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For Your Marriage

Timothy and Donna have been married for over fifteen years after meeting in the gambling tent while volunteering at their parish carnival.

Comfort Zone

Timothy: I slipped my bare feet into a pair of shoes to take the dog for his walk around the yard one morning. This particular morning dawned with a half-foot of fresh snow and single digit temperatures. My wife was appalled. “You’ll get snow in your shoes!” she said, much like a police negotiator trying to convince some poor soul not to jump.

My dear wife and I have different climatological comfort zones. One summer, Donna was weeding her flower beds. The outside air temperature was somewhere between freshly flowing lava and the inside of one of those microwave pizza rolls! I would occasionally check on her by scraping the frost off a window and stare at her in disbelief from my refrigerated sanctuary. I must have looked like the Boy-in-the-Plastic-Bubble as she waved happily to me while tending her garden.

Donna: I’d like to think I didn’t sound quite that horrified, but I just can’t fathom going out into the snow with bare feet just shoved into any old shoes. I could never be comfortable without first swathing my feet in two pairs of socks before encasing them in my fur-lined boots.

My feet can be warm and comfortable with an extra pair of socks, but what happens if being comfortable is no longer comforting? There’s a saying, “if you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results.” When I was single, I had often wondered why I wasn’t meeting good Catholic men who were marriage and family minded. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, going to bars, and participating in civic events. It was comfortable and easy, but it had little to do with my faith and the future I wanted.

At Mass one Saturday evening, our pastor announced that they were short on help for the parish carnival that night. Anyone willing to cajole people into parting with their money was needed to work for a few hours in the gambling tent. Not exactly my thing, I tried to find a reason why I shouldn’t volunteer that night. I was a bit uneasy not knowing anybody who was going to be working there, but how hard could it be?

I was put to work at one of the booths spinning the “Lucky Number Wheel.” The people with whom I was working turned out to be a lot of fun. We started a bit of a rivalry with the booth across from us run by the men’s Renewal team. A tall, good looking blond man with a megaphone and glow-in-the-dark glasses continually tried to steal our players. One of the ladies in my booth kept egging me on to go talk with him, but at that moment I felt shy, awkward, and uncomfortable.

Finally, at the end of the night, I stopped at his booth and put down a few quarters. No matter what number the wheel spun, he just wouldn’t pick up my quarter! Yes, that good looking blond became my dear husband. Taking a chance, stepping beyond my comfort zone, led me to meet the love of my life!

Marriage has taught me quite a bit about getting out of my comfort zone. We were both in our thirties when we married and had lived on our own for quite a while. I think we were both used to doing things our own way. Routine is reassuring, but it can be stifling and limiting as well.

While we were still dating, Tim encouraged me to attend the renewal weekend at our church. It would be two days spent with women I didn’t know, listening to speakers, and faith sharing. That was just something I would never consider doing on my own.

However, I registered and showed up that Saturday morning. I was ready to bolt before it even got started. I carefully plotted out my exit strategy as I was extremely uncomfortable. Little by little, and talk by talk, I began to see that I needed to be there. In the afternoon, as we spent time before the Blessed Sacrament, I felt God’s presence in a way I had never before. That weekend turned out to be life changing for me!

I returned the favor a few years later. Tim had been reading, no, devouring, the works by our now favorite author, G.K. Chesterton. I read about a Chesterton conference that was being held roughly a five hour drive from our home and signed us up to participate. A long drive probably wasn’t high on his list of things he wanted to do, but Tim took the chance and went. We heard excellent speakers and met a lot of tremendous people, some with whom we continue to keep in touch. To top off the weekend, a photo Tim took was used for the cover of their next Gilbert Magazine.

Stepping beyond where we are comfortable can pay dividends many times over. Developing an appreciation for sitting quietly or getting actively involved can change you in ways you might never imagine.