For the second post in our series How to Stay Married 10 years & Then Some, we'd like to welcome the Gomez family. Pablo and Kristin are the godparents of our fifth child, Cecilia, because we couldn't imagine stronger prayer warriors for our daughter! Kristin actually guest posted for Can We Cana? earlier this year. Here are Kristin and Pablo's tips for living a long, happy, and holy marriage.
1. How many years have you been married and how many kids do you have?
We have been married 18 years and have 6 children, ages 3 to almost 16.
2. Name 3 things that have helped you to stay married this long.
Forgiveness, the Sacraments, and a sense of humor.
3. What role has your faith played in your marriage?
It has helped us always to remember that we are not in this alone...and that periods of suffering in our marriage can bring us, our family, and others redemption. It has made the permanence of the marriage a non-negotiable, which in turn makes the desire to make the marriage happy even greater -- because "the rest of our lives" (God willing) is a mighty long time!
4. What advice would you give people who are dating and considering marriage?
First, make sure that each of you believes in the permanence of marriage, has a healthy understanding that suffering comes for us all and need not be feared, and that each is open to life. Secondly, make sure you know how to communicate. Healthily. And if you do not, ..LEARN!! Read great books by Catholic and Christian therapists, saints, life coaches, specialists, etc. Surround yourself with couples that respect one another and model good communication -- and seek their wisdom with humility. Thirdly, make sure each of you can and does ask for forgiveness and knows how to forgive others. And finally, have a similar vision for what you see as a mission for your life. This, we believe, helps one to know oneself, which adds greatly to the happiness and harmony of the potential marriage. If your dating partner has a chunk of any of these fundamentals missing, we would say it is best to break it off, permanently or temporarily, to allow the areas of weakness to be identified and healed or strengthened before pursuing the relationship any further. This is not to say one should look for Mr. or Ms. Perfect, for they do not exist! But we feel these areas are crucial because a certain degree of health and mutual vision is necessary for a strong marriage. There are struggles in even a healthy, strong marriage, so it is best to have some of the fundamentals tied down first!
5. What advice would you give newlyweds?
Spend these first few months or years really getting to know the hopes and dreams of each other and those of your own! Delight in each other, but do not become TOO attached to the comforts and ease of a life pre-children as this can possibly lead to other difficulties later on. Try to make good couple friends who share your values and who have relationships you admire. Constantly seek to deepen your faith and your spiritual life -- try to use these years to develop a sense of how you will incorporate your faith and prayer lives into your marriage. And, again, enjoy getting to know each other, for this is just the beginning!
6. What advice would you give new parents or couples who are trying to have children?
Raising children is a large and weighty task -- and an intensely joyful and incredible experience and gift! We think most, if not all, people are still unprepared for the level of constant sacrifice that is asked of us once we are blessed with a baby -- and increasingly so with every new soul in our care. Our advice is to RECOGNIZE these difficulties for what they are -- blessings! To paraphrase a little of what we tell our children regarding work in general, do not be afraid or hesitant when faced with the intense work (of raising a family). Do not dread or try to avoid the challenging workload, for life in general is largely a life of work. Be glad and grateful that your workload is so noble, so tender, and so eternally rewarding. Be grateful that these children have you as their parents for you will give them the loving, secure home that so, so many children long for and will never know. Give until it hurts, as Mother Teresa says...and then give some more! "Do not fear " is our mantra when it comes to children -- whether in bearing them, birthing them, educating them, raising them up in the Faith, delighting in them, disciplining them, protecting them, forgiving (and seeking forgiveness from) them, nurturing them,or letting them go when it is time. It is all a plan that we are just one part of -- albeit an integral one.
In a nutshell, the bumper stickers are true! Babies ARE blessings! And, yes! Teenagers are too! Plus everything in between and thereafter! Savor the moments of childrearing! They DO go quickly!Expect to work hard, suffer much, laugh often, enjoy fully and push yourself to your physical, emotional, and spiritual limits on a daily basis! Family life is a beautiful path to heaven!
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