Guest Blogger, Deacon Joe Donohoe, Father of PartySingers’, Joe Donohoe
INTRO: My dad is one of the smartest men I know! He is also the Director of Deacons for the Archdiocese of Denver. As a Catholic Minister of the Sacrament of Marriage, and a pre-marital counselor, I thought, ‘Who better to guest blog for Wedding Voices?’ We at PartySingers.com proudly provide wedding music for any creed, and we’re excited to have a Catholic prospective reflected here! ;)
The “Bucket List” for Pre-Marriage Preparation.
The movie “the Bucket List” featured two older men that wrote out what they wanted to do to live their lives to the fullest before they passed away. It’s a wonderful thought, but in reality, we should always prepare for major events in our lives; especially when it comes to making significant life changing decisions.
Preparing for marriage is one of those important decisions that is meant to be a life-long covenant; not just with the bride and the groom; but, most especially with God. In this blog, I will go over a “bucket list” of some significant preparatory considerations that should be made prior to diving into that important decision. This list will help a couple preparing for marriage establish a relationship that can help make their commitment at the altar joyful and for life.
1) Effective communication is key to any relationship; but is especially important in the permanency of marriage. A couple considering marriage should understand the four elements of communication; speaking, transmission, listening and feedback. Listening is, by far, the most difficult. Being able to listen to what you future bride or groom has to say, will allow for far few conflicts due to misunderstanding.
2) Knowing how to argue is related to communications but deserves its own category. Being able to argue in a way that is ineffective or is damaging to the your fiancé’s character can be disastrous for a marriage. The book, “Fighting for You Marriage” is a comprehensive resource on effective arguing techniques. Scripture tell s us to “never let the sun go down on your anger, the devil is waiting like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour” (1 Peter)
3) Know your future spouse well. Don’t wait until after the marriage to find out the differences between you and your future husband or wife. Talk about them and get them in the open before you are married. Subjects like, finances, children, job, religion, communication, friends, among others, are areas that can breakdown a relationship. Find a mature married couple you can talk to that can bring out these subject areas. Another method is to take a FOCCUS Inventory which is usually available at your parish or church.
4) Pick your friends carefully; especially, your best man and maid/matron of honor. Your best friends should have your best interest at heart and should be willing to defend your relationship as husband and wife. If they consider your marriage less than important, then they are not your best friends; in fact, they are not friends at all.
5) Find a good mentor couple. It may be your own parents or someone you know at work or church. But it is important that you have a good example to help guide you in your pre-marriage and post-wedding experiences. Even if they are older, this couple is likely to fill any void you have left from those single friends that are not around the house anymore.
6) Pre-marital sexual relationships are killers for a permanent relationship. It’s not that you can’t make the marriage work; however, the US Census Bureau bears statistics that indicate that those couples that live together before they are married are much more likely to be divorced or separated within the first 5-7 years. Pre-marital sex for those serious about having a relationship is a huge risk—which leads me to the next point.
7) Don’t take risks with your future spouse. If you really love your fiancé you will make sure that you minimize the risk of hurting him or her. This is especially true to the future bride. Women tend to suffer much more than the man when a break up occurs. She is often the one who is left with the financial, emotional, physical and psychological responsibilities. Think about it; in a break up, it is usually the woman left with the bills, the children, the dwelling, to name a few. Endow, a woman organization that teaches about the importance of the body– especially the sacredness of the female body, has a plethora of information on this subject. Treat her like she is going to be the co-creator, with God, of your children.
8) Don’t think counseling is just for married couples that are having troubles. Pre-marital counseling is not a bad idea and healthy marriages often involve some sort of counseling—even if the counseling happens between friends. Since this decision you are making is the most important decision you will ever make in your life; you will want to have as much information as you can acquire. It is better to work through difficult areas before you make a decision than to hope your fiancé will change after you are married.
9) Always look for ways to improve your relationship. There are an abundance of organizations that give talks and workshops on marriage and relationship building. A couple can also take a retreat or go on an engaged encounter or just go away for the day with some friends who are good mentors.
10) Praying together and a commitment to God are the most important elements of having a successful marriage and family life. When a couple gets married in a church, they are inviting the most important people they know to witness the marriage. One reason for this is that the newlyweds want to make their vows in front of those they care for the most. Because they are in church, this includes God. A marriage vow is by definition, a promise made to God. A 1982 study by an independent consultant group in Chicago found that 90% of all couples that pray together at home and in church remain married for the long term. Those that actively participate in their parish and church realize a 98% success rate. While this date is 30 years old, including God in your relationship has significant advantages to living a joyful life together.
This is not an all-inclusive list; but, these items are some of the things I discuss with engaged couples that come to see me for pre-marriage preparation. Love is a decision and this decision requires a lot of time and effort. It’s really all up to you and the person you want to spend your life with. But, if you are willing to make the sacrifice, you will be richly blessed with an abundance of grace and an incredible experience that, with the help of God, will last a life time.