Couple used phrases, signals to foster better communication - Catholic Courier
A man in a tuxedo and a woman in a dress smile.

(Photo courtesy of Leonor Rivera)

Couple used phrases, signals to foster better communication

My husband, Ed, and I learned that we could sometimes use hand signals to pause a communication going wrong. We also used funny phrases to de-escalate arguments. We used loving phrases to tell each other it was time to end an event and go home.

If I was telling Ed about a problem and he started offering solutions, I would make a T with my hands to call a “time out.” This helped Ed remember that I just wanted him to listen. He exhaled, knowing he didn’t have to solve my problem. I felt loved.

When Ed and I started to argue over something silly, one of us would remember the movie “Ghostbusters.” Bill Murray described the supernatural chaos by saying, “Dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria!” One of us would say this, and we would both laugh. This reset us.

At fundraising events, when Ed was ready to leave, he would look at me lovingly and gently lean over and whisper in my ear, “I want you all to myself.” I would melt like butter, especially if he was wearing his tuxedo. We quickly went home to a romantic evening.

After Ed died, I got very sick. I was homebound for months. I was feeling so sad and lonely. I asked God “why” over and over. One day, in the silence of my heart, I heard, “I want you all to myself.” I got chills. God used Ed’s loving words. Suddenly, instead of feeling lonely, I felt cared for, loved and wanted by God. I stopped struggling and asking why. Instead, I rested and slowly got better while trusting God to be alone with me like I trusted Ed. Now I feel Ed and God both when I’m quiet and relaxed and open to being loved.


Leonor “Leo” and Ed Rivera were members of the local Worldwide Marriage Encounter community for 32 of their 34 years of marriage until Ed unexpectedly died of a genetic heart defect on Aug. 1, 2020.

The last Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend of 2023 is Nov. 10-12. All weekends take place at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua.

To read more of Leo and Ed’s blogs, visit

Tags: Catholic Marriage
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