While my husband and I have been married for nearly 14 years — and were married Catholic — I’ve not considered marriage in terms of a “sacrament” until my recent Catholic conversion. I never bothered to explore what Catholic marriage meant — and truly I had no clue that it meant more — because I simply wasn’t interested. Oh, how the rough patches of our marriage might have been smoothed more easily and quickly if I had… but I figure God called me NOW for a reason :).
Catholic marriage is FOREVER! As well it should be. I think that to enter into marriage with that mindset would make all couples stronger because they would know this is IT — no easy outs if it doesn’t go the way you planned. I believe you would enter into the marriage with both more thought and reverence.
I personally am the product of divorce and the daughter of one parent who’s been married multiple times. So it would be easy for me to say “eh, not working, let’s move on.” Thankfully, during the tougher days, we never said that and now we understand WHY we should never do that. “…what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
So, if it’s FOREVER, that’s going to require some work, some hard work! That means actively “doing” just like you said in your marriage vows. Not “I did” or “I will do”, but “I do now”! “Doing” means continually working to build a quality marriage, consciously making efforts to spend time with your spouse, and embracing Catholic virtues of obedience (on both sides), humility, self giving and, yes, even suffering, sometimes. These virtues have helped me approach my marriage in an entirely new way, which further elevates both our relationship and my relationship with God.
One of the ways you can “do” together is to go on a marriage retreat. I have heard many a priest and Catholic speaker encourage putting God first, your spouse second and your kids third. Those of us with kids tend to put them first, because they scream the loudest :), but in order to be good parents, the other two truly must come first. And this sets a wonderful example for your kids to respect God and one another, something they will carry with them into their own relationships down the road.
Taking a retreat, alone together, if it’s at all possible is a great way to reconnect and remember what attracted you to one another in the first place! Perhaps the ultimate marriage retreat is one I learned about recently from one my favorite hosts on Catholic Radio, Teresa Tomeo. Her show, “Catholic Connection,” airs at 9 a.m. Eastern weekly and on it she has often talked about how God saved her own marriage, which had started to fall apart over the years as they both focused on their careers.
Tomeo and her husband are leading a Roman Holiday Marriage Retreat (how amazing does that sound?!) for Catholic married couples who want to spend time alone together and enjoy the beauty of Italy and all of its spectacular sites. Couples renew their vows, attend daily mass at places like St. Benedict’s Montecassino and St. Peter’s Basilica, take a cooking class with the awesome Father Leo Patalinghug (he spoke at our parish’s Lenten retreat and he is so much fun!), and spend plenty of down time together to reflect on different daily topics.
While it’s not in the cards for my husband and I to go quite yet due to young kids and lack of someone to care for them that long, it sounds fabulous to us! Rome is definitely on my list and, secretly, I’m hoping we can save up to go there as a family for my 40th (about a year away) :). If you’re interested and available, they are also offering a $100 discount per couple if you sign up before September 20. All the information about the trip is on www.TeresaTomeo.com.
I’d love to hear from Catholic married couples about lessons learned over the years and how they keep the “do” in I Do. Have you ever done a marriage retreat? How did it impact your marriage? Please share!
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