by Leane VanderPutten

“You do have a choice in how your life plays out. Some of you are fighting your present situation and making no more progress than someone fighting quicksand. You fight your husband, and every verbal punch you land leaves a bruise on you as well. It is time to stop struggling in strife, bitterness, frustration, and disappointment.

….As you have probably already discovered, you don’t just marry “the right man” and live happily ever after. Every man I know is a bona fide sinner. And, considering that you, too, are a selfish, fallen creature , it will take real effort to make a heavenly marriage. A good marriage, just like anything worthwhile, takes doing the right things every day… every hour… every moment.”  -D. Pearl

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These are very wise words.

Although I am not a marriage guru, I have had many victories (among the failures), and, in my humble opinion, the right things that we need to be doing every day are:

1. Prayer….I struggle with prayer. I think we all do.  I do know that it has to be the foundation of everything else in our lives. As St. Francis de Sales says, “If you haven’t got prayer, you haven’t got anything.” Consistency is important. We don’t necessarily have to add more prayers, but we need to work on making our prayers more heartfelt, with less self-inflicted distractions. We DO need to be saying the Family Rosary. The Consecration to Our Lady, St. Louis de Montfort style, is very, very valuable, too.

2. Nipping those negative and critical thoughts in the bud before they become monsters. Okay, you have probably tried the other way…you know, letting those destructive thoughts soak up all your brain cells? So….how does that feel? Does it make you feel good? Does it build your relationship with your husband? Do you find that your kids act better while you are steaming about their father’s inadequacies?? Of course not! Hey, you had better put a brake on those thoughts! You have no idea what a downward spiral that can be and where it can lead to. NOT worth it!! Say a prayer, an ejaculation. Thank God for little things. Get interested in something. Don’t let the crazy, lousy thoughts take hold…..Make the effort. God will bless you for it. This is no small thing….those little thoughts can become huge problems!

2. Reading good books on changing your own attitude….not books on how he should be treating you. This is important. You might pick up a relationship book. It may have great points on having a wonderful relationship. In this book it deals with men and women’s responsibilities to each other for making their marriage better….All good stuff. The only thing is, when you are already fighting some stinkin’ thinkin’ about your husband, you DO NOT need to be reading what he needs to be doing.

Choose books that deal with YOU, the woman….with your attitude. There are some very good books out there….albeit mostly Protestant but some Catholic, too (look on My Book List). There are many good books on attitude changers, too. Find them. Dig them up.

I’ve said it before, you can only change yourself.  And you need changing….we all do! Roll up your sleeves and get to it! Too much is at stake here.

3. Talking to the right people…By the right people, I mean those who will help you to shift your attitude…..not those who enable you to wallow in your self-pity more than you already are.

When I was frustrated and feeling sorry for myself, I went to my mother. Not because she was my mother (that was a nice perk, though) but for a couple of reasons…I didn’t want to air out my problems to just anyone. I knew in my heart that this was something that I had to get through, that his faults were exactly that, just faults, and I had plenty of my own. I didn’t need just anyone knowing all I was feeling at the time….because all those feelings were just passing.

The other reason I chose my mom is that she always, gently, helped me to see just what I had for a husband. She helped me to realize I had a lot to be thankful for. And this is what I wanted in a mentor….Someone that would help me to turn my thinking around when it was slipping down a dark alley way. I came out of those talks (and I only resorted to this type of outlet when I just felt I couldn’t overcome the lousy thoughts myself) refreshed. I had vented. I realized how small these things really were and I was ready to give of myself once again.

Find a mentor like that. Pray for one. They are worth their weight in gold.

Don’t abuse it though. Most of the work is going to be done by you. But every once in a while you may need someone to talk to. MAKE SURE it’s someone who is all for you, your spouse and your marriage!

4. Kick that No-Good-For-Nothing Self-Pity right out the door and into the lagoon!

Self-pity is a killer! It is a pond of scum that swallows any good thoughts that try to poke their way out of the filth. Don’t give in to it!!

Look at your life….I know you can find so many things to be grateful for. Keep bringing those persistent negative thoughts back to a spirit of thankfulness! It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel it. God will bless your efforts.

The beginning quote of this article says that a good marriage, like anything worthwhile, takes EFFORT, WORK, PRAYER!! It is a top priority. It means everything to the success of your family life.

Self-pity will strangle you and your loved ones quicker and with more efficacy than anything I know of. It is a woman’s worst enemy and woe to those who wallow in it. Thankfulness overcomes self-pity. Pray to Our Lady for a Spirit of Gratefulness.

Life is a great adventure! Every suffering, every failure, every knock-down, if taken with the right attitude, will help us to grow. We will teach our children how to overcome their own difficulties….and they will have plenty…just as we do.

It is what life is about….the Royal Road of the Cross. And if we choose to get better, not bitter, so many blessings and joys will be sprinkled throughout. We need to have our eyes open to them. They are God’s gift to us as we struggle along our own, unique path of a Beautiful, Joyful, Catholic Woman!!

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