Marriage making

“When I drove Marilyn to work we used mainly to listen to the radio, but since the course started we talk, nineteen to a dozen, about the last meeting.”

He was referring to the marriage preparation course he was attending back in the ‘60s. I was reminded of this remark when I read the emphasis on this subject in Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis suggested that the form of the course was a decision for the local church so I am considering some important issues, which might be considered. I have my battle honours through a diamond anniversary due this month, several years of running marriage preparation courses, and considerable experience of what can go wrong through years of remedial marriage counselling.

The information which a couple might need immediately comes to mind. I think of such things as handling financial aspects of money, bringing up children, sexual harmony, natural family planning and a shared understanding of the sacrament of matrimony. This is usually quite easy to provide, and often supplied by local experts. These topics can provide a basic structure around which the most important outcome can be built. Pope Francis identifies this: “Sadly, many couples marry without really knowing one another. They have enjoyed each other’s company and done things together, but without facing the challenge of revealing themselves and coming to know who the other person truly is.“ (p.210)

He is speaking here about the prime importance of the relationship itself, and the skills which are needed to promote it. Any marriage preparation course which does not major on inculcating the foundations of such skills is largely a waste of time. Let me give you a simple example. Imagine a ten minute talk on budgeting as a couple, followed by questions. Very useful, no doubt. But let’s suppose that the couples have been given a homework task to create a budget between them using a fixed sum of money. The results may vary, and often promote general hilarity, but, for many, it will be the first budget they have ever constructed. Then, in small groups, the couples will discuss their attitudes to money. Not only will they hear the view of other couples, but they may, for the first time, hear the real views of their partner. In this way they learn that such attitudes have a high emotional content related to temperament and personal backgrounds. And they begin to see how different approaches must be melded through respect for each other’s views.

This format: homework preparation, and discussion of different views under a skilled leader, can with ingenuity, be used for most of the key subjects. Imagine the value of a group discussion on whether it is important to share the same religion. Imagine a discussion on whether male and female attitudes to sexuality are the same. Imagine a discussion on the ideal size of a family. Imagine a discussion on in-laws. Leaders will not be manipulating conclusions but they will be contributing extra information based on broader experience, and ensuring that key questions are considered.

The importance placed on homework and discussion tells us that the one day, or one weekend, course is of restricted value. It does not allow for the necessary dialogue and development which the couples can only do on their own. This takes one evening a week for five or six weeks. That sounds a big demand but engaged couples welcome inexpensive opportunities to spend time together. If couples miss meetings the course is not being successful. We rarely lost a couple after the first meeting.

Participants are recruited through the parish, or several parishes working together. A chaplain is appropriate, but the main staff will be experienced married couples. Some kind of selection process is needed: not every couple, and indeed not every potential chaplain, is suited. They will need some training in the skills of group leadership, including the ability to tolerate views with which they don’t agree. And they will learn to spot the occasional couple who need personal counselling before progressing their relationship.

Like any long marriage, we too have had to cope with several adjustments in our relationship. The advent of children, career changes, illnesses, and retirement have been such occasions. Founded on our clear understanding of marriage as an objective, permanent sacrament in which we participated, we had to learn how to adapt through our respect for each other, expressed and understood in deep discussions. If we hadn’t, we might have ended up like so many couples we were to meet in remedial marriage counselling. In most cases, the difficulties were born from poor communication. It often required explicit training of couples in communication with each other – a skill which might, over the marriage, have saved many tears.

(While this column is published here on he correct date, it will not appear in the Catholic Herald until 22 July)

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Catholic Herald columns, Quentin queries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Marriage making

  1. Barrie says:

    Not having had the opportunity to attend a marriage guidance course 59 years ago my wife and I had to work it all out as we went along through many of the trials and tribulations Q has listed. Fortunately our children have had the benefit but along with the added emphasis that has not been mentioned of praying together as couples. Perhaps this has been present but not mentioned. I would suggest it as the foundation step in these vitally important courses.

  2. Brendan says:

    It goes without saying that the Catholic / Christian marriage – which is what we are specifically concerned about here – is under greater stress now than perhaps at any time , any of us can remember. We are talking ‘ crisis .’
    I found a ‘ summary ‘ of Amoris Laetitia ; part of which I believe gives an important direction in the use of pre-marriage preparation ( and perhaps in the need for later counselling ), in which prospective candidates should explore with their mentor/preparer /counsellor.
    Pope Francis quotes from Pope St. John Paul’s ‘ Familiaris Consortio ‘……..” If we fail to listen to reality, we cannot understand the needs of the present or the movement of the Spirit .” It’s worth just pausing moment to think about that!
    And so , set in concrete in society today , Pope Francis notes that rampant individualism makes it difficult today for a person to give oneself generously to another , exclaiming………” The fear of loneliness and the desire for stability and fidelity exist side by side with a growing fear [ existential ] of entrapment in a relationship that could hamper the achievement of ones personal goals.”
    This is the reality which a loving Christian community must present and explore with those aspiring to sacramental marriage from the outset , in order to ‘root out ‘ any misunderstandings /notions such a this, fundamentally anathema to the groundwork of ‘ marital love ‘….. if it has any chance of survival in a deeply secular , relativistic culture now embedded in most Western societies..

  3. galerimo says:

    Thanks Quentin – and for the work of years with helping couples prepare.

    We are married 37 years. Two things I remember from the Priest on the pre-marriage course we did was an exhortation to buy a bed that was as big as a acre of land. And his statement about it being a relationship of “Give and Forgive”.

    About 20 years ago we did a “refresher” and I am convinced it contributed even more to our relationship.

    The format impressed me with its cafe style presentation with my wife and I sitting together at a table and viewing video material in a huge screen with other couples sitting together at their tables. All the interactions were just between the couples themselves.

    I am trying my best here to refrain from judgement as I know every marriage is unique but my take on the huge breakdown crisis is the “opt out” clause that seems to come so easily as a first solution.

    I think preparation and refreshers are great ideas in any shape or form.

    I endorse the “acre of land” with less enthusiasm these days because of the back breaking bed making gymnastics it requires!

  4. galerimo says:

    Hi Brendan – separation and divorce is what I am thinking of. The experience I have with people in marital crisis or turmoil is how quickly this “opt-out” is seriously considered early on.

    As I say there are a lot of factors involved with the making of any one marital relationship. I wonder how much acknowledgement there is In the preparation for such a relationship of how this will be something that will go through many, many stages.

    In the context of a very fast moving society an instant solution or a quick fix has a lot of appeal. I think the celebrity model of marriage does also make an impression. These are social factors that influence “making marriages”. And that influence, in my opinion can amount to “if it doesn’t work, try another one”. Or early stage “opt-out”.

    Would you agree?

    • Brendan says:

      In reply to Galerimo July 15th.
      Just dealing with Marriage preparation which to me is a vital component of Holy Matrimony. I don’t recognise introducing deliberately an ” opt-out ” component at any level of marriage preparation. If it is included, it just amounts to poor catechesis and a secular distraction .bit like ‘ worldly ‘ consideration of ” pre-nuptial ” agreements. Not in my marital vocabulary ….and I would hope not in any Catholic/ Christian couples minds!

  5. John Nolan says:

    Old Welsh joke:

    ‘You know Blodwen’s getting married?’
    ‘I didn’t even know she was pregnant!’
    ‘She’s not!’
    ‘Oh, that’s posh for you!’

  6. Horace says:

    My first reaction when reading this post was of incredulity!
    A group meeting of “one evening a week for five or six weeks” would have been impractical.
    I was an acting Squadron Leader in the RAF Medical Service and stationed 60-70 miles from where my fiancee Mary was living with her aunt (she had come over from the Republic of Ireland).
    Before we married we did have a session with the Parish Priest but the discussion concentrated on the ceremony itself and the role of “best man”, bridesmaids etc.

    I was admitted to study Medicine in Ireland at University College Cork (where my parents, both doctors, had qualified) and a few weeks after arrival I was taking a pleasant walk on the Glanmire road when a car stopped just ahead and a fellow student , Reggie, put his head out and asked if I would like to come with them to Long Island. I gratefully accepted and on getting into the back seat found a friend of Reggie’s and his sister, a very pretty 16 year old called Mary, who had to move up and sit in the centre.

    Mary and I kept in touch during the 5 years that I was in University and shortly after I had been informed that I had passed my final exam I asked Mary to marry me. Her response was “Don’t be silly! You haven’t got a job – how could you support me!” She was, of course quite right! I still had my year of full time residence in Hospital to do and then my 3 years National Service. It was just over 7 years after our first meeting, when I was an Acting Squadron leader in the RAF Medical Service, that we could go ahead [I still have a copy of my letter to my Commanding Officer requesting permission to marry].

    Mary and I were both Catholics and had received the normal Catholic instruction at school about marriage. I, as a medical student, had a reasonable knowledge of the relevant anatomy and physiology of which Mary knew little or nothing.

    In spite of our ignorance we have had a wonderfully happy marriage for the past 64 years and have two children.

    All this without instruction in “… financial aspects of money, bringing up children, sexual harmony, natural family planning and a shared understanding of the sacrament of matrimony” etc.

    Is a ‘marriage preparation course’ really necessary or even relevant?

    • galerimo says:

      Congratulations Mary and Horace!

      What a wonderful story.

      The Glanmire Road is a beautiful walk on a summer’s evening!

      I think the journey teaches just as much.

  7. Iona says:

    Horace – I suppose a lot more was taken for granted at the time you married. Money, for example. It was taken for granted that the husband would earn the money and the wife would run the home and look after the children (if any). Now, earning, childcare, cooking and cleaning may be shared; and if a couple marry without having a clear idea of how they are going to share these out, each of them can easily end up being resentful of what the other seems to expect.

  8. Hock says:

    I do sometimes wonder if I am in a different Catholic World to every one else. Their world seems a lovely ordered place with weeks of marriage preparation shared by two devoted Catholics who live in different houses prior to marriage.
    The Catholic world I inhabit consists of married couples who have lived as man and wife before they ever set foot down the aisle. As often as not their children are bridesmaids and page boys, and in some cases the Best Man.
    The couple are well versed in financial matters having shared them for years. As often as not only one half of the couple is a Catholic and the other half has no loyalty to the Church beyond being married in ,and making use of, one of its buildings.
    In many cases neither of the couple are regular Church goers and never set foot in a Church once the ceremony is over . It is down the aisle and away never to be seen again.
    As for marriage preparation, this is optional, and rarely on offer. Even where there is one attendance is not compulsory, is often poorly attended and then by only one half of the couple.
    A marriage between two committed Catholics who are not already living together is as rare as hen’s teeth.
    My world is all there is as far as I can see. The idea of months of marriage preparation is cuckoo land. It was long ago consigned to the ‘out’ tray.
    This other Catholic World of happy couples who joyfully attend months of marriage preparation and come together sexually for the first time on their wedding night must exist somewhere, but I’ve never seen anything like it for many decades in a UK Diocese that I am familiar with and I never expect to see it in the future.

    • Quentin says:

      The sad picture you paint is easily recognised. While it has been so for decades, the situation appears to have worsened markedly. Just a couple of points.

      We should of course welcome couples who cohabit but who now wish to make the commitment of marriage. But such couples often need preparatory help because such commitment changes the psychology of the relationship. The figures show that marriages after cohabitation are more vulnerable than others – including those who already have children. In some instances, the decision to marry is spurred on, consciously or unconsciously, by the fear of the parties that their relationship is vulnerable.

      The Catholic Church must continue to offer services which support, by action, the value it puts on marriage. After all, we provide instruction for the baptism of adults, and for confirmation. Do we think the sacrament of marriage requires no preparation?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin
        Why would a couple who are not practicing their faith wish to marry in Church.
        Of course the sacrament of marriage requires preparation as to how their lives will have to change if they become practicing Catholics.
        Even in a mixed marriage the Catholic partner has the duty to practice their faith.
        Now a days I read that the non-Catholic has no duty to bring any children up a Catholic but must agree to Baptism, that does not let the Catholic partner off the hook!! Even for the use of contraception.
        My husband was a Methodist lapsed but had to sign that the children would be brought up in the faith (1962) Also he knew what his responsibilities were with regards to birth control!
        He did not need instruction from a priest-although he did from the priest where he was living in the West Country. My Parish priest said I did not need any,
        I think it is sad that nowadays debt is involved in families now which can incur stress and breakdowns, in our day we did not borrow, we lived within our means. If we couldn’t afford it we did without!

    • Martha says:

      Thank you for this, Hock. I am afraid I recognise what you say with some of our children. We did not succeed in weathering the confusion after Vatican II as well as St. Joseph for instance. Neither we, I am afraid, nor our parishes and schools, emphasised enough the message that believing in Christ and following Him is joyful but difficult, and means undertaking a way of life which is in many respects very different from that of their contemporaries.

    • tim says:

      And not money only. Well-instructed catholics like Horace and Mary knew
      a) that it was wrong to sleep together before marriage
      b) that marriage was for life.
      How many leaving catholic schools today understand that?

    • tim says:

      Hock, you mustn’t despair.

  9. Iona says:

    Maybe in Poland, or Malta?

  10. Hock says:

    I’ve never been to Poland and sadly the Polish people who attend Mass here have their own services so there is an in built separation (segregation to give it a horrible truth.) So how they go on about marriage preparation I have no idea.
    I have though been to Malta. I found even Sunday Mass attendance lamentable; so I hold little hope that the marriage situation there is any better than what I have seen in the UK.

  11. Hock says:

    Quentin,
    I regret if my blog contribution suggested that we should not welcome cohabiting couples who now wish to marry. I would though question their motives because they could be quite different to couples who are unattached prior to marriage and these motives might be far removed from a desire to receive the sacrament. (A generalisation I know.)
    As for marriage preparation courses I have only limited experience but I would be happily amazed if there were more than a handful of such courses in most Dioceses in the UK.
    I was married in a Catholic Church over forty years ago and had not one minute’s ‘preparation.’ None was on offer. I was a parishioner.
    I do think that Bishops seem content to issue proclamations about six months ‘prayerful preparation’ as though this happens simply because they say it shall. I cannot imagine for one second that there is any kind of inspection process in most dioceses to ensure that it happens; and that there will be no marriage without a preparation process.
    Just one example and I hope this does not sound racist in any way. The travelling community are often Catholics by inclination and history. They like to marry in a Catholic Church. Do you really believe that they will put themselves forward for a six month preparation course, or indeed it will be demanded of them?

  12. Brendan says:

    Following the lead from our Supreme Pastor ( Francis ) ; there is evidence that at least one of our Bishops is prepared to put forward a progressive agenda to meet the needs of today’s ” reality “, for young Catholics to look up to The Church for leadership in a confusing and faithless environment. Bishop
    Egan of Portsmouth is laying the seeds of reform in the Explore programme in parish life . What he seems to be advocating is the pre-eminence of marriage in the life of the Christian Community living in the world at large, something which our everyday world has largely rejected; too the effect that only the Christian Community ( The Parish Faithful ) has the means, and can act as catalyst to renew and perfect society at large……..and in doing so put oneself / The Christian Community firmly rooted on the road towards perfection ( holiness ) by association.
    In other words , ” you have to get them young ” – the worlds mantra…. theist or a-theist ! Let’s hope and pray other Bishops in turn will sit up and start to ” smell the coffee ” in this respect.
    The reality today for those of a certain age ( whether we like it or not ) is that modern youth live in a different ‘ way ‘ rooted in a sense of individual purpose in a sea of competing moral relativism. The preparation marriage course for couples must of necessity accept that this is the life that most young people now accept as the ‘ norm’ in their lives and their familiars ,even if they struggle to reject such notions themselves.
    To incorporate this ‘ real ‘ world , I can imagine a vital component of say a twelve month marriage preparation ( the length depending on the eligibility/standing of the candidates ) would be to organise a social evening /day out in a local nightspot/ area festival to experience life in collective social activity conversant with the candidates for Holy Matrimony accompanied by those leading the preparation – be it priest , deacon, religious or laity couple. All could meet as soon a possible later to discus ‘ what went on ‘ in the light of their own beliefs and their proposal to covenant themselves as couples in the Sacramental marriage , in light of Church Teaching.
    For example , I’ve just returned from a weekend at Bristol Harbour Festival; in itself a very enjoyable weekend . However , I perceived an all pervading sense ( in certain quarters ) of a disturbing lack of moral parameters with which Catholic youth in an uncontrolled milieu are confronted with today, largely fuelled by alcohol. The temptation to conform is obvious ; the degree to which some issues grate
    against the ” sensus fidelium ” is palpable.
    I will leave it there for the moment…… I apologise ; I have a pressing engagement.

    • tim says:

      God Bless Bishop Egan!

      He has issued a ukase that people who wish to get married in a Catholic church in his diocese must give a year’s notice – and attend an approved marriage preparation course. I hope it sticks! The theory is that people plan their weddings these days a long time in advance. I know two young people who attended a catholic marriage preparation course some years back – and were a little saddened to discover that they were the only couple in the group who were not already sleeping together.

  13. St.Joseph says:

    Brendan.
    I know what you mean. Uncontrolled alcohol and sexuality amongst some teenagers are the devils medicine.
    Entertainment and our Catholic faith can be acceptable, my husband and I and our two teenage children nearly 40 years ago went by boat (we were fortunate to own one in those days and not having too much time for long holidays running a business) from Gloucester Docks mooring in Bristol Harbour. It was very entertaining.
    We went to Holy Mass at St Mary’s on the Quay and I went to Confession on the Saturday.
    Even in those days young people were drinking too much and it is a shame, how can they enjoy themselves when they probably cant remember what they did.

    • Brendan says:

      St.Joseph – My twin sister is fortunate to own …I suppose a maisonette on one of the quays; otherwise it would be too expensive a weekend to contemplate Bristol Harbour Festival from our perspective. I wonder sometimes how young families can afford some of the expense. It is obvious that prices are inflated just for that weekend…. which in some cases amounts to unashamed profiteering. But with some youngsters money seems no object when it comes to alcohol. However , it probably has always been the case although alcohol related bad behaviour in city centres today is more rampant.
      But what is so different and I what I believe is behind this increase today, is the way that an individualism which is almost narcissistic in its demeanour seems to manifest itself in so many young people both in attitude and behaviour. This appears to me such like a complete loss of innocence among’st large swathes of youth culture ; as if somehow they have grown up too quick for their own good , encouraged by a society that not only condones amoral behaviour but presents it as a positive image to British youth culture.
      This kind of

      • Brendan says:

        Sorry…… I pressed the wrong button; I will continue.
        This kind of moral abandonment of basic believe into uncontrolled sensuality is against every bone in my Catholic body… as it should be to all who profess The Faith. It is no good hiding the fact that drunk or sober that is what is put firmly before British youth today. It is in this context that young couples must struggle – among’st all the other vexatious issues , financial , psychological etc. – to keep their Faith meaningful in their lives. I believe God will question all of us on this when we are called to account … either now or in some future time of His choosing. Our Bishops and Priests have a heavy burden to bear knowing this probability and we must pray earnestly that change will come quickly to arrest this disastrous situation that does not bode well for the supposed future ” marriage made in heaven “.

  14. Brendan says:

    Good Night. God Bless !

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan. Thank you’
      The unfortunate thing is that in some cases girls who sometimes are no better than boys become pregnant ,I being a teenager in London know it was better than now, it probably is more open now and in public places. There were policemen walking the streets many years ago. If a girl became pregnant it was a big scandal!
      In the fifties the most horrific thing I can remember was the mods and rockers and a few breakings of cinema seats when rock and roll came in. btw I was not involved in. But still enjoyed my teenage years. Thanks to faith,
      We must pray and live in Hope for those who do not have the opportunity to be involved
      in religious activities. However as you said perhaps our Bishops will encourage the young like I see on EWTN. then they wont go seeking something better outside the church. Then marriages will be made in Heaven.
      It is a problem!

  15. Iona says:

    I remember reading somewhere that in the ’50s a bottle of spirits cost the equivalent of a working man’s weekly wage (I say “man’s” advisedly, as women were often paid less at that time). Consequently working men didn’t tend to drink spirits but stuck to beer. The cost of spirits relative to income now makes alcohol far more accessible, in consequence of which more people are drinking more. Of course, there’s more to it than that. Drinking in the street, or on public transport, is now tolerated, – reluctantly, perhaps, but it is tolerated, whereas 40 or 50 years ago I don’t think it was.

  16. tim says:

    A bottle of Gprdon’s Gin (in the late 50’s) cost 30/-. (very occasionally I used to buy one). What the working man’s wage was I don’t know – but I started work in December 1960 in a trainee’s job at £50 a month net – and married on that in April 1961. It was some years before we bought gin at all regularly. In pubs, in those days,as you say, people drank beer. I am hopeful that drinking in public is becoming less tolerated – you can’t do it on London Transport. What is acceptable changes – drink and driving are far less often combined now.

  17. Hock says:

    I discern yet another Quantum Leap on this blog from Marriage preparation in 2016 to the price of gin in 1950. Is there a link I am missing ?

  18. Brendan says:

    Catholic marriage is special. It is not just a civil contract which two people promise to uphold the conditions of their chosen state. It is a ‘ covenant ‘ initiated by God to which a man and a woman give their ‘yes ‘ too , in order that He may bestow his favour and blessing upon them in unity of Divine love. This echos the covenants of old in the Old Testament.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan.
      Quite correct. Therefore couples need to know and understand what the Sacrament means and what The Lord expects of them.
      Perhaps that is what Pope Francis is saying.
      All this sex instruction I don’t believe makes things better either.it encourages hormones to be active before they are ready to cope with it. It has not stopped pregnancies even though they use contraception. and taught it.

  19. ignatius says:

    I hate gin. Once got terribly drunk on it at one of those student parties you are all busy deploring. Never touched the stuff again. Having spent many years stumbling along with my ” disturbing lack of moral parameters..” I feel rather unqualified to join this discussion.
    I have though just spent the last 3 years with close ties to catholic students at a Midlands University, courtesy of my daughter, who was President of the Catholic Society there. I don’t think all is lost just yet. My own experience teaches me that God is quite capable of restoring the years the Locusts ate. The notion that those who have been forgiven much, love much, is true I think. Realistically speaking, much marriage talk needs to be ongoing and accessible to those in difficulty too. But it is a shame that we have to learn that way.

  20. Horace says:

    I have some sympathy with Hock – although I am not quite so pessimistic!

    There still are plenty of good marriages between practising Catholics, but not everyone is lucky enough to know their intended spouse for years before resolving to marry. People no longer live with or close to their parents and so it is common for a couple to meet, fall in love, and wish to marry when they have only known each other for a short time. It is in this, increasingly common, situation that the idea of ‘marriage preparation’ has an important place.

    There are also good marriages between Catholic and Non-Catholic individuals.
    [My father was an Anglo-Irish Protestant – a thoroughly good man whom I cherish and respect. However I must admit that I could never consider marrying a non-catholic.].

    I am not sure how marriage preparation courses fit into this situation.
    Do we expect a non-Catholic who participates in such a course to be at least willing to consider converting to Catholicism? Or should proceedings be entirely ecumenical?

    No problem with some points e.g. “handling financial aspects of money,” But in the case of others e,g. “bringing up children, sexual harmony, natural family planning” there are inevitable differences.
    (St Joseph above “Even in a mixed marriage the Catholic partner has the duty to practice their faith”.)

    I was lucky in that my Father sent me to a Jesuit school. He always claimed that he was not bound by the promise that I should be brought up as a Catholic because that promise was was required “under duress”, nevertheless he admired the Jesuit claim “Give me the child …. and I will give you the man”.

    Incidentally he always insisted that my mother and I attend Mass on Sundays and Holidays of Obligation. [He would take us to the church; return home and prepare breakfast; and collect us again from the church.]

  21. Brendan says:

    St.Joseph. – Earlier I gave an example of how I hoped marriage guidance would proceed by installing a live ‘ social ‘ component to marriage guidance in exploring real life situations. During my weekend break in Bristol I experienced a group of young men among’st a very lively and
    entertaining crowd in a bar we returned too for its good music. They were hugging each other , and one ‘ couple ‘ occasionally kissing each other on the lips. In a cosmopolitan city like Bristol , this was of course ‘ de rigeur ‘ and completely acceptable .
    The point about exploring social ‘ norms ‘ then from the Catholic perspective , is to focus on just what a ‘ marriage ‘ means. While civil/ secular society may feel it can allow any two people ( irrespective of their gender ) to seal their union in marriage ; in the Catholic Churches understanding , this cannot be regarded as a ‘ true ‘ marriage ( for reasons I explained earlier ) – although in civil society citizens are free to take it up , as being legitimised.
    This is an example of British ‘ life ‘ now , that young couples I’m sure will want to explore during pre-marriage courses and be confirmed and strengthened in their beliefs by the Church.
    Personally , I usually find young people eager to know the Church’s position on everything. That is the challenge facing us all. I pray we have the courage to take it up in its/our various ways , for the sake of the coming generations and the future well-being of the mystical body of Christ ….that is us The Church.

    • ignatius says:

      Yes, it is my experience that young(ish) people have this curiosity, because they are in the business of forming their own lives and, contrary to popular expectations, most want to live happy, productive and fulfilled lives.It is true that a self centred existence will naturally pivot around the appetites but there is ,in most persons I think, an appetite for decency and rightnesss; otherwise we Catholics have the whole ‘Made in the image of God’ thing simply wrong.

      I was talking to a group of my students a few weeks ago about marriage being for life ‘and not just for Christmas!’ I asked them if they had considered the possibility that the person they married might well be the one they nursed, or were nursed by, in old age. This provoked quite some thought. among the mostly atheistic group. Really we are just talking about the opportunity to chat over some issues affecting our lives, most people welcome that.

      • Brendan says:

        I agree Ignatius…” It is true that a self-centred existence [ pursuit of ‘; individualism ‘ as a philosophy now replete through Western society ] will naturally pivot around the appetites “….
        That’s why we must encourage our young people closer to the Church ‘ community ‘ and let them consistently breathe freely the Gospel of Jesus Christ…. something that will ” set you free ” John 8;32 ….more genuinely than any amount of this worlds ‘ individualism.’
        We have in the Saints past and in the Saints today !

      • Martha says:

        That is wonderful Ignatius, and reminds me of my husband saying before we married 53 years ago, that one advantage of our six year age difference was that I would be able to look after him when we got older! I was more than happy with the prospect at the time, and will still be happy to do what I can if the need arises, though it still hasn’t. We were not very young at the time, 33 and 27, so more ready to look further ahead than some of your students maybe.

  22. tim says:

    TS Eliot “The Cocktail Party”, on marriage:
    “Is that the best life?
    It is a good life, Though you will not know how good
    Till you come to the end.”

    Now much nearer the end than the begining, I will vouch for the truth of this. When I asked my future wife to marry me, I had no notion or inkling of how much she could and would give me. We have been incredibly fortunate together. But (as Charlie Brown says), now that I know that, what do I do? I’m full of admiration for Quentin’s marriage counselling work. But what is it important to tell couples planning to marry? And when we know what to tell them, how do we get them to believe it?

    • ignatius says:

      Thanks for that ,Tim. Eliot really is good isn’t he? Your last sentence is the very heart of the matter, its a matter of:
      ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        Yes, The answer to a happy marriage is ‘Not to do as I Say- But to do as I do!
        If you are both on the’ right track’ going in the same direction neither will be lost.
        ( Speaking spiritually ) On the road to Heaven.

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