SL eNews June 2014

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From the Editors

It’s all very busy here at SmartLoving! Next week, we are heading to Malaysia to train 50 new couples for the Engaged programme. We’re also in the middle of re-filming the course which should be ready by September. In addition, there will be a BreakThrough Workshop in Wagga and a Marriage Seminar in London next weekend.

Keep us in your prayers!

In Faith and Love,

Francine & Byron Pirola
Directors | Marriage Resource Centre

Feature Article: Making a change for the better

By Francine & Byron Pirola

Making a Change

Change is difficult. It can also be complicated. Despite our best intentions, sustained change often eludes us. We’ve had many spouses tell us that their husband or wife promised to change and things were good for a while but then there was a relapse. Their good intentions were not enough to sustain their energy for change.

So what can you do when you really need a change to stick? The most basic starting point is to work out what really needs to change. It sounds obvious, but sometimes we focus on the wrong things to change and so the results are disappointing which in turn undermines our motivation.

Is there a healthy way?

Consider David who is in the habit of getting a bit crude and insulting after a few too many drinks. After an embarrassing social event in which his wife stormed out, he is filled with remorse and promises he’ll never do that again. For a month, everything is fine. His wife starts to feel that maybe this time it will last, then there’s another devastating blowout.

Instead of promising to hold his tongue, if David looked at what was happening to him before he started talking crudely, he’d get a better insight into the kind of change that will work. In this case, alcohol is a contributor but that’s not the main problem. If he examined why he drinks to excess, he would discover that it happens when he feels inadequate, like after the boss has chewed him out or his father has criticized him. David would have more success holding his tongue if he found a healthier way of dealing with his emotions of inadequacy, such as learning how to assert himself appropriately with his father and boss. Then he’d feel stronger and less powerless when things go badly with the boss or his dad.

Seeing things in a new light

Let’s take another example; Sharon chronically nags and undermines her husband which leads him to withdraw and emotionally shutdown. She resolves to cease her nagging criticism. For the first few days she consciously bites her tongue when under the impulse to nag. She manages to refrain from saying the critical words, but her whole demeanor and body language is conveying her meaning just as effectively. Her husband continues to withdraw under the assault of her passive aggressive attitude. She concludes the situation is hopeless – no matter what she does, her husband is unreformable (so much for trying to change herself).

Instead, Sharon needs to change her attitude rather than her behaviour. If she starts to think about her husband differently, consciously suspending judgment and searching out his more noble qualities on which to focus, rather than obsessing about his weaker points, her attitude towards him will shift and her intended behaviour will follow more easily. She’ll start to see his goodness more and his shortcomings less, which makes it easier to quit the nagging.

Changing behaviours without addressing the underlying attitudes will seldom work. Whatever personal change you want to see in your marriage, remember: if you want the change to endure, start with a change in attitude before you tackle a change in behaviour.


The BreakThrough Workshop focuses on debunking myths about marriage and providing information helpful to those in stressed or ‘gridlocked’ marriages. We have been delighted to receive overwhelming responses from participants on the content and practical strategies provided.

This weekend Mark & Jenny Mannering will be hosting the Workshop in Wagga Wagga. Book in now to secure your place

If you would like to host an event in their parish or would like further information, you can call our office on 02 9319 6280.

From the blog

Partner Selection | Many people drift into dating and sometimes stay too long before they realise the person they’re with is not compatible for marriage. So what should you look for when choosing a partner?

Marriage or Matrimony? | People call a lot of relationships ‘marriage’. Everything from cohabitation (common law marriage) to civil contracts (secular marriage) to the Judeo-Christian concept of covenant. So what’s the difference between matrimony and marriage?

Novena to Wed | Novenas are powerful prayers, but should we be using them to discern marriage?

87 year Marriage | Their marriage broke a world record, but their secret is simple. An interview with the couple who were married for 87 years and their insights on how to make a marriage last.

Video: Look Up | A powerful reminder to truly connect with people on a human level and leave the distractions behind.

The shortest summary of TOB ever! | Want to know the basics of the Theology of the Body? Agi Reefman gives a quick summary what you need to know!

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.

Radio Spots

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.

To get all the SmartLoving Blog posts, follow us below, or sign up for the Free eBook to join our mailing list: here

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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.

CathFamily eMagazine

First Communion
June 2014 | Sacrament Essentials: First Eucharist 
Practical tips for preparing your child to receive the Lord

 SL Marriage Seminar



Marriage Seminars
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Marriage Workshop – BreakThrough
Engage Mentoring
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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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