White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Preparing for Marriage


Some thoughts as you prepare for your marriage Preparing for marriage is more than planning for the big day and cannot take the place of marriage preparation. After reading this article, perhaps you will to start thinking and talking about your relationship and marriage in yet another light This article was written by
Fr. James Balija.

Your relationship has developed like a seed planted in a garden. God's seed is love and some-when in time He planted it in you and encouraged you to carefully nurture it. Just like a seedling which has taken root it broke ground and became evident to others. When your family and friends think of one of you, they often think of both of you together. As the young plant of your love began to reach up into the light, you decided to take joint responsibility for it and, each other, thus you reached your decision to marry.

From its earliest days the church has looked at marriage as a sacrament, a visible sign of God's invisible presence since God is love. While your marriage day represents a public proclamation, it is really something which began early in your relationship and, with God's grace, will continue to mature.

About Gardens...

We've all read or heard about the story of creation and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Whether or not you believe in its literal veracity, the story offers us some insights into relationships and marriage. From the very beginning, God was involved in the lives of humans in a tender and loving way. Adam was lonely despite all the loveliness around him so God set out to provide him with companionship, thus creating the animals and giving Adam responsibility for them.Yet, Adam still longed for something more and God taking something out of the man creates Eve. In even he finds something of himself as well as something other than himself. In your relationship with each other you too found something that was missing from yourself in your partner but also found someone completely other which complemented you in a new and profound way. While that is great for beginnings its alone is not enough to sustain a relationship much less a marriage, it takes constant nurturing.

The Naked Truth

Like Adam and Eve you become naked to each other, not just in the physical sense but more importantly in the emotional sense. In the mating ritual, creation has made all of its life want to show its best side to attract a mate. Humans primp and preen just as much as peacocks. Because of our limited exposure to each other we don't immediately see the foibles and short comings of our potential mate until after we begin to live together. In fact, the earliest part of our relationship is on the very physical level even after the wedding day. The ancient philosopher Socrates advised a young couple over 3,000 years ago to place a bean in a jar every time the made love during their first year of marriage and to remove a bean from that jar each time they made love after the first year. The end result, he noted, was that the jar would never be emptied since we move into a different plane of our relationship.

Two Daily Exercises for your Love Life

There are two things that you can start to do that may help you in making this transition smoother. These are both easy and difficult. First, hug each other no less than six times per day. We all need the closeness that a hug offers, the feeling of being wanted, needed, loved. Look at little children as examples of this. How often have we noted that one of the first things they seek from us is a great big hug, to be nestled in our arms and made to feel warm, safe and loved. As adults we are taught or at least feel that we are independent beings and can take care of ourselves but this is far from the truth. We need to hold each other and support each other. It's also harder to argue and fight with someone while you are hugging them.

Secondly, we need to talk with each other fro at least ten minutes each day. However, in this dialogue we need to avoid discussing our jobs, home, car, vacation, relatives, the latest movie or TV show, video or CD; anything that is peripheral to our lives. We need to talk about our feelings about each other but done is a loving and supportive way. This is difficult for both men and women who see conversation in very different ways. From the male perspective we seek to answer problems and make concrete plans, whereas from the female perspective we need to share our hopes and cares. In our dialogue with each other we need to be mindful of from where the other is coming. It may only be the little things, at first, which we try to overlook because we love the other that need to be addressed. Not wanting to offend or make the other think we are nagging we put off saying something about the niggling issues which later become cannon fodder when we do get into an argument. Its too easy to start zinging each other with little barbs like "and on top of that I can't stand how you squeeze the tooth paste tube, or where you leave your dirty underwear, or why you need to hand your pantyhose all over the bathroom!" when you get into a true disagreement. It only clouds the real issue and makes reconciliation harder. Its becomes like pouring salt in a freshly opened wound.

How will your garden grow?

Your marriage, like a garden, will not just happen because you planted a few seeds, it takes constant attention and cultivation. Its too easy for weeds to develop and kill off the healthy young seedling of love. Our weeds are those things which become distractions to our relationship with each other. The television or computer can often become obstacles to taking the time to just be with each other. Children too can become an excuse to not take the time to work on the relationship. When children enter our lives we become caught up in their needs and rather than doubling our love we somehow tend to divide it giving our partner less than we did or should.

Temptation versus Commitment

As in Adam and Eve's garden we too have a tree growing with some enticing fruit. While we think we know better there are two fruit which easily entice us but need to be avoided. The first is the "the grass is greener on the other side" fruit. There will come a day or days when we start to question how we got into this relationship when we see someone else and fantasize how much better things could be if only... Its too easy to fall into this trap for if we yield to its allure we can only destroy ourselves and our partner, making us forget the joy and love we originally found with each other. But, there is a second fruit on this tree even deadlier than the first, and that is the "take it for granted" fruit. After a while we wake up in the morning expecting the other person to be there or do things and forget that we need to appreciate them in a special way. We need to appreciate the person as well as the action that occurs, we need to treat each other as special. We need to verbalize that appreciation and learn to perform random acts of kindness and love for each other.

As our relationship became apparent to each other we realized that it also changed, or should have changed, our relationship with others around us. For the most part, our family and friends began to respect our togetherness. Occasionally, however, despite the best intentions we and they can get caught up in trying to keep things the way they were. Parents, in fear of losing the special relationship they have with their child, may get in the way of the partners. Friends too can become jealous of the new comer who threatens a long standing friendship. Its easy to let this happen and you must learn to support each other and not get caught up in an adversarial role. As loving and caring people we love to give advice to those for whom we care most deeply lest they make the same mistakes we did. Our family and friends can be great role models just remember to not let their unsolicited advice become divisive for either your relationship with them or each other.

You are not Alone

God too needs to have a special place in our relationship since as the author and creator of love we have in Him the greatest model of selfless love. In the fullness of time he sent His son to be a model of love even to the point of giving up his own life out of a profound love for us. In those hours and days when we feel the most alone it is only an illusion we have created for God is with us. He gives answer to all our prayers but we may not always like the answer He gives because we, like little children, want things our way. In love we must surrender ourselves to each other and God, trusting to the depth of that love. When we learn to do this we also learn that we are not alone and that God will bear our difficulties and hurts and bring us to joy.

Your wedding day is the day you proclaim to the world your love and commitment to each other but every day should be your wedding day. Each day you should recommit yourselves to each other in love, support each other in word and action, avoid false temptations, learn to increase your love for each other so that it can grow to include others and be present to each other. Take the time to prepare yourselves for this great new life.

Peace and joy!

Please send comments/reflections to
Fr. James Balija

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