When I stood at the altar 7 years ago, I could have never imagined what would happen in the next 7 years: mother to 4, several job changes, a growing business, a move, and some emotional issues that I’ve had to work through. All I knew is that I loved my husband and we would be starting an adventure together.
So I’m thankful that we were surrounded by other married couples who could give us some good advice to make it through the bumps of those first few years. “Love is a battlefield,” as Pat Benetar put it, and we can learn a lot from those who’ve been in the trenches longer than we have. We’ve asked some couples who took the CatholicMarriagePrep.com course before they got married what advice they would give to those just starting out on the journey called marriage. Here’s what they had to say:
“Marriage isn't easy but find your common ground and goals and work towards them. My wife and I think of ourselves as a team. We know that tough times are what you make them. We know that doing things together and talking through issues makes us stronger. We stay open about finances, which can be a giant friction point in marriages. Being able to compromise but also make decisions together makes you a great team. Find common interests and enjoy them together.” - John and Bethany
Questions to ask yourselves: What common interests do you share together? What common goals do you have? Make a list. Do you have a plan for your finances? Do you communicate about that plan and budget for it?
“Marriage is a union of three: man, woman and Jesus. Receive Jesus in the Eucharist from the very beginning. Also, try to die to self and think of the other first, so that two independent people learn how to become one in marriage. Like Christ died for the Church, the husband gives his life for his wife and she for him. It’s not about what you can get but what you can give to the other, which involves sacrifice and compromise. Keep a sense of humor, actively listen, be patient and pray for your spouse because you will see things from different perspectives but God will give you unity. Don’t try to fix your spouse, and we say again, don’t try to fix your spouse ;-) Work on yourself, love your spouse and pray for them to God.” - Shawn and Kathleen
Questions to ask yourselves: Do I pray for my spouse? Do I try to fix him/her? Do I think of my spouse first? How can I better sacrifice for them?
“Take a course with CatholicMarriagePrep.com! Also make sure you know that marriage is not just a perpetual honeymoon where you always feel romantic and there are no problems. You can still love your spouse even when you don’t feel like the situation is romantic because there are many ways of showing love.” – Eliana
Questions to ask yourselves: How do you love each other even when you don’t “feel” like it? Make a list. What are other ways that we can keep the romance alive? How do you like to be loved? Make another list! You can also find out your love language here.
“Find someone you can laugh with. It helps smooth the rough spots. And I know its cliché, but marry your best friend. Yes it’s important to be attracted to someone, but remember that looks fade away. Marry someone you can talk to and share your deepest fears. And most importantly, marry someone who wants to grow in their faith everyday. Put God first!” - Tim and Joelle
Questions to ask yourselves: When was the last time we laughed together? What is your favorite funny memory of each other? How can we grow in our faith more together? How can we put God first?
So now I’ll add my advice: With a good foundation in Christ, your covenant of love can weather any storm. And, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Lay down your life: for your spouse and for your children, and for God, and you will find joy in the sacrifice and a depth to your love that makes it all worth it.
Lastly, no one is perfect. Be able to forgive and say you are sorry. And go to Reconciliation as often as you can!
So, there’s the advice. I hope you can sit down with your spouse to find ways to incorporate this wisdom into your marriage.