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Posted November 5, 2013

Book: Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage
Authors: Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2013. Pp. 247

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Popcaks combine decades of experience as counselors, the latest findings in marriage research, more than twenty years of marriage, and the wisdom of Catholic teaching to offer newly-weds a master plan for creating a strong bond in the first five years of marriage.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Four Stages of Conflict


Every couple complains about things in their marriage. Believe it or not, complaining about things in your marriage can actually be a positive and healthy activity. But when complaints become criticism, that's when the first stage of marital-communication collapse begins to threaten your ability to solve problems together and feel good about each other in conflict. What's the difference?

A complaint is just an observation that either a need is not being met or things are not the way you would like them to be. Complaints simply and respectfully call attention to problems you would like to solve.

Identifying Complains Exercise

The following are examples of complaints that you hear in your home a lot.

  • I am so tired of getting to church late on Sunday!"

  • We really need to find a better way to keep up with the housework. This is killing me.

  • We're spending so much time with your family. I like them, but I could really use some time for 'just me.'

  • I know you have a lot of work to do this weekend, but I miss you. I'd really like it if we could find some time for each other. The last couple of weeks have been rough.

In each of the above examples, the complaint represented the way one spouse called the other's attention to a problem that needed to be addressed. The complaint was nonpersonal, nonattacking, and thing focused (i.e., it addressed an event or situation that needed to change).

Criticisms on the other hand are very personal, usually attacking, and spouse focused.

Identifying criticism exercise

Let's look at the same four situations we presented above, but this time we'll state them as criticisms.

  • You take sooooo long getting ready! I'm so sick of waiting around for you every Sunday. You know how much I hate being late for church!

  • Why do you always leave all the housework to me? You're so selfish! Did it ever occur to you that maybe I'd like to have some down time once in a while?

  • God! What is with you and your obsession with seeing your family all the time? It's as if we can't get away from those people! Don't you think it might be time to cut the cord?

  • You're such a workaholic! You never have any time for us. You probably wish you never got married. You sure act like it.

Table of Contents:

1. Do you have what it takes?

2. Culture shock

3. The couple that prays together

4. The four stages of conflict

5. Managing conflict gracefully

6. Marriage enemy #1

7. First comes marriage

8. Money madness

9. Of outlaws and in-laws

10. Holy sex

11. Bring up baby?

12. Changing the world through your marriage

13. Staying in love for life