A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Category: Marriage (page 2 of 3)

“Just Married” by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak – Book Review & Giveaway!

When the book, Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage arrived in the mail only a few short weeks before our wedding, I can’t say that I was expecting to read it anytime soon (let alone write a review for it). At first glance, I imagined it would have some good information, but nothing revolutionary or what I hadn’t heard before. Thankfully, I did find some time on our honeymoon to get started on the book (thanks NFP :D)… And once I picked up the book up, I couldn’t put it down.

Written by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, the book’s accessibility and practicality are themes that all couples will benefit from. While the Popcaks are without a doubt writing for a Catholic audience, couples from all different faith backgrounds will find it to be laden with valuable advice.

Just Married, Greg and Lisa Popcak

The Popcaks do an exceptional job stepping beyond the often candy-coated portrayal of newlywed life. Unlike so many other relationship books, Dr. Greg and Lisa supply readers with step-by-step guides and useful exercises to build a strong and lasting foundation for marriage. This book is a quick-read and easy to blaze through, but I found it helpful to stop and take moments to really let their advice sink in. I ended up dog-earing a lot and underlining sections I knew would be useful later. Plus, this served as subtle hints for Pat to take note of as he is currently reading through the book.

In addition to laying down some serious wisdom, they invite readers to seek out their own strengths and shortcomings as a couple. This is really helpful for sparking conversation with your spouse. I found this book to be inspiring as it gave me a sense that the joy-filled marriage we all dream of is in fact possible with faith and hard work of course.

Christopher West, another acclaimed Christian author says that “every married couple—newly married or otherwise—will benefit from this book.” I would whole-heartedly agree. Just Married is highly recommended and would make a wonderful gift for newlyweds too.

This review was made possible with compliments of Ave Maria Press.

Purchase “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage” and support ACoupleofCatholics.com with your purchase


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We met Pope Francis and took a selfie with him!

As you may know, we recently got married. For our honeymoon we are in Italy. Today we paid a visit to the Vatican for a Papal audience. And guess what? We met Pope Francis! (YES, we said met Pope Francis)

We captured this special moment in our own way by snapping a ‘selfie’ with the Holy Father on Saint Peter’s Square. See our Pope selfie photo in our tweet below:

We are so grateful to share this experience (and our papal selfie) with you and his blessing of our friends/family. A quick shout out to the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS for getting us special newlywed or “Sposi Novelli” tickets. This was an incredible way to start off our marriage (with a blessing from Papa Francisco)… and Pope Francis is clearly a master at taking selfies.

Anyway, we bring back his blessing for all our friends, family and readers. We prayed for all of you while we were in Rome. God bless!

The Meaning of Marriage – A Response to TIME’s The Childfree Life

Recently Time Magazine came out with a cover story, “The Childfree Life”, which has generated lots of controversy. While I could add to the conversation by inserting my own opinion, this is not the time for that because ultimately it isn’t really about whether or not a person wants children. When opinions and emotions are striped away from this debate, we find we are left with more than simply a difference in lifestyle choice. We are looking at a difference in core philosophy–a philosophy of our whole understanding of the meaning of marriage.

What is the purpose of marriage?

As my fiancé and I count down the days til our nuptials, we are not only excited for the wedding day; we are excited for the a lifetime together. More specifically, we are thrilled to fulfill our vocational call to marriage. As we see it, there are two reasons people can and should get married.

Marriage is unitive. We love each other so much we are choosing to spend the rest of our lives together (all of it…the ups, downs, heartaches and joys). When we say our marriage vows we are committing ourselves to one another, no matter how difficult it will prove to be at times. Why? We want to spend the rest of our lives helping each other become the best people we can be. Aside from helping one another grow, marriage is uniting with another person in the deepest sense of the word. It is the journey of two becoming one – intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Human beings are made for community, more so we are made for companionship. This intimate companionship can be found in marriage.

Marriage is meant to be procreative. Marriage finds its culmination in the procreation and rearing of children. Marriage is so much more than Patrick and I’s love for one another. Yes that is part of it and a crucial one at that, but getting married without the intention to have children is like stopping short of home base. Love is to be shared and propagated. Marriage will be difficult. There is no denying that. It will take a lifetime to learn and cultivate true selflessness. I fully expect that there will be many times when Pat will irritate and annoy me, but what better reminder would I have of my call to love him than my children? Just in case I ever forget why I love Pat, children will be a continuous reminder of the love we share — a mini me in the next room ramming his toy trucks into the wall.

You see, marriage is not an end in itself. Marriage is the foundation for a life full of opportunities for continual selflessness. This self-giving will be perpetuated in parenthood when our days will be drenched with moments to take care of another, a child who cannot take care of himself. These are opportunities over and over again to step outside of our own selfish world and care for another. This is the point of marriage as we see it. Others may disagree, exclaiming that marriage has a singular purpose–to be committed to another person and enjoy life’s many blessings. To those of you out there we don’t disagree, but joy and happiness for us is not the end goal. The fulfillment of our marriage will be in our selfless choices to love each other and our family.

Love on Purpose: Our Interview with HuffPost Live

Last Thursday Patrick and I found ourselves as guests among a panel of others with HuffPost Live, a real-time network news source. This segment’s discussion surrounded itself around a recent study, which suggests that couples living together before marriage have a higher chance of getting divorced than those who wait until they are married to live together. (Yeah cause we’ve never seen anything like this come out before)

Regardless of one’s religion or spiritual beliefs, no one desires for a romantic relationship to fail. Time and again though, studies like these seem to make an appearance about every 10 years. So why aren’t people catching on?

Think what you may about cohabitation, but there is one basic point that failed to be articulated during this segment; what is the purpose of romantic relationships?


This is an obvious one. The reason people flirt, hangout, date and eventually marry one another is for companionship. We are all looking for another that we can share our lives with, someone to join us in the ups, downs, trials and victories. Life is better shared.

At our deepest level, we all want to be known by another. We desire to be accepted and loved for who we truly are. In turn, we also want to deeply know someone. We desire to know them so completely and intimately in order to better love them.


While there is plenty to say on the topic of children, ultimately a marriage finds a certain fulfillment in bringing life into this world. Regardless of whether you want children or not, the point cannot be denied that one of the basic purposes of marriage is to repopulate the world.


My relationship with Patrick is not meant to be easy. It isn’t even meant to always make me happy. Happiness is fleeting and moods are shifting, mine particularly. There are some days when Patrick annoys me to no end, and I’m sure there are plenty of times when he feels the same way towards me.

Relationships are meant to smooth out our rough edges. It isn’t until we are intimately placed face to face before another that we realize how imperfect we actually are. The same qualities that drive me to insanity about Patrick are the same qualities that attracted me to him in the first place.

I know it sounds hard and it is, but the joy that comes from this is truly lasting and like nothing I have ever experienced before. Love is not about making us happy at any given moment. It is not about making sure that my foolish insecurities are calmed. It is about sacrifice, choice and ultimately making us better, more generous people; better for each other and better for the world.

Watch Us on HuffPost Live

Stop Motion Save the Date Video [How to]

If you know us well, you know that we like to be unique. Our goal (aside from getting married) is to have our guests leave thinking, “that was very Pat and Nicole.” We were looking for a creative, yet economical way to inform our guests to mark their calendars for our special day. So we decided to send out a save the date email with a personal spin on it. Instead of just an engagement photo, we created a stop motion save the date video.

To create our stop motion save the date, we used the following:

I highly recommend Finger Lab’s iMotion HD. It is both free and fully featured. In addition to these tools, here are a few other tips to keep in mind when creating your own save the date video.

Keep it simple

Not much to expand upon here; plan ahead. It’s great to have something complex and awesome, but the reality is that you are planning a wedding. Time is of the essence. My suggestion–keep it simple.

Make your video accessible

Grandma may not know how to use Instagram, but she can certainly check her email. We decided to send our video out over email simply because we knew that would work best for our family and friends. Your family may be different, so I suggest distributing it in a way that makes it easy to be viewed. Don’t be afraid to post it on Facebook, just because you can’t invite all your friends to the wedding doesn’t mean you can’t share your excitement with them.

Keep it under a minute folks

Be mindful that the goal of a save the date is two fold: #1 inform your guests of the upcoming big day and #2 allow them the opportunity to learn a little bit more about you as a couple, plus all those other important details (i.e. check out your wedding registry, website or whatever). No one wants to watch your next short film, keep it under a minute people.

So go out, have fun and make it personal. Engagement will fly by (or so others tell us) so try to enjoy the experience. What other save the date ideas have you all seen?

The First Date (How We Met Part 4 of 4)

You know how people always tell you that when you are in love, you’ll just know it. That phrase always annoyed me growing up. Although I can’t say that I knew on our first date that I would grow to love and eventually marry Patrick, I did know that he was something different and that this could potentially turn into something more.

As I recounted earlier, one of the initial traits that really impressed me about this guy was the way he lived with such intention. On the drive back to Atchison later that evening at 2 a.m. Pat called to make plans for our date. I don’t recall much about the conversation except that we decided to plan to meet up the following afternoon.

This guy wasn’t about to waste any time and while some women might think this a bit too forward, I was flattered. Finally, a man who was willing to step up and well, be a man. It was refreshing.

SEE ALSO: How We Met Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

The next day was spent prepping and primping as any lady would, even though we would never confess to such vain behavior. Patrick arrived on campus a little late only because he got lost. I didn’t mind though. I was so thrilled to finally have a date with this charmer. I mean I’d been waiting for nearly two months another half hour wouldn’t kill me.

When he finally did arrive on campus I met him at the campus church. As soon as he got out of the car to greet me, I suggested we begin our date with a prayer in one of the chapels. This ladies and gentlemen was a very strategic move on my part. I suggested this not only for the sake of paying honor to God and calming my nerves, but most importantly to test him out a little bit. After all, anyone can go to a young adult social and call themselves Catholic, but only people truly striving for holiness wouldn’t be utterly freaked out by this…and probably even some of them would be.

Intensity is my trademark and if this guy couldn’t handle a little awkward praying, then he sure wasn’t cut out to deal with my dramatics. Even though Pat thought this a little strange he went along with my idea and nervously led us in prayer. Ding….one point on the board for Pat Padley.

Next, I hopped in his hot ride (a Hyundai Sonata) and we hit the town… well, the neighboring town that is. Anyone who has ever visited Atchison, Kansas knows that this small community offers little to do for a budding romance.

We landed in Weston, MO and began our love story at Pirtle Winery. As Pat and I tasted the various wines, flirting shamelessly and trying to put our best foot forward we met a charming saleswoman with a distinct Southern drawl by the name of Miriam. She innocently inquired how long Pat and I had been married. Patrick, of course, thought he was scoring points; I turned all varying pigments of red and remember being quite thankful at that moment that he was so tall since it allowed me to hide my embarrassment. Little did either of us realize the foreshadowing that was happening in our very midst.

As we finished our tasting of the local wine we decided to wander around a nearby state park. We talked and talked and talked some more. Well Pat did, I was a little bit tipsy from the wine. Self-conscious I would say something ridiculous; I opted to play the mysterious card for a while.

Take it in folks...just take it in. The romance of the moment can just give you chills.

We walked around the trails, which ultimately led us to the famous Weston State Park lookout where we enjoyed a breath-taking view of the sun setting behind a nearby power plant. Ah, the majestic sightseeing of the Midwestern plains. Seriously though, whose idea was it to have a state park’s lookout overseeing a power plant?!?! Only in Kansas, my friends…only in Kansas.

We ended the evening with dinner at my all-time favorite Irish pub, O’ Malley’s. There at the pub, we enjoyed live music, more conversation, and more beer. I know it sounds like we drank a lot on our first-date and come to think of it maybe that’s how he got me to agree to a second date.

Regardless, he did get a second date and a third with no alcohol involved. A year and a half later the conversation is still easy, he still makes me smile and he is still intentionally striving to honor and love me. I can only hope and pray that in 60 years I am continuing to return the favor.

6 Creative Ways to Use Engagement Photos

You did it. You and your soon to be spouse finally agreed upon a photographer, picked out coordinating outfits (or not so coordinating) and set aside some time to get your engagement photos done. You’ve spent money on these lovely portraits now what are you suppose to do with them? You and your fiancé are only this young and beautiful once so why not showcase your attractiveness in a creative and fun way? Here are a few ways to use your engagement photos for the wedding and your blissful life together afterwards.

1)   Save the Date.

This one is an obvious choice. You can easily have your save the dates made through websites like snapfish or shutterfly at a reasonable cost. If you are feeling a bit more creative you can take a shot at making some yourself with Photoshop or Apple Pages.

2)   Shower Décor.

There are lots of ways to incorporate your photos into bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Some are little more exciting than others. The floating chandelier is super easy to do for anyone who wants to add a touch of personalization to the party. Another easy way to display your and your beau’s pics is through garland.

3)   Wedding Website.

My fiancé and I created a one-stop shop wedding website for our guests to peruse and find out all they need to know about our big day. Our engagement photos work as nice accents and backgrounds for the site. Need some ideas, check it out: www.patplusnicole.com

4)   Cake Topper.

Pat and I will definitely be doing this for our wedding in November. It’s an inexpensive, DIY touch that adds a personal flair to your cake .

Polaroid cake topper

5)   Centerpieces.

At first glance this might sound a little boring or uncreative, but there a numerous ways to use your photos as part of a larger centerpiece. Pintrest has plenty of ideas to inspire you. I personally love these DIY vintage photo mason jars.

6)   Decorate your home.

I’m not simply implying that you throw your pictures in a few frames and hang it on the wall (although you can do that too), rather make something a little more unique. Check out this photo letter art. Better yet, try your DIY skills with this shabby chic picture window.

Well there you have it. That’s the best I’ve got. Have any other creative ways to use engagement photos? Share them with us in the comments below.

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