night. I prayed the next day on the flight home. I prayed as I walked in the door to a cold wife who barely even acknowledged me. That night, as we lay in our bed, inches from each other yet miles apart, the inspiration came. I knew what I had to do.

The next morning I rolled over in bed next to Keri and asked, “How can I make your day better?”
Keri looked at me angrily. “What?”

“How can I make your day better?”

“You can’t,” she said. “Why are you asking that?”

“Because I mean it,” I said. “I just want to know what I can do to make your day better.”

She looked at me cynically.

“You want to do something? Go clean the kitchen.”

She likely expected me to get mad. Instead I just nodded. “Okay.”

I got up and cleaned the kitchen.

The next day I asked the same thing. “What can I do to make your day better?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Clean the garage.”

I took a deep breath. I already had a busy day and I knew she had made the request in spite. I was tempted to blow up at her.

Instead I said, “Okay.” I got up and for the next two hours cleaned the garage. Keri wasn’t sure what to think. The next morning came.

“What can I do to make your day better?”

“Nothing!” she said. “You can’t do anything. Please stop saying that.” “I’m sorry,” I said. “But I can’t.”

I made a commitment to myself. “What can I do to make your day better?” “Why are you doing this?” “Because I care about you,” I said.

“And our marriage.” The next morning I asked again. And the next. And the next. Then, during the second week, a miracle occurred. As I asked the question Keri’s eyes welled up with tears. Then she broke down crying. When she could speak she said, “Please stop asking me that. You’re not the problem. I am. I’m hard to live with. I don’t know why you stay with me.”

I gently lifted her chin until she was looking in my eyes. “It’s because I love you,” I said. “What can I do to make your day better?” “I should be asking you that.” “You should,” I said. “But not now. Right now, I need to be the change. You need to know how much you mean to me.” She put her head against my chest. “I’m sorry I’ve been so mean.” “I love you,” I said. “I love you,” she replied. “What can I do to make your day better?” She looked at me sweetly. “Can we maybe just spend some time together?” I smiled. “I’d like that.” I continued asking for more than a month. And things did change. The fighting stopped. Then Keri began asking, “What do you need from me? How can I be a better wife?”

The walls between us fell. We began having meaningful discussions on what we wanted from life and how we could make each other happier. No, we didn’t solve all our problems. I can’t even say that we never fought again. But the nature of our fights changed. Not only were they becoming more and more rare, they lacked the energy they’d once had. We’d deprived them of oxygen. We just didn’t have it in us to hurt each other anymore.

Keri and I have now been married for more than 30 years. I not only love my wife, I like her. I like being with her. I crave her. I need her. Many of our differences have become strengths and the others don’t really matter. We’ve learned how to take care of each other, and, more importantly, we’ve gained the desire to do so. Marriage is hard. But so is parenthood and keeping fit and writing books and everything else important and worthwhile in my life. To have a partner in life is a remarkable gift. I’ve also learned that the institution of marriage can help heal us of our most unlovable parts. And we all have unlovable parts.

Through time I’ve learned that our experience was an illustration of a much larger lesson about marriage. The question everyone in a committed relationship should ask their significant other is, “What can I do to make your life better?” That is love. Romance novels (and I’ve written a few) are all about desire and happily-ever-after, but happily-ever-after doesn’t come from desire—at least not the kind portrayed in most pulp romances. Real love is not to desire a person, but to truly desire their happiness—sometimes, even, at the expense of our own happiness. Real love is not to make another person a carbon copy of one’s self. It is to expand our own capabilities of tolerance and caring, to actively seek another’s well being. All else is simply a charade of self-interest.

I’m not saying that what happened to Keri and me will work for everyone. I’m not even claiming that all marriages should be saved. But for me, I am incredibly grateful for the inspiration that came to me that day so long ago. I’m grateful that my family is still intact and that I still have my wife, my best friend, in bed next to me when I wake in the morning. And I’m grateful that even now, decades later, every now and then, one of us will still roll over and say, “What can I do to make your day better.” Being on either side of that question is something every married person should have as a goal.
Shalom





What is Your Marriage Worth?

18 03 2018

Many years ago I listened to a preacher share about how his wife would leave the television on at night and sleep off and they lived in a country where you pay based on how long you keep the TV on. Leaving the TV on therefore increases the television bill.

That attitude of his wife would annoy him and he was always angry at his wife for doing that yet it continued. It was obvious it was going to become a strain in the marriage.

Then one day while ruminating over this issue, I asked myself, “Is your marriage not worth fifty dollars extra at the end of the month? If this attitude of your wife will mean an extra bill of fifty dollars, is it too much to pay for peace to be in your marriage?”

Unlike me, my wife is not a morning person. I can wake up by 2:00am, work till 5:00am, go back to bed and still get up by 6:00am and start my day. For my wife, I literally have to drag her out of bed in the morning. Her day begins only after she has had her bath.

In some homes, the wife is the one who goes to the kitchen to heat up water for the family to bathe. I guess it comes naturally with women. In my home, heaven help me if I wait for my wife to do that. I will wait for a long time. So I have resolved to make that my responsibility.

Even with the kids I will still have to be the one doing that in the morning because my wife is not a morning person. If that is the price I have to pay for peace to be in my home, it is worth it. We are talking about the price of peace.

One of my friends shared with me how his wife will never monitor the fuel gauge when driving. It is when the car finally stops that she realizes the car has run out of fuel. Guess who she will call? The husband. He will have to be the one to sort out the problem.

After several of such calls he had to find a way around it. He ensures the fuel tank is full at the beginning of the week which will take the wife through the week. That way he does not get any phone call that the car has stopped. It is the price of peace for him.

When I was working on this article I requested that people share some of the prices they have had to pay to maintain peace in their homes. I got a lot of responses that revealed that no marriage is perfect. The reason we see certain marriages as better than ours is because the parties in those marriages are ready to pay certain prices to maintain peace in their homes.

Let me share a few of the responses I got.

“In my home I just have to tolerate my husband’s attitude. He has this habit of talking over issues repeatedly. He can talk, talk and talk when a situation happens and will nag you till you fall over. So to allow peace what I do is try and keep my mouth shut. No argument, no talking back or simply walk away so that peace can reign.”
-Ajo

“I usually don’t turn off the lights in a room when I’m done using it. At the beginning of my marriage, hubby will tell me to always make sure I do that when exiting the room, but after correcting me several times without change, he decided to just check back anytime I leave a room and will help turn the lights off. He just stopped complaining and started helping me do it. Eventually, I had to determine in myself to be more aware and I’ve gotten better doing that.
-Olu

“My wife has a thing for matchsticks. After using one, she keeps it for ’emergency’. This act irritates me. No matter how long we discuss this (more than 9 years now) she still does. So I decided to dispose them and then I offer her a fresh one should an ’emergency’ arise.”
-Dapo

“I don’t pressurize my husband to do or not to do anything, especially something he really wants to, or really doesn’t want to do. Putting pressure on him will only irritate him. I keep quiet and I pray instead. That way, I have peace and also get what I want. On the other hand, my husband will always hang the mosquito nets, switch off the lights and unplug my phones, because I always sleep off. He has stopped complaining. He will do the job instead.”
-Bisola

Those were just a few of the several responses I got about the price of peace that people are paying in their homes. A lot of other people were encouraged when they saw that they were not alone. You think you are the only one having an issue until you listen to others.

Sometimes we need to do things we don’t like for the sake of peace. If it is not too high a price then why not just do it and move on with our lives? Not every battle is worth fighting.

That is why it is important to be able to lead yourself because for these people whose reports we just read you find that either they or their spouses took responsibility for peace. That is part of what personal leadership is about.

I could have picked a fight with my wife for refusing to get up from the bed in the morning. Hamzah could have picked a fight with his wife for that thing with the matchsticks.

Fatimah’s husband could have picked a fight with her for always forgetting to turn off the lights. But personal leadership helped us to take the other route thereby maintaining peace in our homes.

Now this does not mean you will never have to correct each other in the relationship or continually be in endurance mode throughout the marriage especially when it has to do with abuse. That is a completely different matter. You don’t endure abuse. But instead of fighting over why your spouse always presses the toothpaste tube from the middle, why not buy a second one so you have yours and he has his and both of you have peace? Has that not solved the problem.





Uzoma and Omi conquers Warri: Igbankwu 29th Dec 2017

31 12 2017





So What Did God do? O’Reilly’s Sex allegations

27 10 2017

Bill O’Reilly of Fox news says he is ‘Mad at God’. It appears that his anger over a number of sex harassment allegations against him has unhinged him at last.
Fox arch rival, The New York Times coordinates these allegations. It reported Saturday that O’Reilly paid $32 million to Lis Wiehl, a Fox News legal analyst who made regular appearances on O’Reilly’s show for 15 years, in a settlement related to sexual harassment allegations. Wiehl accused O’Reilly of “repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her,” the Times reported, citing two people briefed on the matter.
So what did God do?
Why is O’Reilly mad at God?
Does God work for the NYT?
We live in a society that is nice to everyone, except God!
We blame him for anything, insult him and nothing happen. No libels, no courtrooms. Main street tells lies about God and his Church all the time and go scot free

One can be mad at someone for an injury suffered for two reasons. Either he blames him for his troubles or he feels that he could stop it but failed to do so. Perhaps, O’Reilly is mad for the second reason.
Then I am surprised. Bill O’Reilly is perhaps the most prominent Catholic conservative on American television. And he doesn’t know his Catholic faith?
God created the world but has left man free. The Catholic Church teaches that God created man in his own image and likeness, and gave him the gift of freewill to enjoy and direct himself through his intelligence, in other words, to act on his own. Thus of all creatures, only man can choose good or evil. If he chooses evil, God does not retract his freedom, for that wouldn’t be true freedom. Thus man may merit heaven or hell when he dies. Heaven if he chooses well, hell if he chooses badly

The men working at the NYT are free, they can choose to publish falsehood, and God will not retract their freedom even to please Bill O’Reilly.
I think O’Reilly should accept that even a good man can suffer injustice. He should read the bible and find plenty of stories of innocent people suffering injustice; he will find the story of Jesus Christ whose enemies devised a vicious plan to kill him by nailing him to the cross. And it worked.

I do sympathize with O’Reilly; there is nothing as unjust and painful as the loss of a good name. As they say, money can’t buy a good name even though it can buy a lot of stuff.
Yes, there is the issue of the children as O’Reilly explained.
“The pain it brings to my children is indescribable,” O’Reilly told the Times when it interviewed him about the reported $32 million settlement. “I would give up my life to protect my children, but I find myself unable to protect them because of things that are being said about me, their father.”
But the children will get over it, as long as they trust Dad’s words more than they trust the NYT. That’s where O’Reilly job is. His kids should trust him more, and if that is a problem , then he has some parenting homework to do.

Let’s assume that O’Reilly is innocent (at least until proven guilty even though he does wish to avoid litigation, to protect his children and his family from being taken to the grinders), instead of raging against God, he should act like other innocent men did when they found themselves persecuted unjustly. They accepted their trials as purification for their sins to better prepare for eternal life when the time came
The just man lives by faith, faith that all things work for good for those who love God. The vicarious atonement of the just man who accepts injustice without grumbling can merit the forgiveness of his own sin and that of others.
He should listen to what St. Josemaria Escriva, a man who suffered great injustice from many people for many years tells us: Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you.”





  The media should be consistent :Weinstein sex scandal

22 10 2017

The media’s excoriation of Harvey Weinstein, a movie producer, for his taking advantage of women  is at best self contradictory.
Everyone knows the tons of pornographic filth churned out each year;  so called blockbusters, glorified by the media that  has gone on to win Oscars.
These movies exult marital infidelities, scandals, defamations, divorce, lying, cheating… at times, perverse ‘lifestyles’ are ‘aired out’ to attract public curiosity though without any attempt to treat the subject on a moral plane.  These films have done grave damage to society’s morals. Consequently today many have lost or are losing their sense of sin and sense of God.
The dismal list of sexual abuse by respected public figures like Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, are only the first rumble of a volcano in full eruption.

What about college campuses? What goes on in there are unspeakable! The chronic sexual assaults happening on daily basis testify that when unnatural behaviors contrary to divine laws are treated as the norm in films, on television, in the press, common sense, decency and nobility vanishes in society

As Peter Maurin said, “A good society is one that makes it easy for its citizens to be good. And a bad society is one that makes it easy to be bad.”

The media and Hollywood has made it incredibly tough for citizens to be good. There are over 2000 registered companies in the US alone that produces adult movies and millions of porn websites available on smart phones at the touch of the screen

All I am saying is that the media should be consistent!
It’s unreasonable and unjust to glamorize adultery and fornication on screen and turn-around and scowl when men live out these dreams.
Why pretend to be shocked? People are what they watch or in the case of Weinstein, what they do?
Perhaps, the London motion picture Academy did right by stripping Weinstein of his fellowship but, it should also strip itself, because it shares a part in the problem.





10 Lessons on How  to Save  Your Family 

1 09 2017


Opening our eyes, we can see that the family in serious crisis. This being the case, as followers of Christ and defenders of the Domestic Church—the family—let us launch a concerted effort to save our children, save our young, by the means of saving our families. Pessimism, cynicism, and skepticism must not reign in our hearts, but rather confidence and hope that we can help construct a better world by striving for better, more holy families.

Therefore, we would like to offer Ten Vitamins to Vitalize Families. By this we mean to offer ten concrete suggestions to help all of us purify, improve, and perfect our families. Saint Pope John Paul II expressed this truth so clearly: The family is the basic building block of society… and… As the family goes, so goes the society. Hopefully these suggestions will truly make a difference in your struggle to form a good family. Never forget the consoling words of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary that we read in the Annunciation: Nothing is impossible with God.

1. Family Prayer

One of the primary reasons for fights, quarrels, bitterness, coldness, and eventually separations is the lack of prayer in the family. What oxygen is to the lungs, so prayer is to the soul. Prayer should be at the very center and heart of family life. Remember the words of the famous Rosary-priest, Father Patrick Peyton: The family that prays together, stays together.

2. The Father as Head of the Family

When possible, the Father must be the head of the family; the Mother should be the very heart of the family. A family without a head is a Frankenstein; a family without a heart is dead. May the Father assume the role of Spiritual Leader of the family! If you like, the Father should be the priest of the family. This means, the Father should say Yes to life. The Father should love his wife and children. The Father should be the spiritual leader of the family and this means the leader in the prayer life of his family. The most splendid example for the Father should be the best of Fathers, good Saint Joseph!

3. Forgiveness and Mercy

In many families coldness, indifference, and even bitterness permeate the entire family fabric. Why? One of the reasons is due to a lack of forgiveness. Family members must be merciful and forgive, and not just seven times, but seventy times seven times—meaning always! If we want to be forgiven, then we must forgive from our hearts. The Our Father commands this: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

4. Winning and Victorious Words
The British poet, Alexander Pope penned these words: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Family members, cultivating true humility of heart, must learn to say these words: “I am sorry…” and equally important: “I forgive you!” These words said often and with humility of heart can save families!

5. Servant Attitude

Jesus, Son of the living God, washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper. He Himself stated: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve and give His life in ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28) Each and every individual family member must not look to be served, but to be always ready to serve the other members in the family. Love and service are really synonymous.

6. Express Graditude

Even though it is small, and at times, seems to be almost insignificant, these two words can add a condiment to the family recipe, and these two words are Thank you! Saint Ignatius of Loyola asserted: “ The essence of sin is ingratitude.” Cultivate in your families an attitude of gratitude! In sum, what do we have that we have not received from God? Only one thing: our sins—these we chose for ourselves. God loves a humble and grateful heart!
7. Take a Break From Gadgets

A key time in family life must be the meal time. Normally it is when the family connects, comes together to share experiences, to spend time with each other, to bond with each other, in a word, to grow in love with each other. Our Lord’s Last Commandment was: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)
There is a comic strip with a family all sitting together on the same big couch. The Father is watching TV, the mother is on her tablet, the son is playing a computer game on his laptop, the teenage daughter is sending a text from her phone, and the family dog has earphones on. We laugh at this, but we also weep, because we can see our own family in this comic strip. Therefore remember, at meal times—even though it might be a mere 20-25 minutes—no phones, tablet, computer, radio nor TV. Each person has infinite value, and their soul being immortal will live forever; the computer screen and all other electronic gadgets will come and go and be disposed of!
8. Learn to Listen

How hard the art of listening really is, especially with family members. We all tend to be in the fast-lane, frenetically rushing from one activity to the next like a chicken with it’s head cut off. As such we fail to listen attentively when a family member wants to talk to us. I invite all to seek out Harry Chapin’s song Cats in the Cradle. In short, this song woefully mourns the sad fact that Fathers never really connect with their children because they are simply too busy! Son, I will listen to you, but later… Later never becomes a reality; then it is beyond his grasp!

9. Celebration

The famous Catholic author Jean Vanier, who founded a group working most especially with the handicapped, and with forming families with handicapped members, made this discovery: families are called to celebrate!

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and many more—all are festive and exuberant moments of celebration in the context of the family. We should celebrate the other in the family —especially their birthday, Baptism, and saint day! Therefore, if you want to inject a good dose of joy in your family, get in the habit of celebrating! Saint Paul exhorts us in these words: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again: Rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4)
10. Marian Consecration

In my retreats, I have often presented an efficacious means to arrive at the very Heart of Jesus. This is done by spending about a month meditating upon the 20 mysteries of the Rosary, with a helpful commentary for each, followed by a meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, each with a commentary. At the end of these days of preparation for consecration, all the members of the family will formally consecrate themselves, individually and as a family, to Jesus through Mary. Our Lady will then be at the very heart of their family. Our Lady will produce abundant fruits in their family: peace, joy, love, happiness, sharing, understanding, patience, purity, meekness, kindness. In a word, by consecration to Jesus through Mary, families will become sanctuaries of true holiness as Jesus commanded: Be holy, as your heavenly Father is holy. (Mt 5:48)

You can lead your family in such a retreat with my guide, Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary.

I am convinced that if families truly allow Mary to take root in the center of their lives, she will help their lives be turned from water into wine, and will truly be able to live out the greatest commandment of Jesus: Love one another as I have loved you! (Jn 13:34) I hope and pray that all will take these Ten Vitamins to Vitalize and form vibrant and holy families!

by Fr. Ed Broom, catholicexchange.com August 29, 2017





 It’s not worth the risk

22 08 2017

condoms

I had a chance encounter with someone at the swimming pool recently that got me thinking. He works for a foreign NGO that deals with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa.

“We go around educating people with the illness about the importance of taking their drugs,” he said.

“Why is that necessary?” I asked, wondering why someone living with AIDS would need an agency to remind him to take his drugs.

“They are ashamed,” he replied, “there is a strong stigma attached to AIDS in this country and people simply do not want to be identified or known as having AIDS.”

“I can understand that,” I said.

“Yes.  So, even though we are offering the drugs free, yet people don’t want to come forward to collect them. Many people are living in suicidal denial

“Human beings are very complex,” I said.

“But do you have preventive program as well?” I asked.

“Yes, we promote the use of condoms.”

“Are you aware of the claims that condoms are not foolproof, some even have holes big enough for Aids viruses to easily pass through?

“That has not been scientifically verified,” he countered.

I smiled.

“But I am sure you aware from experience perhaps, that fingernails can scratch holes through latex condoms?” I continued.

He smiled and began speaking truthfully.

“Yeah, you are right,” he said, “many of the condoms are even expired without the user’s knowledge. And many people don’t check expiry dates before putting them on if at all they do.”

“Sex is a passionate affair,” I said, “and in the heat of passion, people get carried away and become careless.”

He smiled. Looking cornered, he said, “In the absence of better solution, what else can we do?”

“But there is a better solution,” I said with another smile.

“Abstinence?” he asked.

I nodded.

 

“I know, but how many people can control themselves?” he scoffed.

”It is not easy I agree, but when you challenge people, they can do a lot. At least warn them of the dangers and educate them about the abstinence alternative.”

He nodded. There was a thoughtful look in his eyes.

I continued, “Consider for a moment how doctors and nurses wear gloves, and surgical masks and gowns when going in for a surgery. Compare that to the level of protection offered by a single condom. Besides, we are not talking about just HIV/AIDS; there is a host of other sexual and nonsexual transmitted diseases which can be transmitted during sexual acts.

He was silent.

“Plenty of different body fluids are exchanged during intercourse” I added.

“You are right,” he admitted again, “abstinence and mutual fidelity is the only prevention worth promoting. The stakes are two high, and it is not worth the risk of using a condom.”

We concluded and shook hands. He was an honest man and I left the pool feeling that I had made a friend.  I promised to send him an article I wrote many years ago on the “Bleak stories behind failed condom campaigns”

 

From the Editor

Chinwuba Iyizoba








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