When it comes to any date, it’s pretty safe to say that we all like to be impressed by the other, and we like to be impressive as well. Truthfully though, don’t most of us simply appreciate a romantic effort most times, leaving the pricey extravagance for a random, extra special occasion? Well?

At no time should a night out break your budget, but we can understand the occasional splurge. Here is just a sample of a few of our favorite affordable dates, specifically with a lower cost in mind, yet ideas that are full of heart.

Breakfast!

I’ve got to start with one of my faves. Whether being picked up or you’re picking up your date early in the morning–to go to a favorite place to watch the sunrise, then off to a quaint breakfast spot, it sounds incredibly romantic. It’s a sweet way to start both of your days.

Window Shopping

Taking a nice long walk through a happenin’ downtown area of your hometown or neighboring city is a wonderful way to learn more about his or her likes and interests. It’s also a good way to scope out the local favorite delicatessens and bakeries.

Picnics

Since you just took a delightful walk through town, and now know where you can pick up a light lunch or just a coffee and a sweet-treat, you’re all set to go relax in the park or maybe sit alongside the boardwalk–if you’re lucky enough to live by the water. Perfect places for more fun, yet, intimate conversations.

Just A Drive…

For the cost of a little gasoline to fill your car–a ride up and down the coast or through the most scenic countryside can create some of the fondest memories, which can last a lifetime.

This list could go on-and-on, and I am certainly looking forward to that. We would love to hear about YOUR favorite, most romantic dates that cost you little to no money–only priceless time you spent with that special someone. Let us know by commenting here, or message us on Facebook or Instagram!

When a Catholic and a non-Catholic marry one another, obvious differences in doctrine, worship, or personal piety inevitably lead to tension. So how can an ecumenical marriage thrive?

You were drawn to this person in particular, not their religion in general.

A few years ago, Annie and Stephen met while dancing like fools at a friend’s wedding. As time went on they bonded as fools for Christ, she a Catholic and he a Protestant. Despite denominational differences, they both cared about healing the world, finding joy in every day, and earnestly doing the will of God. Last year they were married, and sharing their life in marriage has only intensified their common commitments.

We aren’t always attracted to people in our churches. Religious compatibility and marital compatibility are two different things. Even spouses of the same religion enter into a marriage because this particular person helps the other become holy.

No matter how much religion unites us, we must also remember that every person’s prayer life is radically unique. Each of us has a mysterious relationship with God that no one else can ever enter into. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect, and greet each other.”

Your denomination is an adjective, not a noun.

Fundamentally, we are all Christians. “Catholic”, “Protestant,” “Orthodox,” or any other denominational names just specify what kind of Christian we are. Often we assume we have different faiths rather than different expressions of the same faith. But long before spouses had any kind of romantic commitment, they were already committed to one another through a common baptism.

Within a healthy marriage the man and woman both make up what the other lacks: the same goes for an ecumenical marriage. The spontaneity of Stephen’s Protestant background enlivens Annie’s contemplative Catholic piety, just as much as Stephen finds groundedness in the order and symbolism of Annie’s Mass. Each tradition has something to give to the other.

Getting involved in each other’s communities especially helps unite spouses if one cannot participate fully in the other’s liturgy. Helping with coffee hour, weekday Bible studies, or volunteer events help everyone set aside denominational differences in order to grow together as Christians.

Resist the desire to change the other person.

Annie and Stephan, photo courtesy of Caedy Convis Photography

Stephen said that whenever the phrase “I wish you would just…” comes into his head, he kills it immediately. Often ecumenical spouses entertain fantasies that this spouse will enter RCIA and receive communion with the rest of the family, or that this spouse will embrace the other’s style of worship. But do we really want the other person to grow, or do we just want them converted to our way of doing things?

You can’t build a relationship with someone you’re trying to fix. Don’t enter an ecumenical marriage with a chip on your shoulder or a passion for apologetics. Remember, marriage exists for your salvation and healing—you’re the one who needs to change.

Ecumenical marriages thrive for the same reasons any marriage thrives.

We aren’t supposed to run from difficulties, but nor should we shrug and belittle them. “It pains us to talk about this, because these are real struggles for us,” Stephen said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone,” said Annie, “unless it’s the will of God.” No matter the religion, all spouses need to hear the other person out, set aside their preoccupations or anxieties, and be sure that, as Annie says, “this is what God wants for us.”

Article contributed by Thomas Whitman. Photography by Caedy Convis Photography.

Money is one of the most common causes of friction during the first year of marriage. When you first enter into a union it is important to discuss money matters, but you might be wondering: what kind of personal finances should I bring up?

Your ideas on investment are definitely worthy of discussion. If you have dreams of investing in properties over the years or even own real estate investments, be sure to discuss this up with your partner before you start a family. Here’s a quick guide to handling this sometimes friction-filled topic.

Start Slow

When you enter into a discussion about property investments, be sure to start things out slowly. Though you may have been interested in real estate and passive income for years, your spouse may not be as well versed as you are in the regulations of buy to lets, mortgages or the fluctuations of base rates for instance. Or, visa-versa — your spouse could know a great deal more than you and have tons of experience.

Either way, if the topic is new between you, start the discussion in a pressure-free way. Instead of presenting a property you want to buy out of the blue, start talking about friends who own and rent out properties, and see what your spouse has to say. Tell stories and keep the conversation light.

Be Honest

Honesty is essential between couples. Foster trust in your marriage by never with-holding information, which is a passive way of lying. Tell the truth by speaking about your experiences, hopes, and thoughts on the topics that are important to you.

For example, once you have established a dialogue about real estate investment, you might need to bring up the fact that you once owned a property and sold it for a profit, and that you hope to do it again. Your hopes involve your partner because you are now a team, so be sure to include them in your statement. You might want to say something like, “I would love to look at properties to invest in again one day in the future, if you are interested and on board.”

Listen To Your Spouses Concerns

Your spouse may have concerns about property investment. This could be a fear that you aren’t interested in buying real estate for investment purposes, and want to invest in other places or not invest at all. Or, his or her concern could also be about your wish to invest in property.

Your spouse will appreciate being heard. Take the time to listen to his or her concerns. You don’t even need to respond right away. Just give them space to speak what is on their mind.

Money is a charged subject, and each partner will bring a unique viewpoint into the marriage. This is one of the benefits of coming together as a couple! Learn from each other when it comes to challenging topics such as property investment and make wise decisions as a team. Start slow, be honest and open, and take the time to listen to your spouse.

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor

Marriage has a long history, originating before written records, possibly during the Stone Age. However, as cultural norms shift, so too has the definition and nature of marriage. It wasn’t until the fall of the Romans that the Catholic Church elevated marriage to a holy sacrament. Unlike these early forms of marriage, couples now marry based on love. However, the last 50 years has seen the institution decline, with divorce rates up. This makes marriage counselling more important than ever. Here’s how marriage has evolved over the last century.

1960s

79% of over 18s were married during the 60s and these marriages tended to happen at a young age. The average groom was 23, while the average bride was just 20. The role of women growing up in the 40s/50s was to become a mother and homemaker.

While marriage was still a union based on love, it was also an essential provider of income for women. The divorce rate in 1960 was only 22%. However, attitudes towards marriage were starting to shift and in 1967, divorce laws were relaxed, which began an upward trend in marital problems. This is why the role of marriage coaching has become more important in the last few decades.

1980s

The 1960s sparked a cultural revolution, with the rise of feminism and sex positivity. By the 1980s, body shapes were changing, due to a change in lifestyle habits such as eating and exercise. By the end of the 80s, the average groom was now 26 and the average bride was 23.

Despite a tendency to marry later in life, divorce rates continued to climb to over 50%. The institution of marriage was still popular, however, being the basis of a strong family unit and a majority of US residents dreaming about their wedding day. The role of the couple was also changing, with men spending more time with children and women spending more time at work.

2000s

Despite a clear decline in marriage rates over time, the divorce rate dropped between 2013 and 2016, while marriage rates increased. However, as the role of husband and wife change, it is important that couples use coaching to better understand each other, being open about what they want from a marriage.

3.5% of married men are now stay at home dads, up from less than 2% in the 1970s. Furthermore, in 2015, the definition of marriage was changed once more to allow same sex marriages throughout the United States. Marriage has become more diverse, meaning that couples need to work harder to understand what their union means to them and how they can become a better spouse.

Married couples are regularly surveyed to be both happier and wealthier than single couples, even if only half over 18s are now married. The average age for a groom is now 29 and for a bride, it’s 27.

Marriage is a constantly evolving institution. The liberation of women has changed the roles of couples, but marriage continues to be a significant part of our society. Thanks to advances in marriage coaching, the divorce rate is starting to decline again, but we should recognize that each couple is on a unique journey and require a bespoke solution to marital issues.

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor

‘For richer, for poorer’…. it’s right there in the traditional marriage vows, but how many of us consider the consequences of actually living it out in the real world? The sad statistic is that up to 50% of marriages end in divorce, with finances (or lack of them) being a major cause of marital disharmony.

Feeling The Financial Strain

In a marriage where only one spouse is working there is often financial strain: sometimes the stress comes through the loss of a job and unemployment; even if the choice is a conscious one of only having one person working so that the other can stay home to raise children, it can still be hard.

After all, at the end of the day it still means less income for the family.

In either situation, the key is often a mindset shift: a mom may not be working outside of the home, but she is still bringing something equally important to the table. A father may have lost his job, but he is spending his days looking for the next opportunity – they are both working hard, just not in the traditional sense.

Communication Is Key

The key to marital harmony in so many ways is often good communication – and it’s no different when dealing with finances.

It’s a good idea to sit down together and agree on a plan and a budget. What’s right for one family won’t work for another – for some a ‘household’ account that a stay-at-home-mom is in charge of would be perfect, others see this as too limiting, and prefer one general account that both partners spend from. You may want to work out a ‘blow’ budget for each spouse – once the household bills and savings are taken care of, each person gets half of the remaining amount to do as they please. This can work particularly well if one person is a saver and one is a spender, as there’s no resentment for one person spending their cash monthly whilst the other saves up for a larger purchase.

Do What You Can With What You Have

If finances are a strain with only one parent in work (for whatever reason), then it is a good idea to make sure you are getting all the financial help you are entitled to – this will vary by state, so make sure to check your local government website. Think outside the box too – there are creative ways you can earn a little extra money from home, from taking online surveys to selling unwanted or outgrown items on eBay, any of which can be fitted in around nap times or school runs, giving a little extra wiggle room in the budget.

Your Family, Your Rules

Remember that what works for one family will not be right for another – communicate well, make a plan, ensure you are getting all the help you are entitled to, and think creatively to ensure the family finances are in good shape to help keep your marriage strong.

 

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor

The newlywed period is an exciting time – not only are you still coming down from the buzz of your wedding and all its associated events, you are also getting to know your partner as husband and wife. While this time can be blissful, it can also be a time of adjustment, as you realize that living with someone else and sharing your life with them consists of some give and take. Here are six ways to adjust your expectations and have a fulfilling marriage.

1. Accommodate your spouse’s habits and living style

You’ve had multiple conversations with your spouse about what’s important to each of you. Now that you are living together, it is up to you to make accommodations based on how your spouse lives. Maybe they are a neat freak and like everything in its place – this means you need to figure out how to become more organized and do your part to tidy up. Maybe they need quiet in the morning until they’ve had their coffee – this means that you need to leave important conversations for after dinner.

2. Put your finances together

Money is the #1 topic that couples fight about and for good reason. There is never a relationship where couples make exactly the same money or spend in the same ways. With your expectations already set, now is the time to pool your finances together, open up joint accounts and actively each take part in paying the bills.

3. Decide on who does what

If money is the first topic couples argue about, housework and care of the children comes a close second. Rather than hope and wait for your partner to pick up their socks or do the dishes, have a conversation early in the marriage to decide on who will do what jobs around your home and within your marriage. Studies show that rather than making it a 50/50 split, partners should do the jobs they are best at.

4. Find ways to communicate openly and easily

After having all of these important conversations, it is best if you can figure out a way to keep the conversations open. Like anything, things will change and new things will pop up and as a couple, you need to have a way that you can communicate without fear of judgement or anger. Decide how this will happen in the first months of your marriage.

5. Learn to be selfless

One of the biggest adjustments a person who is newly married will have to make is to be less selfish and more selfless. As a single person, it was easy to think about what you want and only that, but as a partner in a life-long relationship, you need to consider the needs and wants of your partner daily. Rather than make decisions based on your own desires, always think about what they would want first.

6. Realize you are on the same team

Many arguments in a marriage happen because couples have a me vs. you mentality. As a married couple, you are on the same team and have the same goal: to have a fulfilling marriage. Once you realize you are on the same team, only then will you find it easier to get along with your partner.