Man to man about marriage:

Siena's Grandpa 2


My husband George is an amazing spouse! We celebrate 35  years of happy marriage this week, so I invited him to offer advice to men about marriage. Here’s what he had to say:


  • A woman is a gift of great value to be treasured throughout your life. She is easily the most valuable gift you will ever receive on this earth, and must be treated with respect at all times.
  • Be cautious with criticizing her, even in private.
  • Never express disappointment about choosing her to be your partner, or comparing her to previous partners, or current acquaintances.
  • Never speak as though you’ve had enough, or would ever consider leaving her or ending the relationship.
  • When you’ve hurt her (or learned after the fact that you’ve hurt her), apologize. And mean it. Even if you have rationalizations in your head, just go with the apology. Try to understand why she was hurt, even if you don’t think that you would have been in the same situation. Only if you can do it without sounding antagonistic, ask her for advice on what you could have said or done differently to handle the situation.



  • Don’t ever talk about money as though it were ‘yours’. All money is ‘ours’ in the family, regardless of whose paycheck it comes from.
  • Never treat your job as more important than hers, whether you make more money than she does or not.
  • If she does take a traditional role in your family, such as at-home mom, remember that she’s doing this by choice for your good and the good of the family, not because she’s any less capable.
  • With your children, take care that they realize that her staying home or working away from home are options, and neither is an expected role for women.



  • Thank her for the normal things she does daily for you and the family. Even if you thank her every day for the same things. There should be several times each day when you acknowledge her efforts and thank her:
  • When you get up from a meal: “Thank you for dinner!” (And clear your place.)
  • When clean clothes appear in your drawers or closet: “Thanks for the clean clothes!” Or when there’s clean laundry on the bed to be folded: “Thanks for doing the laundry!” (Help fold them and put them away, at least your own items.)
  • New groceries in the fridge or cabinet: “Thanks for shopping for us!”
  • When you notice that a room looks especially nice, tell her so! (But avoid any comparison with past condition.)



  • Give her a generous hug, at least three times a day. Hold on to her as long as she wants.
  • A woman needs to be told that her looks please you. And she needs to hear it frequently. Never just count on her ‘knowing’ that you love how she looks all the time (even if you do). When you notice something nice about her clothes, or hair, or face (or figure!) or whatever, tell her she looks great, or pretty, or nice, or whatever you feel. But don’t force it, or make something up. This shouldn’t be hard; of course you love how she looks! And don’t compare to any previous time (you look better today than yesterday). And don’t say that she looks nice ‘today’ (possibly implying that she doesn’t on other days). But OK to say that she looks ‘especially nice today’.



  • Don’t tease her by saying something that isn’t true, or isn’t what you mean, as a joke. Don’t make her guess if what you say can reliably be taken at face value, or must be tested for believability before accepting it. It may be funny to you, but never is to her. It’s embarrassing to be made to feel stupid by believing something false that was said in jest.
  • Be cautious with other teasing, as well. Preferably don’t tease her about anything! Teasing is never nice, even if she seems to laugh, go along with it, and say that it’s OK. She could fear that there’s a grain of truth in whatever
    you’re teasing her about, whether there is or not (and there often is).
  • Talk with her! She loves talking with you, about anything (as long as you’re not the one doing all the talking).
  • Listen to her! And pay attention while you do. She needs to know that you’re hearing what she has to say. Ask her, every day, how her day went. And listen while looking at her, not while reading, or checking email, or watching TV. Remember that sometimes she just wants to be heard, and doesn’t want to you offer advice or try to ‘fix’ the things she tells you about. (But be sure that when she does ask you to fix something, you take it seriously!)
  • Learn how to disagree (and even express your anger) without raising your voice. A raised voice in a man is a danger signal to a woman. No matter how well she knows you, she may fear being physically or emotionally hurt.
  • If not done as part of your marriage preparation, realize that you likely have different methods of resolving conflicts, and that you now need to have a common method. It’s best to have some rules that you discuss when you’re not emotional.
  • Never try to make her feel stupid.


Family & Friends:

  • Women need family and relationships, much more so than you might. Don’t try to keep her from seeing or communicating with friends or family. And be sure to consider this strongly in decisions about where you’ll live or what job you’ll take.
  • Never complain about your wife to friends or family.
  • Never embarrass her in front of the children, or anyone.
  • Make an effort to compliment her in front of others, and say how proud you are of her, for whatever reason that you are. Or what you like about her, or why your treasure her.


The Future

  • Realize that you both brought dreams, goals, hopes, and desires to your relationship. Some of those now need to be subjugated to hers, and to the higher dreams and goals of the relationship. When you marry, you agree that your personal priorities will change to support your joint relationship. You don’t need to give up everything, just realize that some things may not be possible right away, and that some may no longer be appropriate.
  • Ask her what her dreams and goals are, and what she’d like to see in the relationship. And then, simply listen, and listen some more.


Betty here: Didn’t I tell you he is an amazing guy? Some of these recommendations come naturally to him and some we’ve learned the hard way, over the years.

Ladies, be careful how you show this to your husband so that he doesn’t feel criticized! Maybe instead, thank him for how he currently shows his love for you. Positive reinforcement goes a long way!

Blessings on your week!

The Best Version of Ourselves

Betty blue bordered (2)

Remember Matthew Kelly’s The Seven Levels of Intimacy I briefly listed two weeks ago? We spent a little time considering Level 4, Hopes and Dreams. Today I’d like us to talk about Level 7, Legitimate Needs. God gave us these needs as clues to help us thrive.

An ongoing theme in Kelly’s writing is his encouragement that we strive to become “the best version of ourselves.” To do so, we need to constantly grow in all four legitimate need areas:

  1. Physical – Eat well, exercise, sleep regularly. Let each decision we make in this area (and all areas) be tested by asking ourselves, “Will this (cupcake, walk, bedtime) make me a better version of myself?”
  2. Emotional – Give focus and priority to relationships. We talked about this last week in the concept of carefree timelessness. Spending time intended for simple enjoyment with the important people in our lives will enhance our relationships and bring us joy.
  3. Intellectual – We become what we read. As individuals and societies, we become the stories we listen to. What stories occupy your time? If you are like me, we access our stories on television, in the newspaper, in the books we read, and the time we spend online. Do these stories portray heroes we’d like to emulate? Kelly recommends we choose our inputs wisely and give at least ten minutes a day to reading great books.
  4. Spiritual – We spend particular focus on our spiritual growth during Lent. Yes, we may eat better, or exercise more as an attempt to be healthier, but these are disciplines we practice, and discipline is the road to growing spiritually. Kelly recommends we start our spiritual discipline with ten minutes per day spent in what he calls “the classroom of silence.”


When you stop to realize and truly believe that our God, who is All Powerful but also All Loving, yearns to have a one-on-one, face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationship with you, cares about you intimately, wants what is the very best for you, and would do and give everything toward that end, the experience of such intense love will light a spark within you. The spark will ignite a fire that is sometimes a warm glow and other times an encompassing inferno.

By human nature, even though we experience these moments of understanding when we are awed by the realization of God with us, before long we return to our mundane worries and cares. To counteract this and continue to grow in our relationship with God, we need to choose to keep returning to the awareness of his presence. To always be aware of God’s nearness is a wonderful goal but for now, let’s commit to drawing ourselves back to the spiritual with the discipline of setting aside time to refocus on God.

  • We can reconnect to the loving presence by many routes. We can turn our thoughts to prayer at any time or place, even at red lights while our cars and spirits idle.
  • We can inform our life decisions and our knowledge of God’s way by studying scripture and inspirational writing.
  • Together with our faith family, we avail ourselves of God’s graces together in the sacraments of the Church. Do you sometimes agree with your children who complain that church is boring? If so, pray before the service that God will show you one way to become a better version of yourself. Then listen to the songs, the readings, the homily, and the voice in your heart. One phrase will excite you. Write it down in a small journal and pray about it. You’ll be amazed at how the Spirit has been reaching out to you at every service and you didn’t notice.


This doesn’t need to be a lone pursuit. Focus on helping loved ones achieve their legitimate needs and you will grow closer to God and each other.


Homework: Commit to the discipline of ten minutes of attention daily to each of the four areas of legitimate needs. If that seems overwhelming, start with one and add another each week.


May God bless you and your willingness to work toward growth!



You can learn more about Matthew Kelly at






WordPress Themes