Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says: 

Anita says: With the New Year arriving, I think Ted and I need to take a look at our lives and see what improvements we can make. We could incorporate a monthly trip to somewhere interesting for the kids, like the planetarium or going on a hay ride. We also should add a couple of night’s workout at the gym. It never hurts to keep the body stretching. Maybe taking a Zumba dance class would be fun! And there is also the charitable outreach that we could improve in our lives. I was thinking of volunteering one night a month at a homeless shelter to distribute food or maybe donating time to the children’s cancer ward once a month. I know our schedule is already full, but how else will we be able to challenge ourselves and grow unless we reach out and do new things?

He says:

Ted says: These are all fine ideas; however, I find my life already pretty stretched out. To be honest, I would prefer we take stock of all the many things we already do before adding more items to our “to do” or “charitable” list.

I just think that our church involvement, Anita teaching PREP and me being an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, is sufficient participation in our parish community.

We already do take a couples walk together three mornings a week, which I find refreshing, giving us time together to talk and plan for us and our kids.

Our children are involved in sports and the plays at school, which means lots of driving and praising and consoling for us. Anita cooks a monthly meal for the local hospice to feed homeless people.

I am not sure I could spend more time at a shelter passing out food when my head and heart would be at home relishing some down time for us.

Why can’t Anita be satisfied with all that our kids and I do already? Why do we constantly have to add more to the list of obligatory good works?

The ideas Anita has are great, but I find myself feeling resentful when we are always giving chase to Anita’s latest “action idea” for our family. The kids are great and are up for new challenges, but I am getting some gray hairs, and my energy level is not what it used to be. I am contented entering the New Year with an inventory of what we already do, and not taking on a whole lot of new resolutions!

What do they do?

Anita’s New Year’s resolutions seem to be very fruitful and fulfilling to her. They are great ideas for educating the children and exposing them to appreciate what they have and be able to learn to reach out to the less fortunate.

Ted is hesitant about adding a list of new activities to what is already a pretty full schedule. He applauds the family for the community involvement in which they already participate. Ted adds that he is not getting any younger and doesn’t want to resent the added resolutions.

This couple appears to be very active and caring. They already participate in activities at church and at school and in the community that give them opportunities to serve others and to learn and to have fun themselves.

Ted and Anita should hold a family meeting to discuss further involvement. It is time for an open and honest discussion about their individual feelings on getting more involved and adding more items to an already full schedule.

Why not chart out their current schedules on paper, in order that everyone can see the amount of time being spent by each person on all of the activities in which the family is involved? Seeing things written down can be amazingly eye-opening!

Sometimes taking account of our current activities and showing appreciation for what they bring to the table is just as good as adding new resolutions to schedules.

Perhaps Anita might want to do that Zumba class without Ted while he stays home with the children on the Zumba class night.

Switching a few of your obligations (back off from the soup kitchen and read to older people; become a lector in your parish when your term as extraordinary minister expires) could bring newness and reduce the “drudgery” of the tasks facing you.

As always, Anita and Ted need to be communicating with God in regard to what he expects of them as individuals, as parents and as a couple. Let God’s voice be heard in the negotiations. “At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8).

In the end, it is good to consider New Year’s resolutions, but it is also good to take stock of what is already being accomplished. The spouse who is high energy and willing to make and attempt to accomplish “the list” needs to listen to the spouse who needs more “down time” and accommodate his or her slower schedule.

“Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else; for each will bear his own load” (Galatians 6:4).