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How do you approach political or moral disagreement with those close to you, including on social media?

We believe in truth. Sharing the truth. Living the truth. Loving the truth. But the truth doesn’t need us to defend it. The truth can certainly defend itself. Especially if we present it with charity, and recognize that proclaiming truth only really works when it’s shared with people we already know and love.

So sometimes, that means when we don’t agree with someone, we have to assess whether or not it’s even worth digging into with them. Would it just harm the relationship? Would we even have the chance to be heard or to dialogue before we’re shut down? Are we ourselves even open to hearing what they have to say, or are we just walking in with our own biases and preconceived notions?

Once we’ve figured that out, and really done a gut check on the entire situation, then we’ll dig in and try to dialogue. That’s the key thing, we think. Dialogue. Discussion. Not debate. Not relying only on our opinion, but trying our best to listen and hear “the other side,” so that we then can share our own perspective and understanding.

The thing is, it’s entirely possible to love someone with whom you have profound disagreements. Whether it’s political candidate preference, or how to handle a specific policy within the world, or what to do about something that seems minor, but could actually turn into something quite big. The only way that relationship could ever flourish though, is to also be unafraid to come to a place where the truth can be shared—with distinct attention to loving them, listening to them and walking with them as we share it.

As for how to “do that” on social media? Don’t even try.

Our hard-fast rule (that we try to stick to) is that social media comment boxes, tweets and direct messages aren’t really the proper forum to dig into honest dialogue and fruitful discussion. If we don’t have that person’s phone number, or wouldn’t be able to meet them in person for dinner to talk, then it’s probably not our place to dig into that tough issue with them anyway. Sharing the truth—especially hard truths—should be done with people you know and love. And social media, with its constant scroll and never-ending feed, is not always a place conducive to making sure things are said charitably, honestly and patiently.

Mass with two young children seems impossible. Tips for success?

We walked into parenthood like most first-time moms and dads: convinced we knew precisely what we would do, how we would handle every situation and challenge, and imagined we knew exactly what would happen during x, y, or z.

And then we had a baby that didn’t eat, screamed all the time, puked nonstop, and we realized that parenting is never a formulaic experience whereby you follow these or those game plans and come out the other side victorious, but is instead a constant recalibrating and reconfiguring of everything.

That attitude—recalibrate, reconfigure, and try again—is how we approach Mass as a family. It’s almost like solving a puzzle, with conversations after Mass like, “This helped Rose stay focused, so we need to make sure we do that next week” or, “if we go at this time, Clare is most likely to nap, so let’s make sure that’s the priority for Sunday.” We know we aren’t perfect, nor will our participation in the Mass be perfect.

So knowing that, we walk in each week with as positive an attitude as we can. It’s all about recognizing there is goodness in the effort, that they won’t be this age forever, and we are building a habit and learning to pray together as a family. It’s not the end of the world if our quiet prayer time comes later in the day while the kids nap and we get a chance to talk about the Gospel, reflect on the homily or just debrief about how we can do better next week.

The best, and probably hardest thing we can do as a family is try to sit quietly in a confined space for an hour on Sunday and talk to Jesus. And we have no doubt that Jesus delights in us being there, and what we are teaching our children is invaluable and necessary.

This year has made community seem more important than ever. How do you carve out space for that with a young family?

There’s a real gift in being able to talk and laugh with people who “get it.” Who knows what it’s like to be up three and four times a night with kids who just won’t sleep, who get the stress of budgeting for Catholic school tuition and saving for retirement and who know why it’s so important we at least attempt to pray as a family every night. It’s also a real gift to be close to people who aren’t in that phase of life, and be able to both welcome them into our family life, get their advice about how they once navigated it or simply share what our home and life is like.

All of us, but especially young families, thrive in community. Because there’s a comfort in knowing we aren’t navigating these waters alone, nor are we the first ones to do it. Friends, other families, the people in the pews we see each Sunday—these are people we rely on, lean on, communicate and gather with, simply because we know our family isn’t an island unto itself, and we’d fall apart without them.

For us, prioritizing community really changed in 2020—the people we’d do family dinners with, travel to see, welcome into our home—all of it shut down in the name of safety and caution. We’ve learned to really value the relationships we have, and foster them with attention and care. Whether that’s Facetime calls, picnics at the park, making plans for the future and dreaming together about trips and dinners or just sitting together at Mass on Sunday, the people we love are people we pour into, and we’ve learned to not take that for granted anymore.

How have you adjusted to married life as parents and how do you prioritize each other in the midst of childrearing chaos?

When our first daughter was about twelve weeks old, we moved her into her nursery and crib for bedtime. Three months of having her in a bassinet within arm’s reach was enough. We needed space. We needed sleep. By night four, she fell asleep within a matter of minutes of laying her down, and suddenly it was 7:30 at night and we had time, just the two of us.

We immediately filled up two bowls with strawberry ice cream and went and sat on the back porch and talked for three hours—just catching up—not realizing how long it had been since we’d had a conversation that wasn’t focused on baby spit up, feeding schedules, sleep deprivation, diaper supplies or paying off the hospital bills.

That was the day we learned our top priority always needed to be one another, because only then would we actually be able to pour into our children the way they needed.

So, we try to keep it simple. Most afternoons we let Rose watch a show and we fix cocktails and sit in the living room, some Disney movie on in the background, and talk about our days. Once a month we go on a date (and in the time of COVID-19, we order take out, set up on the picnic table outside, and laugh at the fact that we haven’t changed out of sweatpants in a week). We pray together before bed, even if it’s just a quick “Hail, Mary.” We try to pick a show and watch it only with one another, even if it means waiting to turn it on till the other one gets home (a sacrifice, to be sure).

We married each other because we actually like each other. We’re friends. We enjoy one another’s company. We can laugh together, unpack big ideas together, debate with one another, disagree, come to reasonable conclusions. And we’re the best mom and dad we can be when we take the time to tend to and grow the friendship that anchors our marriage.