God calls married couples to be more than just roommates

Our annual Celebrate Marriage Conference is right around the corner – AUG 27th!! Of course, there is still time to get tickets! You may find out more at the link in the previous sentence.

I reached out to the Indianapolis Archdiocese Criterion to see if I might be able to submit an article. The timing worked out perfectly and they agreed! I was certainly surprised to see my article featured in their fall marriage supplement. Here is the article as it appears in the newspaper.

2022 Fall Marriage Supplement

By Marcy Renken
(Special to The Criterion)

Have you ever heard the phrase “living like roommates?” Specifically, I’m referring to this phrase used to describe the way my husband and I were living earlier in our marriage.

Tom had his first job as a software engineer after college, and I was finishing my degree in economics. Our closest family was 900 miles away. We were busy with our toddler, college, work, home remodeling, church choir, and I was playing trumpet in three music groups. We were too busy to live our marriage as one, the way God intended in Genesis 2:24.

We kept track of who did more and when. “I’m not doing the laundry one more time until I see Tom put his own clothes in the hamper.” It’s supposed to be fair, right? We would each give our 50% and it would all work out. We treated our marriage like a contract.

A big life change was just what we needed to have a better marriage, a better life.

After we had been married for about five years, we moved closer to my family. We became angry more often and bitter toward each other. Relocating seemed to highlight our challenges even more and brought in new tensions we had never experienced.

We had been married in the Catholic Church, had a sponsor couple and attended a Tobit weekend. But we still missed the point. We had a relationship, but we weren’t being vulnerable to each other. We couldn’t even have a conversation about faith or money without being at odds, so we rarely tried. We either weren’t comfortable sharing all our struggles or we didn’t quite remember how to share in a healthy way, the way we were shown during marriage prep.

I grew tired of the tension and stumbled upon a weekend retreat called Worldwide Marriage Encounter. During that weekend, Tom shared his flaws and weaknesses and allowed me to accept all of him. I took off my disguises and he accepted me, too.

In the moments of our own weakness, we were each accepted and loved completely for being our broken selves—the way Christ loves. This is the agape love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 and read aloud at many weddings. It’s a selfless love, the love that gives and doesn’t keep score.

The secrets, loneliness, struggles, depression and excuses we had been carrying were exposed. We found a healthy way to communicate through dialogue. We began to heal from wounds that many couples end their marriage over. God was very clearly calling us to put HIM at the center, to live our marriage as one, to live the covenant he created with us.

The transformation in our marriage lit a spark within us. We began to understand our marriage as a vocation which impacts others around us. In our marriage, we can bring others to Christ.

Pope Francis once said, “Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as a result of a great, shared effort.”

We’ve now been married 20 years and have five wonderful children, so far. Do we still have struggles? Absolutely, and that’s OK! “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). God continues to transform us.

When he was associate pastor at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, Father Michael Keucher said in one of his homilies, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Take time to nurture your marriage and watch it grow! Attend a marriage retreat or conference. Start a couples’ Bible study. Do something to enrich your marriage. If you need more suggestions, let Tom and me know. We are on fire for marriage!

(Marcy Renken, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Greenwood in Greenwood, leads the Celebrate Marriage ministry with her husband Tom. The annual Celebrate Marriage Conference the ministry presents will be held on Aug. 27. Learn more at CelebrateMarriageMinistry.com.) †

Here is a link to the original article: https://www.archindy.org/criterion/local/2022/08-12/s-column.html

Faith in Action June 2022

Tom & Marcy on Faith in Action

The Renkens shared about how the Celebrate Marriage ministry began and where it’s going.

Celebrate Marriage offers Christ-centered enrichment.

Tom and Marcy Renken were invited to be guests of Brigid Ayer on Catholic Radio Indy’s Faith in Action radio show.

Marcy and Tom talk with Jim and Brigid about the marriage enrichment program and how it assists couples of all stages in marriage with their relationships. They discuss an upcoming marriage conference with Dr. Ray Guarendi scheduled for Saturday, August 27th, 2022 at Our Lady of the Greenwood in Greenwood, IN.

For details or to register see the website CelebrateMarriageMinistry.com or for questions, email info@celebratemarriageministry.com or call 317- 489-1557.


For the latest Celebrate Marriage events, check out our events tab above!

Faith in Action October 2021

Tom & Marcy on Faith in Action

Tom and Marcy Renken were invited to be guests of Brigid Ayer on Catholic Radio Indy’s Faith in Action radio show.

This show ended up being two parts. The Renkens shared about the Celebrate Marriage ministry during the first half. The second half, Marcy continues on with Brigid, joined by Katherine Morris, to speak about a new opportunity for women – The Recharge Conference.


People can listen live over the airwaves on 89.1FM, 90.9 FM, or via live stream on their computer from our webpage www.catholicradioindy.org  or on demand via podcast. Catholic Radio Indy also has an app available for android or apple devices.

For the latest Celebrate Marriage events, check out our events tab above!

For information about Recharge, a day for women, go to Our Lady of Greenwood’s Facebook Page under events.

Thank God I’m an over-stressed wife

A few weeks ago, I found myself at a breaking point. I had reached a moment when I realized I could not handle everything I am currently committed to. It wasn’t just my every day commitments. It was the extra things on top of all the things I said yes to months or even years ago.

Motherhood. Being a wife. Being a friend. Being a realtor. Singing in a praise band. Toastmasters. New leadership roles in Toastmasters. Planning a 2 week surprise vacation for my husband. Summer schedules with all the kids at home. Making time for fun this summer. Laundry-even just every couple of weeks. Yes, I only do laundry every couple of weeks. Does that mean we have too  many clothes or is it better because I only have IMG_5662to worry about it once every two weeks? Dishes. I thought we just ran the dishwasher. Why are there so many dirty dishes? What are we having for dinner again? Didn’t I already plan dinner? Oh, wait, that was yesterday. Well, I thought we’d have leftovers, but for some strange reason the kids actually ate what I made and now I have to throw something together. If the kids don’t eat it, that solves my lunch dilemma for tomorrow. Why are my kids so messy? Why are there toys in the water table that don’t belong outside or in water? Yes, I do love to clean up the messes of each of my children. Perhaps if the laundry basket had a target or basketball hoop, the kids might learn what it is for. Whose idea was it to move again? I mean, I really love our new house, but moving is such a different experience when you have 4 kids. I love yard work, but I am glad it did not rain very much last week so I could skip mowing this week. I love my flowers, but now I am doubting my decision to plant over 100 more in addition to what was already here. Now I have 15 pots to water every few days.

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That was my brain-okay, maybe only a small snippet of what was going through my mind. There I was, at the end of a relatively productive day. I made it through another day of achieving everything I really needed to do in order to just barely get everything on my list done. Who am I kidding? I don’t keep a list.

I decided my day would have been even more fantastic if I could get the basement painted (new house = new projects). When I was excited about painting the basement, my husband decided to spontaneously honor our 6 year old’s wishes and made a fire in our fire pit. I decided to stay inside to paint. They all enjoyed s’mores and had fun playing outside – staying up much later than I would have liked.

Much to my surprise, when my husband came inside he had no interest in helping me paint the basement. He knew I wanted to get it done before our vacation.

That was it. I found my breaking point.

It is difficult for me to share this, but the glass of water I held in my hand at that point in time was lucky to have survived. It took nearly every ounce I had left that day not to toss the glass across the room and watch it shatter into a hundred tiny pieces as water coated my very not clean floor.

I decided to call it a day. A quick shower and bed. After all, my husband said he was too tired to help me paint. I assumed he was turning me down and didn’t care to spend time with me.

Reflecting back, I am glad I held my tongue and didn’t say or throw anything. I thank God for the grace of overcoming the moment without using harsh words. I wanted to yell, to scream something at Tom. He wasn’t the source of my frustration.

After my quick shower, Tom made a comment on how fast I showered and how eager I seemed to want to go to sleep. I told him that apparently he was too tired, so I would just head to bed.

That’s when tears began to stream down my face. My instinct was to say horrible things, but somehow I was able to refrain. I confessed to Tom that I was overwhelmed, that I could not handle everything I was doing. It was true, we have both been very busy.

Tom looked at me with such compassion and understanding. He embraced me and held me tight until the river of tears stopped flowing that night.

I always try to justify how busy I am by saying I am doing it for the kids, for opportunity, for my husband, for a better life, for XYZ. If I can justify my involvement and busy-ness, then I will keep doing it and keep adding to it.

My moment of being overwhelmed was a small gift from God. It was good for me to feel frustrated, to feel overwhelmed. It was good for me to experience the tears and admit that I am weak.

When I am able to admit that I cannot do everything, I find myself relying more upon God. I have to let go a little. I know I cannot do it all. Every once in a while, I need a wake up call. I cannot be good at any one thing if I try to do everything all the time. It’s okay to feel weak.

I feel refreshed. I’ve been able to take time to reevaluate my priorities and let go a little.

I desire to be a good wife and a good mother. Everything else is second. Otherwise, I am unable to be an example of Christ for others to follow.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13


Faith in Action May 2017

We had the opportunity to once again be featured on Catholic Radio Indy’s program “Faith in Action.” Tom and I were interviewed by MJ for 15 minutes.

It is a strange experience to hear yourself speak on a radio or any sort of recording. “Is that really my voice?” is what Tom kept asking me.

The interview went well. MJ is a very conversational host, so it allows for a nice flow to her program.

That’s when we realized we missed an opportunity. Lesson learned.

We had so much to share about the growing Radio2Celebrate Marriage ministry. We were so excited that we completely forgot to mention anything about our upcoming event, Celebrate Covenant. One of the driving reasons for our interview was to mention something about the event we have planned for this Saturday. An entire 15 minutes went by when we realized we had missed the opportunity to invite the listeners to hear Keith and Kathy Syberg speak on Christ in marriage.

We are still very new to figuring out the best ways to not only spread the word about the importance of having events to enrich marriages, but also to promote our ongoing events.

If you would like to listen to the program which aired this past week, you can listen here: Listen to Podcast Now

My husband doesn’t make me happy

My husband doesn’t make me happy.

We just made it through our second “seven year itch” and he still doesn’t make me happy. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem here. Around the time of our 7th year of marriage, Tom and I each had a friend who was suddenly getting a divorce.

When we found out about each of them getting divorced, we were shocked. When we had spent time with them, they seemed happy and got along well. We didn’t think they were any different from us. Neither of our friends came to us for advice. Neither of them let us know that there was anything wrong in their marriages.

In both of these situations, the wives said their husbands didn’t make them happy any more.

My husband doesn’t make me happy. Why am I still married?

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Tom and I went through marriage prep in the Catholic Church. That was one difference between us and our friends. We met 6 times with a married sponsor couple and then attended a weekend retreat to prepare us for marriage. We were “prepared” for marriage. Were we really prepared for our life together?

When we got married, we were like a new car – newly-weds with nothing but a smooth ride ahead. We were low on mileage and had no scratches or dents. We hadn’t even hit any bumps in the road.

What happens after marriage prep? What happens after you drive off the lot in that new car? Your car is now worth significantly less.

From experience, I can tell you that discussing and planning for marriage – getting prepared – is a lot different than living the married life. If you’re married, you know planning for the wedding is different than living in marriage. Even though we went through marriage preparation, after 7 years of marriage, we found ourselves growing apart.

We had promised each other we would go back and review the materials we kept from our marriage preparation, each year on our anniversary. I was in Iraq during our first anniversary. The next anniversaries came and went without much thought of reviewing those old notes.  As the years started passing by, we lost that new car smell. We started getting used to seeing a few scratches. We even missed some regular maintenance.

Tom and I didn’t want to end up like our friends. What could we do to avoid what our friends went through? Marriage counseling? That was pretty much the only thing we had heard of up to that point. All that we could see offered to married couples were responses to conflict – a therapist or a divorce attorney.

After 7 years, Tom wasn’t making me happy. We needed to do something, right?  I did some digging and learned that there is more out there for marriages.

We took our not-so-new-anymore car for a long overdue visit to the mechanic. We found a World Wide Marriage Encounter weekend. It is a time-free weekend away from all of life’s distractions to focus only on each other.

That weekend opened up my eyes in our marriage. I’m the optimist in our relationship. I learned that our relationship was not as good as I thought. It wasn’t that we did not get along. It was that we had allowed parts of us to be hidden from each other. We allowed ourselves to grow apart and become roommates, roommates with benefits.

It is hard to believe the tears and emotions we shared that weekend. We had years of built-up heartache and pain. At the same time, we grew closer together intimately than we had ever been before. We were open and honest in a safe environment.

I learned that Tom had feelings. He learned that I am real too. Now, I’m not sure why he didn’t think I was real before – I have plenty of faults and imperfections, believe me! We learned how to communicate in a more intimate way which has allowed our relationship to flourish.

We were fortunate that we had a wake-up call when our friends divorced. I’m telling you today that you don’t have to have a wake-up call to decide to place your marriage as a priority.

According to the Heritage Foundation, federal and state governments spend $150 billion per year to subsidize and sustain single-parent families. Only $150 million is spent to strengthen marriage. To put that into perspective, for every $1,000 spent to deal with the effects of Family disintegration, only $1 is spent to prevent that disintegration.

If you are married, speak positively about your spouse enough that he or she hears how much you actually like them from a third party. Encourage your friends who are married. Don’t let your friends speak negatively about their spouses – certainly do not encourage it. You don’t know the whole story.

It’s better to get regular oil-changes and check-ups on your car than to neglect maintenance and hope it will last for 200,000 miles. It’s no different in your marriage.

The result of Tom and I attending one weekend marriage retreat together is that our marriage is a priority. We are not a statistic. Tom and I were inspired to begin the Celebrate Marriage program at our church to give married couples a supportive community. Celebrate Marriage gives couples the opportunity for Christ-centered marriage enrichment through large group, small group, and individual couple experiences.

Marriage enrichment programs are becoming more common. The government statistics do not show that they are in the business of supporting existing families before they are broken. We, however, can take a stand and do our small part in giving hope for marriages in the future.

Tom is not responsible for my happiness. I am. He cannot make me happy any more than he can make me change my mind about my favorite kind of chocolate. I learned how to take charge of my own happiness and not put the responsibility on Tom. Tom can make me happy, but he is not in charge of my happiness.

It is true, my husband doesn’t always make me happy and I’m okay with that.

Is your marriage worth one day?

The best thing that Tom and I have done in our lives has been attending a marriage retreat.

Who helps you to improve your marriage? Does your spouse or your kids? What about your boss? Do you remember all of those extra training hours your boss required for an improved marriage? Me neither.

As married couples, oftentimes we see a marriage retreat as a place for those “other” couples, you know, the ones who have problems.

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We forget to take time for our own marriage, and in the Catholic church, our covenant. Tom and I believe we are called to marriage just as a priest, deacon, or nun is called to religious life. The church is Christ’s bride as I am Tom’s bride. Our loving relationship is built upon those grounds.

I remember going above and beyond the minimum requirements we were instructed to complete before we were married in 2002. We attended a Tobit retreat and met multiple times with a sponsor couple. We even decided that we would review what we learned each year on our anniversary. As each year passed, we would reminisce about our wedding. Seldom, maybe once or twice, did we open our marriage preparation books. I thought we had a great marriage. Of course it wouldn’t fail.

It was several years after we were married when we kept hearing about our friends’ and some family members’ relationships ending. None of the divorces came with much, if any, warning. That was when Tom and I decided to take a step towards strengthening, not just coasting along in, our marriage. We too had become roommates and were far from God’s call for our marriage.

Our experience at the Worldwide Marriage Encounter retreat (WWME) brought us back together. Christ became the center of our marriage. It continues to break our hearts when we see broken and struggling relationships. A belief that God wants the best for all marriages continues to inspire us to provide ongoing opportunities for enrichment through the Celebrate Marriage ministry. We continue to answer God’s call to share our journey.

We would like to offer you a day away from the everyday routine. Is your marriage worth one day? Take a day just for you and your spouse to focus on one of God’s greatest blessings, your marriage. Married couples of all ages are invited to join us for the annual one-day retreat, “Celebrate Marriage”, at Our Lady of the Greenwood.


August 22, 2015
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (A special marriage blessing will be offered at the 5:30 PM mass)
Cost for this event: $15 (includes materials, childcare, and lunch)
Register online by clicking on Celebrate Marriage

Our Radio Debut

Today is our radio debut. Tom and I were interviewed by a talk show host who goes by the name “MJ” at Catholic Radio Indy. The program is called “Faith in Action.” This is the first time that I will hear myself speaking with Tom to share the love for our ministry.

If you would like to listen to the program this week, online or or the radio, you can tune in to 89.1/90.9 FM or online here: Catholic Radio Indy.

You can also listen here: Listen to Podcast Now