When history repeats, choose freedom

We remember sitting with a young couple who were locked in combat. She was prone to reactive outbursts and he was mystified as to what he was doing to trigger it. As we probed her on her family of origin the penny dropped; she was repeating a relationship pattern that she had established with her…

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How can I make your day better?

I read a blog post recently from a husband who brought his marriage back from the brink with this one simple, daily habit. Each morning he asked his wife: how can I make your day better? The wife was suspicious at first and deliberately gave him tedious and demanding tasks, like cleaning out the garage,…

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Love in the Waiting

Advent is the season of waiting; we wait in anticipation of the coming of Christ. But are we the only ones doing the waiting? I (Francine) was hurrying to get out the door for 7am Mass. I looked at the time on the car clock and sighed in defeat: 6:58. There was no way I’d…

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The Passion Principle

One of the great delights of running marriage enrichment retreats for couples, is hearing all the amazing love stories. From beginning to end, every one of them has mystery, radical self-sacrifice and epic persistence in some capacity. We often joke that our own love story is more akin to a soap opera than real life…

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Perfectly imperfect marriages

Despite the promises of Hollywood and fairytales, the perfect marriage is the one that helps us grow the most. And that’s not likely to be a marriage without hardship or trouble. Yesterday, as we were preparing to run a training session later on, we had ‘one’. An argument of sorts. It was more like a ‘splat’…

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Romance and Mystery

One of the things that makes a new romance so exciting and attractive is the element of uncertainty: Is this person really interested in me? Will this person really be the one I’ve longed for? We can all relate to the thrill of the start-up relationship where the other is essentially still a stranger and…

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How to Forgive More Easily

We remember those long nights in the first year of our marriage. In the infancy of his career, Byron was often late home from work as he juggled the demands on his time. Initially, Francine was so grateful when he finally arrived that she didn’t register the hurt that his lateness caused. Over time and…

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The Daily ‘I do’ When You’d Rather Not

At a recent business conference, a speaker made an offhand remark about having to recommit to her marriage vows every day. It was in the context of a discussion about the challenges of change management and how reforming a company culture requires persistence and recommitment in the face of setbacks and resistance. It was an…

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A Little Restraint Goes a Long Way

It happens all the time – one of us does or says something and it triggers a harsh reaction. To break the habit of reactivity, try this mindfulness tool to develop the virtue of restraint. While often associated with Buddhist meditation, Mindfulness has in fact been a feature of many religions under different names, including…

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The Power of Ritual

Some years ago, we attended a Smart Marriages conference in the United States. One of the most memorable inputs was from Dr Bill Doherty, a family therapist and author. Over dinner, he engaged the audience in telling stories about their relationship rituals, before unpacking how rituals work to strengthen marriages. It confirmed for us some…

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