1. How many years have you been married and how many kids do you have?
We have been married 20 years this past May, and have three boys ages 18, 15 and 9. As friends during our undergraduate years, we were unexpectedly amazed to find each other so early in our lives. That day, I married my best friend and quite honestly I cannot imagine these years without his constant friendship, love, and strength.
2. Name three things that have helped you stay married this long.
At the top of this list has to be a strong faith life in prayer. In addition to attending mass we began by praying together at the close of each day. As we had children, this became a family prayer time where each of us lifts up our intentions and one another in prayer. Yet, over the years we find that we also join together to pray throughout the day. It could simply be a text, or the invitation to say a decade or two of the rosary together. “Where two or more are gathered in my name” truly has special significance in our lives.
Secondly, we have found it vital to support one another through life’s challenges as well as to fully celebrate life’s gifts. In those moments when I’ve been given an overly demanding day, or sleep and serenity elude me, I know he’s there to listen and lend a hand. Conversely, when one of us has good news we appreciate that we have been called to joyfully share in it. I’d venture to say that we are each other’s biggest fan!
Finally, communication is not just important but essential to both of us. This goes past daily pleasantries - so often requiring persistence, patience and desire. Whether big or small, we always try to include one another in the decision making process. Even when we disagree, we strive to never go to sleep angry.
3. What role has your faith played in your marriage?
From the beginning, marriage has been for us a lifetime commitment to a shared journey of intimate friendship. And while there are twists, turns, and speed bumps on this path, there are no viable exits. There is, however, a Guide who knows the terrain, holds the map, provides rest and sees the big picture. Faith for us requires trust- not only in each other but in God to see us though the difficult times.
The year my youngest was born, I had lost my grandmother and later my mom to cancer. My husband, then an Army helicopter pilot, was shortly thereafter sent orders to be deployed to Iraq for an indefinite time. Through the many tears I found God right beside me, and peace came in trusting Him through the chaos. Not to be disappointed, God brought John home safely and much sooner than expected.
4. What advice would you give people who are dating and considering marriage?
Spend time to really get to know the person you love. While it’s not necessary to spend as great an amount of time as we did, really examine if you are compatible. It’s important to seriously consider if you can truly live with one another’s flaws. Jokingly, today my husband says that we can truthfully say that we successfully survived a 2 year interview process during our engagement!
5. What advice would you give newlyweds?
Love God and put God first in your marriage. Following the greatest commandment to, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). Yet, what does this really look like? Simply put, it means making space and time to talk to and spend time with God in your everyday- seeking Him in all that you do. If you can do this, you increasingly realize that you are capable of expressing even more love in all your other relationships. More than comfortable with coming in second, it is in fact one of the things we love most about each other.
6. What's your top parenting tip, or advice for couples who are trying to have children?
Elizabeth: For me, it’s patience and forgiveness. Highly desired and but sometimes lacking, patience I believe is needed both in conceiving and raising children. I have come to recognize over the years that God’s timing is not necessarily my own. Hand in hand with forgiveness, patience is what God shows me as time and time again I slip and he gently picks me up.
John: My advice for parenting is consistency. Consistently loving, but taking a steadfast and predictable course. Our children can faithfully depend on the fact that each decision has been carefully weighed, and made in their best interest. It is being able to say no when their eyes plead yes, because you want so much more for them. This is indeed a gift that they will value later in life!