Whole Parenting Family

I want a better marriage


Yes, I really do! I really do. And it’s on my mind often. What can I do to improve our marriage? Okay, that’s a lie. Somedays all that’s on my mind is the long list of things he can do to improve our marriage. But I married a great guy to begin with, and I bring at least half the problems to the relationship so I really can take credit for needing to improve it and being able to.

1) recognize where we are.

Like, without the hormonal influence of pregnancy. Really, truly, I sat down and took stock in where our marriage is. I wrote down what our habits are. How much time we actually spend in actual conversation. How often we bicker or fight. How frequently I’m slaying him with death-emojis in my mind’s emoticon board.

I also wrote down what I appreciate about him. I wrote this out before the list of things that are hard for me because it’s easy to get swept up in the negative, at least for me. It’s not social media’s fault. It’s not my iPhone’s fault. It’s my fault for spiraling down a negativity black hole when a simple acknowledgement of an annoyance would do. Let go, bite the inside of your mouth, find ice cream. All better things to do.

2) talk openly about our children and future children.

Laura & Nancy & I wrote another Scripture study (Waiting in the Word: A Couple’s Journey) that I know I told you about a few weeks back. We wanted to talk about a couple’s fertility journey and all the challenges that go along with it, openly, honestly, something that we haven’t experienced in our communities. All three of us practice natural family planning (talked about it here) in some variation but the variations are wide ranging–as we suspect is the case for many couples out there. SO LET’S TALK ABOUT IT ALREADY!

We asked our husbands, would you write an essay about our fertility journey? Uhhhhhh they said yes! We also have six amazing guest writers that share about their experiences including loss, hyper-fertility, sub-fertility, adoption, long-term infertility, and health issues. It’s an honor to hold the space for their stories.






& Anna!

When AA and I read each other’s essays, it was an opportunity to talk about our plans, our fears, our hopes. I’d like to be out of survival mode someday and wish my pregnancies didn’t render me so completely frustrated with being unable to do most things most days. I’d also like to be open to having more kids. How do we reconcile these two apparently differing likes on my end?

Hopefully going through the study together, now that it’s all done, will provide us with some grace & answers. The Scripture part is five verses for each week along with special prayers and discussion questions.

This leads me to way number three to make my marriage better.

3) pray together.

I fail at this so miserably! We murmur off a quick prayer before bedtime, but our prayer lives have always been rather separate. I joke it’s because his is a deep well and mine a shallow stream. When you marry a former seminarian who’s fluent in ancient languages and wanted (at one time, and probably on rough days around here) to be a hermit, you have a lot of catching up to do.

We’re both praying the Office as we can during the day, and then trying to do a Rosary together. Or at least a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It’s a work in progress. I have the time; I have to choose to spend it in prayer to re-center and connect.

If you want to join us, the study is on sale this week and then we’ll start as a group on it next week. Our Facebook group is incredible and supportive and we’d love to have you be part of it. Sign up for the newsletter here.

waiting in the word

How are you improving your marriage? Tips from the veterans needed!




  1. Ellen on October 3, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I love that you are doing this because the truth is NFP is HARD really hard especially if you have serious reasons to need more space between kids or to be done with having more kids. There is definitely a feeling of needing to only talk about how great NFP is because the truth is we are judged and scrutinized for the choice. I will never forget the first honest conversation I had with a friend about how hard NFP is, it was such a relief to know that I was not alone and that there are many many approved versions!

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      YES. OH my gosh, yes.

    • catherine on November 18, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Ah! My goodness would LOVE more information….in the thick of the NFP trial :s please write ciarallo__c@hotmail.com

      • Natural Mama Nell on November 22, 2016 at 9:59 am

        Check out our site: http://www.waitingintheword.com and you can purchase the “our vows” and “couple’s journey” studies 🙂

  2. Daniela on February 27, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Is this designed specifically for advent? Or any time of the year?

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 2, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Nope! Anytime of year!