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After the Honeymoon Phase: Dr. Edward and Beth Sri Talk Real Marriage

Most marriages start out harmoniously, but friends of the show and married couple Dr. Edward and Beth Sri join Father Dave to discuss what happens when the honeymoon phase wears off. After decades of involvement in ministry and evangelization, they are now the authors of the new book, “The Good, the Messy, and the Beautiful: The Joys and Struggles of Real Married Life.

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, speaker, and author, as well as one of the founding members of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) where he met his wife Beth. The two describe how the common experiences of couples they’ve met through the years led to this book.

Dr. Sri explains how many newlyweds with a strong faith life think that marriage won’t be as hard for them because of their belief in Jesus. He says, “Then they get into it, three months, three years, three babies in their marriage and say, ‘oh my goodness, why are we fighting so much? Why is there this tension and this hurt? We feel so ashamed.’ We just smile at them and say, welcome to the club. The sacrament is working. Don’t freak out, this what the sacrament does, it brings to the surface things that God wants to work on in your heart.”

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Beth likens marriage to the experience of making bone broth, which is something she does on a regular basis. The process involves taking beef bones and letting them simmer in a pot of water with herbs for almost two days. She says, “that slow simmer breaks down the bones and it pulls all the awesome stuff into the water: the vitamins, the minerals, the collagen, all the fantastic things that make bone broth wonderful for you. But conversely, it also pulls out the gross stuff from the bones and these rise to the surface. It makes this nasty gray film…so you have to babysit the broth and periodically scoop off this nasty gray scum, because you don’t want it to ruin the beautiful broth that you’re trying to preserve.”

“Well that’s marriage,” Beth says. “The slow simmer of the years pulls out all the good stuff, you grow in virtue and holiness. And the bad stuff comes out too: your sins, your weaknesses, your vices, your wounds from the past. All this stuff, by design, comes up and out through the light of Christ in the sacrament.”

One piece of advice they give to couples early in their courtship is to find a volunteer opportunity where they can serve others together. Then, regardless of what other events come along, maintain that commitment no matter what. Dr. Sri says, “A lot of people like to volunteer and serve when it’s easy, convenient, and it fits your schedule. But in real marriage and real family life you don’t get to [fit it] into your schedule…you don’t get to choose when you serve.”

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Conversely, Beth also discusses the popular buzzword of “self-care” and how it can renew a marriage when properly defined. “Self-care is what restores me so that I have more to give. It helps me to be a fully alive, integrated person so that I can be a fully alive and integrated wife, mom, friend, daughter, and neighbor. I have more to bring to my relationships because I’ve taken that time.”

Father Dave notes how, “A lot of times these days we would use ‘self-care’ to be a synonym for ‘leave me alone’ or just indulging. That’s different from rejuvenating my giving spirit.” Dr. Sri agrees and says, “We write about that in the book – how there’s no such thing as my time and her time. It’s all our time.” He expresses that each person getting this kind of time serves the wider good in a marriage.