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From the Editors

With Easter only 2 weeks away we’re looking forward to some extra time to catch up with each other. If you’re looking for some inspiration for a couple project, click the link from our feature article and don’t forget to leave a comment with your own tips and ideas!

In Faith and Love,

Francine & Byron Pirola
Directors | Marriage Resource Centre

Making Fun is Serious Business

By Francine & Byron Pirola Projects might seem indulgent and merely cute but perhaps they serve a deeper purpose.

Counselors and educators often talk about the importance of fun in a marriage. For those of us raising families, couple fun is one of the first casualties in the busy family schedule. Enter the Couple Project! –  a great way to put fun back on the agenda with these multiple benefits:

  1. Time together. This is so important many marriage counsellors will demand their ‘recovering’ couples prioritise time together, up to 15 hours a week. This can be daunting to the estranged couple and here’s where a couple project can help; you don’t need to rack your brains trying to think of something to do with your couple time.
  2. Recreational companionship is one of the most common love needs and also one of the best divorce-proofing strategies. Too many spouses stray from their marriage because they are attracted to someone else who shares their interest at work or in a particular hobby. Being able to share a recreational interest helps protect your affections from seeking someone else’s attention.
  3. Projects that challenge us and throw up obstacles such that we really have to apply ourselves to succeed, help us grow in our own skills and virtues – all things that can be put to work in building a better relationship.
  4. Joint projects help develop our team building skills and enhance our sense of being on the same team. Like protective padding, these experiences give our relationship layers of resilience that help us resist the negative impact of future challenges.
  5. And at the end of the project, when we look upon our joint accomplishment with pride and satisfaction, we inherit a veritable treasure trove of stories and memories from which we can draw encouragement. These memories provide ample fodder so that we can brag about our spouse’s tenacity and cleverness with real conviction.

Finding a Joint Project

Many couples discover love through a shared interest like hiking, cooking, travelling, ball room dancing, astronomy to name a few. Some of these shared interests are difficult to sustain when children come along, but many couples have successfully translated their hobbies to family-friendly versions. Our new interest in hang gliding, for example, was surrendered for the less risky scuba diving when we began our family. Both gave us the nature fix that we love.

Similarly, some couples build their recreation around a cause or ministry. When undertaken by only one in the marriage these projects can be resented especially if they are time consuming or expensive. When a cause is shared as a couple project, not only does it bring two instead of one to the service of the community, it helps us build a truly meaningful legacy. Our work in SmartLoving over twenty years in supporting marriages has become a cause that has the added benefit of keeping us up to date with the latest tips and tricks in fostering our own marriage.

But don’t be limited by these ideas … for some outrageous examples of couple projects, read our blog on the topic.

Our recent BreakThrough Workshop was another successful event run by our fantastic presenting couple, Bernard and Anne Ellis. There were 25 participants and such a great response to the content and practical strategies provided.

We are always looking for couples who would like to host a similar event in their parish. If you are interested or would like further information, you can call our office on 02 9319 6280.

Weekly Podcast by Francine & Byron Pirola

Tune in to Wollongong’s weekly Catholic radio show, The Journey on Pulse 94.1FM every Sunday from 11am, to hear a variety of Catholic speakers including Fran & Byron Pirola.

Or, listen to their individual 2 minute podcasts for their bite sized pieces of weekly wisdom.

 From the blog

Video: From Bump to Buzz | A video gone viral: a husband sings to his wife as her baby bump grows.

Porn Isn’t Harmless For Either Those Watching Or Partaking | Originally posted on Exposing the Truth, by Michael Thomas, this article is an eye opener of the reality of the porn industry, taking you behind the scenes into the lives of the women involved.

For Better is Important too | Research from the positive psychology field has demonstrated that the way spouses respond to positive events is possibly even more important to marital satisfaction than how they respond in tough times…

Sex: for pleasure or life-giving love? | The cultural view of sex is that it’s just a recreational activity which means other duties take priority over love making. However, sex is so much more than ‘just another thing to do’ – it is a type of communication.

Movie Marriages | Can movie marriages help real life couples with their relationships? A recent study says yes!

Climax Problems | It is important to liberate ourselves from the stereotypical thinking which judges successful sex solely on the orgasmic outcomes. If we focus on sex as a communication between husband and wife, there can be less pressure on ‘achieving’ a particular result.

Natural Fertility – The Vision | Unlike secular marriage, Catholic couples are called to a radical lifestyle of total self-giving to each other; a lifestyle that goes against many of the expectations of our contemporary society…

Video: The Manslater | A humorous video advertising a device that promises to save a man in need of help understanding his wife!

Intentional Intercourse | All couples need to find creative ways of dealing with the inevitable periods of abstinence. Some couples use times of planned abstinence for non-genital ways of expressing their love and passion for each other, focusing on emotional and verbal intimacy.

A Marriage-Based Lenten Plan | 3 Ways to incorporate Lent in your marriage

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New Resource: The Genius Project


A four-part DVD resource with personal and group study guides, the Genius Project extends a life-changing invitation to every woman. Based upon Pope John Paul II’s teaching of the feminine genius. It’s an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery, a journey into the deeper meaning of your existence and your purpose in life:

Thinking of a gift for your friends or family?

Whether they’re celebrating an anniversary or getting engaged, our gift vouchers are a perfect experience they’re sure to love!

Take advantage of this years sale price of the Marriage Seminar at only $125 for a weekend event (includes meals). Purchase : here

The SmartLoving Engaged course is valued at $275. It’s the perfect engagement or wedding gift that will be used for the rest of their married lives. Purchase : here

 SmartLoving @ Home

A series of DIY sessions you can use at home or in a small group. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can download the file at the time of purchase and use the material on your computer, mobile device or make a print copy.

SL@Home Grateful

Grateful | When gratitude is present in a marriage, the couple’s good humour and welcoming generosity make their homes places of hospitality and warmth for all their visitors.

Responsible Honesty | It’s more than not telling lies; in marriage it requires an willingness to share deeply and vulnerably.

Sexuality as Gift | Learning to appreciate our sexuality and build the sexual atmosphere between us.

The Ambitious Couple | What is the role of ambition in marriage?

Hear Me Know Me | It is often said that we cannot love what we do not know.

SL Marriage Seminar

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About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

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