I’m super excited to introduce you today to a sweet new ebook about marriage written by a kind woman and mom of eight(!) kids. Her stories aren’t preachy, as most marriage resources can be. If anything, she wants readers to learn from her hits and her misses, and both my mom and I were smitten by the wealth of knowledge she shares.
I don’t often (if ever?) recommend marriage resources because marriage, to me, is one of those things that are best experienced. Therefore, I really only take marriage advice from my parents (married for over 30 years), Dr. Laura, and a few other wives online who’ve been married for decades.
But this marriage resource is different and so refreshing! It’s not filled with advice, but rather short tales of the highs and lows of a relatively young Catholic marriage. My only tip is: Try to have a clear schedule when you’re reading it because chances are you’ll want to read it all in one sitting!
If you think Catholics are dry and boring and one-sided and narrow-minded, you have not listened to the Catholic Channel on SiriousXM (>> NOT a paid endorsement). In fact, Lino Rulli is perhaps our favorite host on that channel. (If you don’t have SiriusXM, you can learn more about him here and listen to him here.)
Anyways, Hallie Lord, the author of the ebook I’m so excited to discuss with y’all today, was a frequent co-host of his before getting her own weekly show on the same station! She is also a mom of seven (with an eighth on the way!), a convert to Catholicism, and a very sweet woman. (Learn more about her here and listen to her here.)
This ebook that Hallie wrote, Let Love Win: Celebrating The Ups and Downs of Marriage, is a compilation of her posts on her old blog that talk about the good times and the bad times she and her husband Dan have experienced.
Even though her stories came from a blog, the book is more like a grouping of short essays. It’s that eloquent and beautiful and inspiring. And of course it’s made me tear up a few times. I highly recommend it if you’re engaged, recently married, or have been married for decades and want to be reminded that good marriages still exist, and that there are still women out there who enjoy praising (not trashing!) their husbands in public.
One of the reasons this book moved me so much is because it makes me think of my fiancé Chris, of us in ten, 20, 30+ years, and of what that journey will look like.
“Are You Really Ready for Marriage?”
The first passage that made me tear up was this one, from a section in which she’s reminiscing about a chat she had with their Priest before getting married because it’s made me think of the times we’ve met with our Priest to chat as part of our premarital course.
Anyways, Hallie and Dan’s Priest wanted to know if she was ready to for married life:
Did I understand that for all its unparalleled joy, our marriage would surely go through times of aridity; that marriages were ever growing and changing; and that truly great marriages were the ones comprised of two people who embraced sacrificial love? In an Academy Award worthy performance, I assured him I did.
Secretly, though? Well, it seemed to me that such things were perfectly fine for inferior couples but wouldn’t be necessary for a pair as in-sync as we were.
Next, check out this part about staying no matter what:
But by the simple, passive act of staying, I learned what wiser and more experienced couples could have told me but which I would have refused to believe until I’d experienced it myself: marriage is not always fun; there aren’t always rewards for your gifts of love; and ultimately profound self-sacrifice is the name of the game.
… Without these moments of marital aridity we’d never have the opportunity to choose love.
These passages reinforce what I’ve been fortunate enough to glimpse at from my parents’ successful and ongoing decades-old marriage: It’s difficult. But it’s also OH, SO GOOD.
It wasn’t until I saw that on paper (well, a screen) that it solidified in me what I’ve known to be true for a couple of years: And that’s that it’s Chris whom I look forward to spending those “dry” times with, to struggle with.
I want to struggle with him.
We’ve hit rough patches, sure. But we always come out stronger on the other end, and I can honestly say that he’s a dreamboat not because of how he is when things are great (although he is a dream come true when they are), but how he is when things aren’t so great.
Sounds weird, huh? I look forward to struggling with him. But I honestly do. I mean I don’t look forward to struggling, per se, but if and when I do, I want him as my rock, and for me to be his. And for us to choose both love and sacrifice every day to overcome those challenges:
In God’s plan, there’s meant to be a resurrection for every crucifixion.
According to Hallie, couples who follow the Christian model of marriage don’t “stay in the valley interminably,” and I think it’s important we’re sure that the person with whom we’ll be spending the rest of our lives is well-suited to join us on those struggles and blessings. It’s a wonderful thing to know that your future spouse is THE one who’ll truly be there always.
I’ve seen this with my parents and I’m excited I get to start my own version of that in a few months.
In Hallie’s words,
There is nothing as passionate as knowing with absolute certainty that your husband will have a firm grasp on your hand, through good times and through bad, until death do you part.
Another part of her story that made me teary-eyed is when her whole family got Scarlet Fever and seemingly-fine Dan took the lead (remember, seven kids) while she got to rest and get better. Later that day he took their sons to the ER, and once they returned, the boys announced that the doctor concluded their dad had been “the sickest.”
This part got to me because my dad is JUST like this. Even when he’s not feeling great, he’ll never pout, complain, or want to rest: He’ll always take the lead and do what’s needed. I’m blessed that although I don’t know Chris as a dad, I know he’d be like this as well.
Husband Shamers, Be Gone
This was one of my favorite parts. You could say that one of the underlying themes of Hallie’s book is her never-ending admiration for her husband. And shouldn’t that be one of the underlying themes in every wife’s life?
Put another way, PLEASE DON’T TRASH YOUR HUSBANDS IN PUBLIC. My mom has taught me that whatever is between a man and his wife or their family shall stay between their family. That’s because a man’s family is his haven, and if he can’t trust it because his wife will tell her Facebook about his X, or his kids will make fun of his Y, then WHO can he trust? A man needs to be respected, cherished, and valued–neither of which happen when he’s publicly shamed.
We can’t stand women who mention even one defect their man has in public. That’s none of our business, right? Plus, it shows they don’t respect him or else they’d let him shine in other people’s eyes. But once everyone else knows he’s imperfect, what good is it for him to show himself anywhere if she’s already devalued him significantly?
Hallie says something along those lines, but more gently, more kindly. I was a bit more frank.
She also argues for the importance of having a confidante who wants your marriage to succeed but who can lend an unbiased ear in case you need a “pressure-release valve.” For your sanity’s sake, sure, confide in someone like that. But for the love of God, DON’T confide in your dozens of friends on social media, PTA, or book club!
Don’t worry, I won’t write a full book review!
I thought I should let you read the rest of the book for yourself instead of summarizing the whole thing (as good as it is!). I’d keep going because that’s also how I retain things better, but I really think you’ll enjoy it A WHOLE LOT so I’ll leave you to it!
If you’re getting married or have been married for a while, you owe it to yourself to read this book!
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What important marriage lessons have you learned from couples who’ve been married for longer than you have?
You, sweet friends, are incredibly strong and brave and I love you. I just really, really love you.
Yes, this was a completely non-sponsored discussion.