September’s Featured Married Couple is Michael and Sterling from Idaho. Sterling is a fellow blogger and that is how I became acquainted with this lovely couple. Like me, Sterling is a convert to the Catholic Faith, so I feel a connection with her. This couple is very much on fire to bring the Gospel to the world. Sterling runs a website at www.sterlingjaquith.com where she has a podcast titled “Coffee and Pearls.” She’s also got a book coming out titled “Catholic Mom Challenge.” Michael does his part, too. He runs a website at www.thestakesarehigh.com. They both work together running a fencing business. Whew! This is one busy couple! Sterling and Michael have been married since June 5, 2010. They have three beautiful daughters and three sweet babies in Heaven. It’s so great to see a couple that is putting their faith into action.
What did you do for your first date?
Sterling: We went to McMenamins, a popular brewery restaurant, and then we walked along the riverfront of the Columbia river.
Michael: After going to the wrong place, I was so nervous, I ate a gigantic burger in approximately 3.7 seconds. For some reason, that didn’t end the relationship.
Sterling, what initially attracted you to Michael?
We met on eHarmony and I was attracted to Michael online because he was the first person to actual say “Jesus” in his profile. I was looking for a deeply religious man and he mentioned his faith several times. He also liked dogs, which was a big plus to me. 😉
Michael, what initially attracted you to Sterling?
Sterling had gone deep into the world (as I had) and rejected it. She knew the choice she was making by choosing Christ over the world. Many of the women I had met online and in person were Christian only in a shallow way. She was smart and she complimented a lot of my shortcomings. While my wife was and is a beautiful woman, it was her choices and values that most captured my attention.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage?
Sterling: Marriage is like a mirror. I think we anticipated that living with another person and accepting their faults was going to be difficult. I’m not sure we knew how hard it was going to be to face our own faults.
Michael: Marriage is fundamentally a way for God to help us become Saints – to recognize our own faults and work to overcome them. I don’t believe I had anticipated how painful this can be at times. Movies and society tend to paint marriage either as blissful (e.g. when you “meet the right person”) or as terrible and a cause for divorce. I was not prepared that a good marriage can still create pain.
If you could go back and talk to your newlywed selves, what would you say?
I wish we had known about the book “The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse” straight from the beginning. I wish we also knew the idea that some people need to talk to think things out and some people need to think before they talk things out. When we heard a marriage talk on communication where this topic was brought up, it instantly cleared up how we process things differently. It made it so much easier for us to talk things out after we learned this.
What has been one of the hardest things about marriage, in your opinion?
For us personally, our intimate life has been a huge struggle. We got pregnant on our honeymoon so Sterling was pretty sick right away. We feel like were were cheated out of magical first year of sex. Then we went on to spend the majority of our first five years pregnant or postpartum. It’s been difficult to know what a “normal” sex life is supposed to look like. I’m not sure we were prepared for how hard this “simple” part of our marriage was going to be.
Did you receive any good advice before you got married?
Honestly, no! We were the only Catholics in our family. Almost everyone we’re related to is divorced. But it’s a good thing we came into marriage with no advice. We knew straightaway that we needed to read books if we wanted to have a strong marriage. We ready many Gregory Popcak books, “Love and Respect,” “The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse” and “Intimacy & Desire” by Dr. Schnarch.
How do you incorporate God into your marriage?
We pray every night out loud together. This was incredibly awkward in the beginning of our marriage. Over time, we figured out how to be more comfortable praying in front of each other. We also take turns going to Adoration. It can be difficult giving up this time, especially when the other spouse has to watch the kids, but we both know how important it is for our marriage.
We are often reading Catholic books about marriage. We ask others to pray for our marriage. We have also designed Our Lady Undoer of Knots as the patroness of our marriage. We say a special prayer to her every night to undo the knots we’ve tied in our marriage.
What do you love the most about marriage?
No one will ever know you quite like your spouse. It’s a deeply personal and intimate relationship. It echoes the love of God because marriage is a sacrament. You receive graces (and you’ll need them) that help bring you closer to Jesus. Before you get married, you might have this idea of “playing house” with someone you have a crush on, but marriage is so much deeper and more fulfilling than that. Marriage can be playful, filled with laughter and it’s like the softest security blanket. Marriage can also be a rock; it’s an anchor in this crazy whirlwind life we’re living. You know you can always come back to something solid, even when you’re in a rough patch.
What is a common misconception about marriage?
Most people don’t understand that marriage is about serving your spouse. Not in a slave-type of way, but in a loving obedient kind of way. Many of us going into marriage think we’re going to be loved by our spouse, and we are, but as Fr. John Riccardo says, “Real love begins when the feelings fade.” Loving your spouse is a choice and you make that choice over and over again as you serve each other in very small and ordinary ways. It can be beautiful, but very few songs and movies capture this part of the quiet masterpiece that God has designed.