1. How many years have you been married and how many kids do you have?
We have been married 14 years and have four sons.
2. Name three things that have helped you stay married this long.
-Authenticity. When we were dating, we both made an effort to be real, not put on a show. This helped us to know (more or less) what we were getting ahead of time.
-Humility. Though neither of us would describe ourselves as humble, we do both acknowledge that we make a lot of mistakes. That helps us to be more understanding of each other's mistakes and more forgiving.
-Putting God first. Although we have a long way to go, we try to put God and His will above everything else. That means we often have to let go of our preferences, our sleep, and our favorite pastimes for the benefit of the family.
3. What role has your faith played in your marriage?
We met on Single Catholics Online, so it's been a relationship based on faith from the start. At the time, Dan was working on a doctorate in Thomistic philosophy and Connie was writing a newsletter of Catholic apologetics. On our first date, Dan brought his breviary so we could pray Evening Prayer together. He started working for the Church fulltime two years into our marriage. Connie started writing about spirituality soon afterwards. In fact, Dan's first job with the Church was editor of the diocesan newspaper, and he asked Connie to submit a column. He didn't pay her anything, but she tries not to hold that against him!
Anyway, following the pattern of that first date, we have made a daily habit of praying Evening Prayer together, as well as the Rosary. We remind each other to take time for mental prayer. We often talk about the faith and the spiritual life. We both pray for each other and our children regularly. We make instructing them in the faith a priority.
4. What advice would you give people who are dating and considering marriage?
Be real with each other. Pretending to be someone you are not will only cause problems later. Commit to growing in your own faith, and as you make commitments to each other, make God the foundation of your relationship. Resist the culture of death and all its temptations--meaning temptations towards sexual activity outside of marriage. Save intimacy for the one you commit to lay down your life for in marriage. Let your gift of yourself to your spouse be total and exclusive.
5. What advice would you give newlyweds?
It's often hard to make sacrifices for one's spouse or children, but we have to always think about what is best for the other person and the family as a whole, not just what satisfies us personally at the moment. This doesn't mean you should let the other person trample on your dignity or make all the decisions. True love is the best of friendships. You each give up some things to help the other. Try to think about what you can do for the other person, rather than what he or she can do for you. You will both have to bend a lot in order to make your marriage work. If you do this, both spouses will have their needs met. This is the beauty of love.
Also, when you make mistakes, give yourself a break. We are all human. Give your spouse a break when he or she makes mistakes. Don't expect perfection of yourself or your spouse this side of Heaven.
6. What's your top parenting tip, or advice for couples who are trying to have children?
Our top parenting tip is to learn about the four classic temperaments and how each operates. This has really helped us tailor our parenting to each child, rather than expecting them all to fit one mold. And, yes, this is both a sincere answer and a plug for Connie's new book series on the subject. ;)
But even more basically than that, teach your children to pray! We believe strongly that we should teach our children not just vocal, recited prayers like the Guardian Angel Prayer, but how to begin praying to God from the heart. You can't teach this if you don't practice it yourself.