“Love is patient, love is kind…” – A reflection on marriage

"One thing becomes abundantly clear in the context of the 'missionary conversion' called for by Pope Francis: Christian families are themselves the principal agents of the family apostolate; especially through their 'joy-filled' witness." - From "The Joy of Love", A Brief Journey Through Amoris Laetitia, Catholic Organization for Life and Family 2017.

By Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

A friend of mine suffered from infertility for the first five years of her marriage. All she wanted was to have a baby and she poured all of her time and efforts into seeking help to make that happen. By the grace of God, she was able to have three healthy children and for the next twenty years or so, her life was totally consumed with her motherhood.

We were having coffee one day and she shared with me that if she could have possibly known or trusted that God had motherhood in His plan for her life, she would have spent more time intentionally getting to know her husband better. Then she lamented that the years following, her whole life was caring for her children and now, when they were about to celebrate 25 years of marriage, they were practically strangers.

Psychology Today says that “when a long marriage ends, the seeds of the marital failure may have been sown decades before.”

Raising a family and nurturing a marriage at the same time is hard work. It takes a village! Families need support from the Church through all of the joys and the trials of married life.

“Family Fun and Faith Formation”  will be presented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon on Friday, June 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family beginning with Mass at 5 p.m., followed by a barbecue at 6 p.m., childcare and fun activities for children and a presentation for adults entitled “A Path to Marital Fulfilment,” presented by Canadian authors and registered psychologists Melissa Guzik and Jean MacKenzie. Cost is $5 per person, six years and under free. Register online at https://form.jotform.com/230324272512242

“From this day forward…”

My grandmother was 16 years old when she got married and had her first baby shortly after. Baby Joseph died from SIDS at eight months old. They had four more children, raising them during the Great Depression. My Grandpa lost his eyesight later in his life due to complications from diabetes. Life was hard for them and yet they stayed together until Grandpa’s death in 1966.

Today, we face different challenges in our family life, some as difficult as my grandparents, some worse, some a little smoother. In my own marriage, we have gone through some difficult seasons and I believe that we were able to weather the storms because of our faith in God and because we have always invested time and energy into nurturing our relationship.

It was easy to do when the kids were young and they went to bed early. We made it a habit to turn off the TV (we didn’t have the added distractions of other devices at the time) and spend time talking. It became more challenging as the children got older and dynamics changed. We had to make more of an effort to make time for just the two of us. Now, when we are almost empty nesters, you would think that it should be easy to find the time to spend together. But alas, now we have devices that steal our attention. It’s hard to abandon that one last game of backgammon.

Something else that really helped us over the years was our involvement with Marriage Prep. When we were forced to prepare for sessions, the materials became a very practical communication tool for us. There are similar tools available for Marriage Enrichment.

One program is called “To Know, Love and Serve: A Path to Marital Fulfillment.” It’s an easy-to-read book that you can discuss privately with your spouse or use the accompanying workbook for a small group experience.

Authors Melissa Guzik and Jean McKenzie, Catholic Psychologists, will be here in Saskatoon on Friday, June 9 for our diocesan Family Fun and Faith Formation event. The evening begins with Mass at 5 pm, followed by a barbecue, and activities for the children. At 7:30 p.m., children will be supervised during activities in the hall at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, and couples will have the opportunity to hear Melissa and Jean’s talk on working to improve and enrich your marriage.

Every couple in attendance at Family Fun and Faith Formation will receive a free copy of the book, courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Council 8215 (Cathedral of the Holy Family, Saskatoon. Register online at https://form.jotform.com/230324272512242.

[Editor’s Note: This article is part of a regular “Fuel Up Friday” series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – to subscribe, contact diocesan Director of Ministry Services Marilyn Jackson at mjackson@rcdos.ca]