After Mary and John Rindone started giving Catholic marriage talks several years ago, they found themselves getting into more arguments, not fewer.
One of their daughters confidently offered this explanation: “God wants you to be real up there.”
If a recent interview with this New Berlin couple is any indication, the Rindones have no trouble sharing their real day-to-day challenges and solutions as well as the central role their faith plays in their marriage.
“It makes people feel not alone – what they go through is ‘normal,’” Mary said. “We’re not speakers because we have it all together.”
The Rindones, both 50, recently shared their “Marriage Myth Busters” as part of the archdiocesan-sponsored Destination Marriage series that continues this spring. The parents of five daughters and two sons ages 25 to 12, the Holy Apostles parishioners will celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary in June.
What myths do they take on?
“Wives, be submissive to your husbands.” This well-known verse from St. Paul’s letters to the Colossians (3:18) and Ephesians (5:22) causes many a nudge from husband to wife in the pew when it comes up in Sunday readings, John said. Husbands instead should focus on loving their wives as Christ loves the church. If men can be Christ-like in that respect – serving their wives and families – wives will respond in a positive fashion.
“Love is a feeling.” This cultural myth is out of whack with reality, John said. Noting that marriage vows that require love cannot survive on a feeling of love. “Love doesn’t change. Love is a decision. Your marriage becomes trying to live that every single day.” One way to demonstrative this is through good deeds, he said.
“It’s all about the money.” Men and women who leave their spouse name money and spending issues as their top source of disagreement, John said. But the disagreement isn’t so much about money as it is about an inability to see a spouse’s perspective on the purpose and proper use of money.
“We still struggle with it all the time,” John said. For example, he said, he is more “miserly” and inclined to save a dollar whenever possible, while Mary wants to use money wisely to build up their family and sometimes that means, for example, paying to attend a special event together.
“We’re not ready for kids.” So many people feel they are ready for marriage, but balk at the idea of children.
“Just because we don’t know how this can be doesn’t mean God hasn’t already figured this out,” Mary said. The couple encourages other couples to be open to God’s will. “Marriage is life giving.”
“Fighting is bad.” Like many couples they talk to, Mary and John have found they have some opposite tendencies that attracted them to one other. Disagreements are inevitable. Mary’s practice is to step away from disagreements with John and talk to God. She finds that she first complains to God, but then she is ready to work toward mutual agreement.
It’s important to keep it among you, God and your spouse and not go to friends or family, she said. Working out differences can build unity and strengthen a marriage. It’s important to make every effort to understand your spouse’s position even if you don’t agree with it.
“That’s such a desire of the human heart, to be understood,” Mary said. “Marriage is oneness, to come together.”
“I can have a faith life of my own.” According to the Rindones, every couple’s faith life needs to be grounded in a mutual, covenant relationship with God that will make their marriage stronger and build unity. The sacrament of marriage is given to couples to draw them closer to one another, and it comes with grace, John said. It would be a shame to isolate their faith lives from one another when that grace can unify both with God.
The Rindones cite a key influence in their marriage: The teachings of St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. The mission of Opus Dei, a worldwide Catholic organization, is to spread the message that the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.
“God kind of found us early on,” Mary recalled. “That formed some very good understanding of what is meant by our marriage vows.”
Mary, who grew up at St. Margaret Mary Parish, Milwaukee, is the daughter of the late Sandi and late long-time Deacon Peter LoCoco. John grew up in Omaha, and initially met Mary when she came home from the University of Dallas with his sister to spend Easter and spring break week with their family. Mary had a boyfriend at that time, so she and John were out of touch for several years until he sent Mary a graduation card before he came to Texas for his sister’s graduation.
The couple moved from Texas to Nebraska before moving to New Berlin in 2000. John is a marketing research director with SC Johnson in Racine, but both he and Mary have teaching backgrounds that has served them well in giving talks to married and engaged couples.
Doing talks on marriage – as well as speaking to engaged couples as they have for the past six years – has been “a real gift in our lives,” Mary said.
“We love it. We get a lot out of it ourselves,” Mary said. “It keeps us going over things for ourselves. You are around other couples really trying hard.”