Is a Five Year Marriage a sin?

The Five Year Marriage could be a sin, or at least be against the teachings of the Catholic Church. That’s according to “Rita” who teaches Catholic Pre-Cana Marriage Prep classes.
Rita read an advance copy of the book, Five Year Marriage. After she did, Rita and I had an interesting conversation during which she vigorously disagreed with the concept.

Citing the Theology of the Body, based on the teaching of Pope John Paul, Rita conceded that she found
a lot of “good stuff” outline in the Five Year Marriage process. Still, she insisted, “it’s the same thing you could do in a traditional marriage.”

In one way, Rita is correct. If people ran their traditional marriages like a Five Year Marriage, there would be fewer divorces.
However, the reality is this: THEY WON’T. Inherent in the Five Year Marriage, is something very seductive. Because it’s “until death do you part,” you can be easily seduced into thinking you have “forever” or “the rest of our lives” to solve
a problem or fix something that’s not working. So, when something is going wrong, it’s truly more comfortable to put it on the back burner.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t fix itself. Instead it gets worse, and the negativity around it festers. By the time that backburnered problem finds its way to the fore front, it’s like overcooked food. It’s too bad to eat and has to be thrown out.

The reality is that most human beings tend to do better with deadlines. Deadlines promote vision, stimulate action, and drive priorities and, as a result, push you out of your comfort zone and into your better version of yourself.

Part of the “magic” of the Five Year Marriage is that you are on a deadline. That isn’t going to make your marriage problem-proof. Nonetheless the deadline (and the commitment that created it) will foster a mindset that is more likely to make you proactive. At the same time, it will make you less likely to settle into relationship-killing complacency.

So, is the Five Year Marriage a sin or anti-Catholic/anti-Christian?

Marriage and Money: Are You on the Right Track?

Marital Finances are one of the most important parts of a marriage partnership. Marriage and money go hand in hand. If a couple works together and plays their cards right, marriage can often be a financial boon. The key is getting on the right track and staying there.

In a study done by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston University,  researchers found that married couples can enjoy greater financial well-being in the present. In addition, they will enjoy greater economic benefits in retirement.

One way of creating that financial benefit is through the Five Year Marriage. It promotes the building of your net worth because finances are discussed even before the first vows are taken. When contracting their Five Year Marriage, couples focus on shared values, money patterns and financial goals.

Using a preset preset timeframe (five years) couples have time for planning, implementing and evaluating their finances. Then, unlike traditional marriages, couples continue to assess their finances with considerations for life’s changes (children, houses, jobs, etc.). Every five years, couples adjust their lifestyle design based on life’s shifts and changes.

The Five Year Marriage is one substantive way to get on the right financial track – for the present and the future. You and your fiance or spouse can get started by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are your top ten values?
  • How many of those values do you share with your partner?
  • What are your current experiences with money?
  • How much debt do you have?
  • Are you a spender or a saver?
  • Is one of you better at handling money?
  • What are your financial goals for the next five years?

Once you have a feel for what your money habits are, you can create a plan that will satisfy your current needs. Then, and even while you adjust for life’s changes every five years, you can get your marital finances on a track that will enable you to save for your later years.

No Sound, No Fury, No Marriage

As I was reading author Laura Pritchett ‘s May 2016 article for the New York Times, I wondered: What would have happened if she has a Five Year Marriage?

In No Sound, No Fury, No Marriage, Ms. Pritchett described her twenty year marriage of silence. How could she have lived together with the same man and had a marriage of silence? I don’t know if I could have done it, but I know a lot of people have that or other incompatibilities in their marriages. Living together loneliness is a sad lifestyle that has a long-standing tradition through many, many generations.

But..WHY? Twenty years! Why does anyone give up so much of his or her life?

I recently had a conversation with another woman, Rita. She said she thinks that neither she nor her spouse were really ready when they got marriage. Except, Rita admitted, “I thought I was ready. I was twenty-five. It was time.”

What’s time got to do with it? Is it about biological clocks or the scourge of society toward singles or something else?

Marrying because of a non-nonsensical reason like “it’s time” reminds me of the idiom “marry in haste, repent at leisure.”

If Laura Pritchett lived a Five Year Marriage, she and her now-ex would have mixed it up from the beginning and gotten their differences out in the open. When they got to Chapter Five in the forthcoming book, the Five Year Marriage, they would have talked about their communication differences. Maybe they would have gotten therapy sooner. Maybe Laura would have seen her sweetheart as a good man, just not the right one for her. They might never have married each other. Instead, they might have found partners that were more compatible.

Why do we do spend more time planning a wedding than a marriage?

What do you think?


A Marriage Phrase that Pays?

Marriage Phrases that Pay

Is there such a thing as a marriage phrase that pays? Pays what? Pays in fostering more love, good feelings, a sense of partnership?

While we all like hearing “I Love You” in marriage, it might not be the most important thing you can tell your spouse.

In a Huffington Post article, reationships editor Kelsey Borrensen listed eleven “love” phrases are part of your love and marriage vocabulary?

#9 is one my spouse and I learned about twenty years ago. We often say it in jest, but when it fits, saying it has meaning and smooths our anger-based tensions.

Which one is your favorite or go-to phrase?

Money: One BIG Glitch

10941404_sBefore we got married last month, we worked out the main details of our new marriage. We revisited our values, took stock of our net worth, crafted a long-term view of the next ten+ years, and then focused on the specifics of our next Five Year Marriage.

The only think we didn’t do was figure out the money part.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t tried. We talked to our accountant first then saw a financial planner. If fact, we’ve seen a series of financial planners over the past ten years. We even hired one Ameriprise financial planner – but only for a brief period (during which time our IRAs stayed flat and she made money).

Earlier this year we talked to a financial planner, one who came with a referral, lots of credentials and copies of magazine articles in which she was featured. When we met I wanted to be sure she knew we wanted a financial planner not an investment counselor. I explained, “every planner we’ve talked to had “credentials” but, affiliated  or independent, not one of them created an actual financial plan. Instead, they each told us they would take our retirement accounts and invest them for us in stocks. That’s not a financial plan. So, if we’re paying you $1500 to figure out a financial plan, don’t give us an investment or savings plan.” I was neither nice nor mean, but extremely clear. She said she understood and wouldn’t do that with us. She would create an actual plan.

A while later we met with her again. She slide across the table a 500+ page tome.  Based on our goals, each section outlined different strategies with possible outcomes. Oddly enough, every single plan boiled down to nothing more than reconfiguring our IRAs and moving our savings into the stock market, where she would manage our stock portfolio. No real estate, no precious metals, no anything except the stock market.

Joseph and I were ticked off. I was a bit more – infuriated was more like how felt. I’m not sure what part of our meeting she thought didn’t violate my instructions. She did exactly what I asked her NOT to do, and with no valid explanation.  We left her office with $1500 less money and more furious than either of us could express. Not only did she lose all credibility, she lost a customer.

So, we’re back to square one with our finances. You might be in the same position. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

Here are three things I know for sure:

  1. Money is one of the top two reasons why couples break up. What you don’t know can hurt you. What some financial planner wants to do with your money may have more to do with the new car or the new kitchen in his/her future than your future life.
  2. No one is ever going to care about or take as good a care of your money or your future as you will; they won’t have to live your future, you will.
  3. You can only make a financial plan when you know the end game; maybe you don’t know the 50 year end-game but that’s one of the good things about the Five Year Marriage: you only have to know the Five Year end game.


So, as you put your Five Year Marriage plan together, figure out where you want to be at the end of five years. Do you want to be able to sell your house, buy a place at the beach, get an RV and travel the country? Maybe over the next five years you’ll be paying off school loans, saving for children’s tuitions or still paying child support or some other obligation from a previous marriage. Maybe the best you’ll be able to do is fund your IRAs or create an emergency or cushion fund. Whatever it is, know where you want to be at the end of five years. Then, WRITE IT DOWN, create a budget that will help you get there and revisit that goal and budget twice a year.

As you are making your Five Year plan, here are a some places you can look for some help:

Suze Orman’s Financial Advice for Couples
Smart Couples Finish Rich
Dave Ramsey’sBudget Forms
Dave Ramsey’s Advice to Newlyweds

NOTE: When you are making your five year plan, be sure to include how you will divide your assets if you decide not to continue your marriage at the end of five years.

Just Married!

Wedding #6 almost didn’t happen.

For months Joseph and I worked on planning the marriage. By late August, while we were on vacation, everything  was in place. We were excited about going forward together – again. But when it came to planning the wedding, we dragged our feet. It was early September and we had an intention and the celebrant, but we had no plan and no place to go. We started making calls.

Among the places we wanted to have our wedding was the world-renowned Longwood Gardens. They were clear from the first moment: they don’t allow weddings – even one as tiny as ours. There was also the Newman Center, West Chester University’s Catholic center for the students. Father Nordeman was receptive and very gracious. He said he could marry us after the daily 4:30pm mass. However, that meant the Reverend Pattie Painter, whose victory through multiple cancers is chronicled in Victorious Woman!, couldn’t do it. In the years since Victorious Woman was published, we’ve become friends, so Joseph and I really wanted Pattie to perform our ceremony.

Call after call, rejection after rejection untel, less than a week before our special day, Joseph called the Tyler Arboretum in Media PA. They couldn’t have been more welcoming. They told Joseph we could have our ceremony anywhere on the grounds.

Quickly we called the Reverend Pattie from Vows of the Heart. She was “on hold” for September 24 and waiting. She started preparing our ceremony, asking what special poems or writings we wanted. I asked for the Apache Wedding Blessing and Blessings for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman. We’ve used both of those at each of our weddings, so both are very special to us. We also chose the poem, Love by Roy Croft. It was Pattie’s suggestion but it sent chills up my spine because I first read that poem when I was a teenager. In those often-lonely days, I would read it often, telling myself that it was just the way I wanted love to feel. Who knew, so many years later, it would be just that…how I felt at my 6th wedding. Another tribute to the power of visioning!

It was Friday when we started calling special people and inviting them. Joseph called his twin, Tom. I talked to my cousin Maryann and asked if she and spouse, Richard, would join us; both of them are special to me and to Joseph. Joseph also called his friend, Pat, the widow of Danny, Joseph’s best man at our first wedding. Danny died suddenly, of a heart attack, shortly after his 50th birthday. Joseph still misses Danny and it was important to include Pat, whom he knew as long as he knew Danny. Maryann, Richard and Pat could make it.  Tom and his spouse Pat could not. It was pretty small group, but we love the people who were there and know they love us. And that’s what we wanted – a day filled with love.

OK, we had the celebrant, ceremony, location and guests. Joseph took his tux to the cleaners but I had nothing to wear. I looked through my closet and nothing seemed like the right thing for our SIXTH wedding. I started to panic.

Twenty-five years ago, there was no “online” to come to the rescue. I was glad this time there was! After about an hour online, looking only at places that had brick and mortar stores in my area, I found a purple lace dress I liked at Dress Barn. I called a local store and a really helpful woman said she’d look. When she got back on the phone, she was upbeat. “Yes, we just got that dress in and we have your size. Do you want me to put it on hold?” It was a happy moment – the dress I wanted, in my size, in a store near the Tyler Arboretum.

Our wedding day was coming together.

Next I called Maryann who agreed to join us to help us pick out a spot at the Arboretum. She lives around the corner from the gardens and has spent a lot of time there. I knew she’d have a good idea for the right spot. A shower and some breakfast later, Joseph and I were on our way.

First stop was Dress Barn. I tried on the dress and wasn’t sure it fit right. I tried on a few others, but they didn’t do the trick. So I tried the first dress on again and went looking for the saleswoman. As I did, I passed a customer who looked me up and down and said, “Ooooh, that looks beautiful!” OK, I was feeling a little better. I went back to the dressing room and looked again. I saw another saleswoman and asked her if she thought the dress fit right. She asked what I was wearing underneath. “Bra and panties,” I answered. She was shocked when she said, “No Spanx…no nothing?” She assured me that, once I put some foundations in place, the dress would fit beautifully. She was right.

Then we picked up Maryann and went to Tyler Arboretum. Maryann was a great guide and took us to different sections of the garden so we could think about how private it would be, how it would look for pictures, etc. The sun was shining everywhere and the setting was so peaceful. After about an hour we found the perfect place for us. It was a little cubby spot, full of greenery, on the side of one of the buildings.

On the way home, Joseph and I stopped at our favorite local Italian restaurant. We wanted to make sure we reserve just the right table for our “wedding reception.” We scored exactly the table we wanted!

We had just one last stop, to Charming Charlies, in search of “just the right accessories” for my dress. The good thing about Joseph is that he doesn’t just hang out in a corner being annoyed, he asked what I wanted (something that sparkled in the sunlight); he helped me find it.

When we got home, I had an email from Reverend Pattie. She’d written a beautiful ceremony. It included everything we wanted. She suggested that two of our guests do two of the readings. We loved the idea!

When Tuesday the 24th came, I left home early for some beautifying. On my way home, I stopped at Lorgus, our local florist. I talked to Mary and asked her if she could make a boutonniere for Joseph.  No problem. Then I slid in the request for a small bouquet for me. “When do you need it,” Mary asked, never expecting I would answer, “this afternoon.” I was thoroughly prepared for Mary to be annoyed and tell me I was crazy. She didn’t (though she did sort of roll her eyes).

Once she adjusted to the last-minute request, Mary took me around to the refrigerators and asked what I liked for color and style. I was ecstatic! I paid the bill, agreed to return in a couple hours and left. A few hours later, Joseph picked the flowers and, when I saw them, I couldn’t believe how perfectly Mary put together the just right bouquet for me.

It was mid-afternoon when we got to the arboretum. The sun was shining brightly and the weather was crisp and clear – a perfect fall day. When we got to the spot Joseph and I had chosen, and because I’m so used to be the speaker/workshop leader, I felt suddenly “lost” for what to do and had a moment of panic. Of course, I didn’t need to worry. With just a few words, Pattie took charge and got everything in place. Immediately I felt myself relaxing into her most capable hands.

While Joseph and I looked at each other, Pattie celebrated our love and commitment with the words she’d written. Maryann did a reading and so did Pat. Richard took pictures and so did Pattie’s spouse, Tom. Joseph and I wrote our own vows and said them. I surprised myself when I got choked up while reading mine to Joseph. The commitment two people make is always so intimate. I find that the longer Joseph and I are together, the more meaningful our commitments to each other are. I also think we are more and more grateful to be together, and grateful that we still choose each other.

Then, before we knew it, Joseph and I were married!

We popped open a bottle of bubbly, had a toast, and took pictures. Then we all headed to the restaurant to celebrate our new union. Being with people who are so special to us was a true blessing. The wine and scotch added to the sparkle. Also, Richard has a business relationship with the owner, so we got some extra-special treatment.

Then, all of a sudden – that fast – our wedding day was over. When we got home, we opened some gifts and cards and heard a precious email from our friend, Sue, who was traveling in California…and thought enough to call and leave a warm message.

Wedding #6 has very special memories with special people. But the most special part of the whole day was that Joseph and I chose each other…once again.

Marriage Partner or Employee?

Team of rock climbers.What do you want to be in your marriage – the partner or the employee? Don’t see how either one relates to your marriage?

Think of a good law firm. There are the partners and the employees. The employees include working attorneys, legal assistants, and administrative assistants. All of them work are expected to work hard because all of them perform different but important functions in the firm. However, only the partners make the major decisions that affect the company.

In your Five Year marriage, when you are negotiating or renegotiating your contract, you need to decide if you are going to be a partner or an employee.Partners have an equal say in how the marriage works. Being a partner intrinsically has more benefits, but it also carries a greater share of the risks.

In many marriages, some people like being marriage employees. They don’t mind not being an equal partner because they don’t want the responsibility. If something goes wrong, they can blame someone else. They can maintain a childlike naivete and, for some, it’s a kind of freedom.

While the choice to be a partner or an employee is always yours, there’s a price to be paid for that…and it’s usually your SELF. On the other hand, there’s more risk when you take the partner role but also more reward, most specifically in terms of the true intimacy that can bless a marriage.

Are you a marriage employee? If you are, maybe you chose to be an employee because it was easier, or it was role your parent modeled or you accepted the employee role unwittingly.

But now you’ve grown, or stepped into your personal power, or just got older and wiser. You want to make a change.

If you have been a marriage employee, and you want to change that role, the end of a Five Year Marriage is a good time to rethink what you want to do. If you stepped into the role of marriage partner but want it to be different, here are a couple questions:

  1. What would you have to be and do differently?
  2. What would your spouse have to change?
  3. Are you both willing to redefine your roles?
  4. How will you handle your new roles…especially when one of both of you unconsciously slip back into your old roles?