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.

We can’t deny that there is an abundance of negative talk and images out there today. Although there may be much truth in it all, we often miss that there is truly just as much, if not more, positive all around us.

Within all of the positivity, there are many opportunities for men and women to advance to new heights, far exceeding their own personal goals. However, during each new journey, contained in our relationships (marriage, engagement, dating, or friendships) there are times when opportunities present themselves for one of us and not yet for the other.

Here are a few ways to make sure we are maintaining a spirit of support and encouragement in our interactions with one another, no matter which side of the opportunity-fence you may be on.

Ask

Whether the opportunity to achieve one of your dreams has presented itself for you to take, or for your significant other, continue to ask if there is anything that you can do to be helpful to the other.

On the other side of that coin, if there is something you know you could use some help with, do not waste another minute – just say so!

Show Up

Too often, we look for times that are most convenient for us to engage. Come on – it just doesn’t work out that way, at least not all the time. In my experience, the times that someone else has needed my presence the most, I didn’t recognize its importance before I showed up. It also turns out that those times did just as much for myself as they did for my partner.

Stay Aware

A lot of the time we think we know how our partner is doing. However, we can be wrong! (I know… ouch.) So, if there is an event we can attend to show our support, be there! If there is a chance to find out in their own words how everything in their world (outside your relationship) is going, ask! And lastly, if there is something that they have not been able to get to and you see that it needs to be done, do it!

While these may seem to be obvious suggestions, they are often the most overlooked and underappreciated. So remember: Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)


If you enjoyed this post, we would be very grateful for your help spreading the word by emailing it to a friend, or share it on Facebook and like our page. Thank you! –Jamie D Smith, with The Marriage Group

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

When you take the ultimate commitment plunge – getting engaged, there are an increasing number of deep waterways you may have to navigate together. To name a few, there’s adjusting to your new relationship status, making decisions together, planning the wedding, and navigating your future in-laws. While every couple wants to enjoy this special time, you may need a few tips to keep your head above water:

This too shall pass

Your fiancé’s bad mood, the fact that someone messed up the booking for the wedding venue, bridesmaid drama, the pressure to find the perfect dress, the never-ending wedding costs – these are all temporary stressors and it’s important to remember that you will come out on the other side. Try not to lose perspective as things get stressful during the wedding planning, and make sure you come back to the most important thing: you have each other and that’s all you ever really wanted.

Don’t go to bed angry

Not just applicable during the engagement stage, for many, this is solid marital and life advice. Going to bed, refusing to speak to each other other, and retreating in anger is not going to solve anything. It’s okay to disagree or not come to a happily ever after ending, but you can’t let your anger fester when you both go to sleep for the night. Agree to disagree or call a temporary truce until you can re-visit the issue in the light of day.

Have alone time

Set boundaries and don’t allow yourselves to get too caught up in the early love stages of wanting to always be together, always be in the same room, or always talking to each other on the phone. It is important for you both to continue to foster your own sense of self, away from the relationship, as well as maintain other friendships outside of each other. Together, these personal activities allow you to both show up better as a person and as a partner.

Be open to change

It might be as simple as a change in the font on the wedding invitations, to something as big as making adjustments to your daily routines to accommodate each other and your families. Whatever the case is, the need to be open to change is a common theme as you embark on a new relationship, a new lifestyle, and something as big as planning a wedding. Start with small steps, by simply agreeing to be open to listening to new ideas. Gradually work up to adopting, offering, and embracing change. Remember that you are changing to become better people together than you were when you were apart.

Ultimately, marriage is designed to help you become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously helping someone else do the same. Don’t spoil this special time with silly fights over flowers and cake flavors. Instead, keep perspective of what’s important to enjoy your days as you prepare to spend the rest of your lives together.

‘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.

Social media is a wonderful tool to use for connecting with friends, family, and loved ones, who may not otherwise be able to connect. Along with that freedom comes a good deal of self-discipline to be able to use appropriately and responsibly, especially when in a committed relationship. Here are a few tips to help with staying committed in the social media age:

Everything Out in the Open.

In a healthy marriage, both parties should never feel as though they have anything to hide from each other.

To achieve this, the foundation of Love and Trust must first be built. That alone will begin to breed an atmosphere of a ‘judgement-free zone’, and will inevitably compel each other to be vulnerable with everything.

Practically speaking, a great start to a healthy, vulnerable marriage is to share your passwords to your respective social media accounts with each other.

Another is to leave your phones out in the open when you’re at home. Share your lock combination with each other if you have one (the only reason why I have one on my phone is so my kids don’t rack up thousands of dollars worth of in-app purchases!).

The respect that you have for each other is a two way street when it comes to these practices. If you feel like you have to hide anything from your spouse, especially when it comes down to messages, phone calls, and social media connections, then you need to talk about it. Regardless of if you’re participating in ill-intentioned activities or you’re not, the message you’re sending to your spouse is that you do not trust them with all your heart.

Another point that’s worth mentioning is that this is not intended to encourage ‘snooping’ or ‘spying’ on each other. That activity also indicates that there is a lack of trust.

When you leave ‘everything out in the open’, you’ll start to see additional benefits to your marriage. You’ll become less reliant on checking your phone every ten seconds, and you’ll actually be able to enjoy hanging out with each other with no distractions. This will also inevitably help build the foundation of Love and Trust.

Be Open and Clear About Boundaries and Expectations.

Clear, concise communication is a running theme here. Talk to each other.

If there are ever any red flags, or to be frank, if something just bothers you, talk about it. There’s no sense in letting something go on until you’re at a breaking point because you don’t want to offend your spouse. If your spouse loves you, truly loves you, he/she should make you feel as though you can tell him/her anything.

If you recognize you may start to have an issue, personally, or if your spouse recognizes a potential issue with social media, then it might be time to consider deleting your account. Your Facebook profile is not worth the potential threat to your marriage.

Every message I receive from the opposite sex is relayed to my wife, regardless of the content. My wife has never required me to do that, but I do that because I love her, and I have nothing to hide. She appreciates that because it isn’t required… Make sense?

You’re a team. Nobody should ever control the other. Come up with a strategy that is mutually beneficial for both of you.

Don’t Share Everything About Your Relationship to the Public.

Just don’t.

Your marriage is simply that: Your marriage. Nobody else needs to know about every little thing that happens within your marriage, especially if you just got done arguing about something. If you feel like you need to run to social media because you can’t deal with issues as a team, then you need to consider talking to your Priest or a professional marriage consultant that you both trust together.

Constantly running to someone else, or worse, a group of people without the consent of your spouse can lead to that feeling of separation, or emotional removal from each other.

Remember, you’re in this together, for better or for worse.

Beyond the potential arguments that occur within your marriage, you should also be able to keep some of the ‘date nights’, and other special moments you share with your spouse, as ‘just between us’ moments. Before the age of social media, there were no ‘selfies’ at the movie theater, or the ‘plate of food’ photos posted for all to see. Those were intimate moments shared exclusively between husband and wife.

Having those ‘just between us’ moments can also help with deeper levels of intimacy – physically and emotionally.

All in all, you just have to find out what’s best for you as a couple. Pray about these things with each other. Consult those that you trust who have ‘been there and done that’, and appear to have a strong and healthy marriage.