Our parish offers programs to improve our marriage. Why should we go to them when our marriage is already solid?
This is a common question; one that is often asked by couples who are comfortable in their marriage and who have no pressing issues at the moment. Thus, they can easily think they know what they are doing and are prepared for whatever is coming down the pike. After all, why fix what isn’t broken?
I’m not going to say that this philosophy isn’t true or valid, because it is. But, we all know that marriage is not static; it constantly changes. A couple who adopt this philosophy may find themselves scrambling when something bumps them out of their comfort zone or disrupts them in the future. They may be OK today, but what about next week? Next month? In a year or two?
Our office wants all married couples to have “solid” marriages that last a lifetime. That’s why we often ask complacent couples to take a realistic look into their future and ask themselves if they think they are prepared for what’s ahead. This simple question usually helps them see there is room for growth as a couple. Peering into the future gives them perspective that there is work to be done if they really want their marriage to last forever and to be joyful. There are very few couples who continue to think their marriage will remain solid without some assistance after contemplating what’s ahead of them.This is why many parishes offer support for their married couples The church cares deeply about the health and well-being of marriages. In fact, she believes every marriage is a witness to God’s faithful, fruitful and lasting love for His people. Parishes, in particular, have a vested interest in all marriages, because they recognize that marriages, and the families that flow from them, are the bedrock of their faith community. Solid marriages = solid parishes.
What exactly is marriage enrichment? It is an intentional process that couples use to strengthen their commitment to each other and to their marriage. It is a form of primary prevention where couples learn how to recognize and utilize daily opportunities to grow together in joy and love. In particular, marriage enrichment helps spouses learn how to live in ways that build up, rather than tear down, their relationship.
What type of support can a couple expect when they participate in parish marriage enrichment programing? In general, couples will be provided opportunities to sharpen interpersonal skills in communication and conflict resolution, deepen conjugal spirituality and strengthen the marital commitment to stay together until death. Additionally, most enrichment opportunities also provide ongoing support from other caring couples. The goal of marriage enrichment is to activate a couple’s love for one another and to strengthen their covenantal bond with God.
Parish-based marriage enrichment comes in many formats. Here are a few examples of what you might find at your parish: couple Bible or book studies; couple date night series; quarterly couple presentations; daily or weekly bulletin marriage tips; and couple adoration and prayer services.
Some parishes offer nationally recognized marriage movements, like Worldwide or National Marriage Encounter. The newest movement in the Diocese of La Crosse — the Domestic Church Movement — was originally created by Pope St. John Paul II. It provides lifelong formation for sacramentally married couples for the sake of achieving sanctity together, growing in mutual love and providing an environment where children can thrive and grow in union with Christ.
By Alice Heinzen, Director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life
All marriages deserve enrichment — even those that are currently solid. Consider elevating your spousal union and giving it more prominence in your life.
For more information about marriage enrichment opportunities in the diocese, visit diolc.org/enrichment/