Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Matt C. Abbott

3/6/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One of the most important things that I learned was the nature of happiness. Indeed, I think that without a sound understanding of what happiness is, a person will be frustrated in finding happiness whether or not he is married

What my wife and I did on that day, I had seen done countless times before in movies and in reality. In exchanging vows, we had done what our parents and grandparents had done, following innumerable generations before. In taking the vows, we became husband and wife; we were married. Although I knew something about the nature of marriage, I did not realize at twenty-two how much more I had to learn. Although I now realize how much more I still have to learn, in this book, I write about what I wish I had known-or had known more clearly-on that bright day in 1992.

Highlights

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/6/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Seven Myths About Marriage, Carmel Communications, Matt C. Abbott, Ignatius, Marriage, Happiness, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, Jennifer Kaczor


CHICAGO,IL (Catholic Online) -The following is a brief interview with Dr. Christopher Kaczor, author of The Seven Big Myths about Marriage. Below the interview is an excerpt from the book's introduction. Thanks to Dr. Kaczor for taking the time to answer my questions; to Kevin Wandra of Carmel Communications for facilitating the interview; and to Ignatius Press for giving me permission to publish the excerpt. Click here to order a copy of the book directly from the publisher.

*****

What inspired you to write The Seven Big Myths about Marriage?
 
Dr. Kaczor: In my very first job as a professor in New Orleans, the chair of the philosophy department, the Jesuit Father Al Holloway, came to me in 1999 and asked me to teach a course called "The Ethics of Love and Marriage." He told me the previous instructor of this course had left, but the students enjoyed it a lot. So I inherited his syllabus and taught the course.

Over the years, I've continued to teach the course, adding and changing things along the way, and I've gotten a very positive response from my students. I thought in writing a book, I could share what I was teaching with a much larger audience. My wife Jennifer helped the project immensely by including several of her very funny stories, and one sad story, from our marriage. Her stories add a lot to the book.

What would you say is the biggest obstacle to a successful marriage in the present day?

Dr. Kaczor: I think one obstacle, a myth I talk about, is that a marriage is ruined, or you should get divorced, if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. The truth is that all couples have irreconcilable differences, including happy couples. 

How do you think the clergy and laity should deal with the sensitive moral issues of contraception (within marriage), infertility and divorce?

Dr. Kaczor: These are very difficult issues for many people. I'd say it is best to emphasize the positive; for example, the good of procreation, the good of working at your marriage. Also, it is important to note that we are all imperfect; but despite our weaknesses and shortcomings, God loves us all and calls us to growth and development so we can find deeper happiness. 

There's a recent article about the rising U.S. divorce rate and the supposedly strengthening economy (click here to read it). What are your thoughts on this article?

Dr. Kaczor: Marriage and economics are related in some interesting ways. Sometimes people stay in a marriage because of external constraints such as that they cannot afford to leave. I think a better motivation is the knowledge that many troubled marriages-if people stick with them-later return to a better condition. Also relevant is the fact that in marriage a commitment was made, which is relevant for making good ethical choices.

--------------------------------------

INTRODUCTION

Happiness and Identity

My wife Jennifer likes to keep it real:


My husband and I were a little late to the home-buying party. Specifically, we had been married for almost twenty years when we could finally, kind of, sort of, if we stopped feeding the kids, afford to buy a house. And so we did. We took everything we had, quite of bit of what other people had, and a lot of what the government promised, and we bought a house. I wish we had not.

The list of things I am not allowed to buy anymore is overwhelming in its detail and its scope. It starts with clothes and haircuts, and ends in the emergency room. I do have enough premium denim to last me a good solid year, and with spring on the way I can count on Mother Nature to help me in the highlights department. I am not looking for sympathy on those accounts. This weekend I cut fourteen year-old Caroline's hair (she cried for only a few hours afterward), and I now buzz the boys' hair myself.

But it gets worse. "No more fast food", my husband informed me. "Even when I'm running kids between two, three, four different athletic events?" I whined. "Nope", he said. "Plan ahead." Darn. Okay, fast food is bad for the kids anyway, and if I cannot slap together a few PB&J sandwiches at this point in my career, I cannot really call myself a mother. Fine. I'll live.

Now, I realize, reader, that if you have stayed with me this far, you are beginning to be disgusted. "This woman is a baby", you are thinking. "Fast food and premium denim?" you are muttering to yourself. "There are some folks in Haiti that I would like to introduce her to." Yes, yes, I know. I myself am somewhat embarrassed. But two things, reader, two things.

First, it gets worse. Stay with me. Second-and you are not going to like this-I challenge you to give your spending a once-over and see how you rate. I am not going to push; I am just saying . . . People spend thousands on quack nutritionists, and I do not see anyone attacking them. Apparently, paying some weirdo to diagnose imaginary digestive problems is fine, but wanting to look your best in the latest fashions is hedonistic.

Anyway, when we still could not make ends meet with the peanut butter and jelly, my husband informed me, by way of turning off my reading light, that we would be giving up electricity. "What!" I bellowed. "I am the only mother anywhere in America who doesn't own a cell phone, and now I have to give up reading!" "Just for a year or so," he said, "until my income increases." "Well . . . urrgh", I said to the dark form next to me.

In the morning, by way of natural light, I resumed my reading. It is like living in Bill Gates' opposite world. I read somewhere that his house is so smart that as his lovely wife moves from room to room, her music, lighting, and television move from room to room with her. Not only is my house not as smart as Bill Gates', but neither is my husband. First, he does not wait until I leave a room to turn off the light, preferring, instead, to flip the switch in anticipation of my leaving the room at some theoretical time in the future. "I'm tying my shoes!" I scream from behind the wardrobe, only to hear back, "Wear slip-ons."

But one night we reached an apex, and I think I made my point. As I was cautiously feeling my way down a pitch-black hallway, I stumbled over a folded mat and went head over heels, landing on my you-know-what. "Ow!" I screamed. "This has to stop!" Chris and the kids felt their way through their various dark rooms until they found me in the hallway. Risking foreclosure, Chris turned on the light and helped me up. "The idea", he said, "is that you turn on the light when you enter a room, and turn it off when you leave. The math is really very simple."

"Yes, it is", I said. "Even a straightforward divorce is expensive, but one complicated by negligent injury claims could cost you the house." And then, of course, because he is such a good man and takes such good care of our family, I apologized, turned off the light, and lightly kissed him while the kids all yelled, "Eww!"

The gritty, nonglamorous, everyday reality of marriage is known only once one has become married-indeed, only once one has been married for a while. It is that reality that my wife Jennifer captures so well.

But how did this all begin? Let me recall another memory. The year was 1992, and I was at Saint James Cathedral in Seattle. The tuxedo fit fine, but the rented shoes were a little big. I stood in front of the altar, and next to me stood a stunning woman in a white dress. My five closest guy friends were on my right. Her five closest girlfriends were on her left. In the middle, before us, was a priest, the pastor of the cathedral, Father Michael G. Ryan, whom I had known since childhood. Along with 350 of our friends and family, he would witness the most important commitment I would ever make. I tried to stand up as straight as I could, for I knew that everyone in the place was looking at and listening to me.

Taking Jennifer's hands in mine, I spoke loudly and clearly, "I, Christopher, take you, Jennifer, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life." After a moment of silence, she, in a softer voice, said to me, "I, Jennifer, take you, Christopher, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."

What my wife and I did on that day, I had seen done countless times before in movies and in reality. In exchanging vows, we had done what our parents and grandparents had done, following innumerable generations before. In taking the vows, we became husband and wife; we were married. Although I knew something about the nature of marriage, I did not realize at twenty-two how much more I had to learn. Although I now realize how much more I still have to learn, in this book, I write about what I wish I had known-or had known more clearly-on that bright day in 1992.

One of the most important things that I learned was the nature of happiness. Indeed, I think that without a sound understanding of what happiness is, a person will be frustrated in finding happiness whether or not he is married. We all want to be happy. Every day, in whatever we do, we seek this goal-one that we share with every other person on the planet. Many people seek marriage because they believe that marriage or their spouse will make them happy. But will it?

To answer this question, it is necessary to examine happiness. What exactly is happiness? How can we find it? What really helps us to become happy, and what does not matter much at all? The answers that we give to these questions make a great deal of difference for our vision of what marriage is. Indeed, the way we live our lives answers these questions and determines the kinds of persons we become..

-----

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

The Prophetic Dream of Don Bosco and the Leadership of the Pope

Image of The saint saw the Church as a great Ship of Peter surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels. They were engaged in intense warfare. At the helm of the Church was the Pope who at one point in a fierce battle fell mortally wounded. The enemies of the Church closed in sensing this was their moment. In the vision two columns then emerged from the great ocean

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. Visions use symbols to communicate. They often have numerous applications and interpretations. We have been blessed with successors of Peter who are steering Christ's Church through those two columns, ... continue reading


For the first time in 100 years, Yosemite National Park hosts extremely rare sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox Watch

Image of For the first time in 100 years, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in the Yosemite National Park.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the first confirmed sighting in nearly 100 years, the rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been captured with motion-sensitive cameras in the Yosemite National Park. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red ... continue reading


Disaffected Colorado teenager who tried to join ISIS gets four years in prison Watch

Image of After serving four years in prison, 19-year-old Shannon Conley must spend three years of supervised release and serve community service.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Poor choices made in youthful hast have consequences. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Conley, from Colorado has been sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. At the heart of this disturbing story is an Internet romance that went ... continue reading


Coin collectors of the world eagerly line up to see 1822 Half Eagle at convention Watch

Image of Historically, nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. As the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

One of the rarest coins in the U.S., the 1822 Half Eagle, originally worth only $5, will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend. There are only three of the coins known still in existence. The coin will go on ... continue reading


California's Kern County declares state of FISCAL EMERGENCY with plunging gas prices Watch

Image of Supervisors adopted a plan to immediately begin scaling back county spending rather than making deep reductions all at once in July.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kern County, in central California, relies heavily on its petroleum industry for tax revenues. While motorists nationwide are currently enjoying lower gas prices, this spells certain disaster for the County of Kern - officials there have declared a fiscal ... continue reading


Could terrorists attempt to attack the White House with a drone? Crash sparks debate over future use of drones in war Watch

Image of A small, four propeller drone, crashed on the White House lawn, spurring a discussion on whether drones may be used by terrorist groups in the future.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A two-foot-long, four propeller drone crashed onto the White House grounds yesterday, raising troubling questions that drones could be utilized by terrorists or other potential murderers to attack the White House or other U.S. government institutions that have ... continue reading


The Thrill of the Chaste: Matt C. Abbott Interviews Dawn Eden Watch

Image of Dawn Eden, author of the highly-acclaimed My Peace I Give You and the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

By Matt C. Abbott

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the ... continue reading


GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 18:15-20
15 Yahweh your God will raise up a prophet like me; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
1 Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh, acclaim ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:21-28
21 They went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:32-35
32 I should like you to have your minds free from all ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 1st, 2015 Image

St. Brigid of Ireland
February 1: Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter