Keys to Long-Lasting MarriagesSeptember 3, 2012 No Comments
September 3, 2012 / MariaNews.com
Keys to Long-Lasting Marriages
By Deacon Antonio Sandoval
My wife, Maud, and I attended a Marriage Encounter weekend in 1972. The weekend was presented by three couples and a priest. The couples shared their experiences of growing closer as a couple through the daily practice of dialogue, communicating not only their thoughts, but also their feelings. The priest spoke about growing closer to his parishioners in a similar way. Maud and I were so joyfully excited with the weekend that we decided Marriage Encounter was an organization we could support financially. But when we communicated our intention to one of the presenting team couples, they told us that they had something better for us. At the end of the weekend they invited us to attend a Team Training weekend so we could become a presenting couple.
This began a five-year ministry which we enjoyed very much. Marriage Encounter had a religious dimension. It taught that your relationship with your spouse runs parallel with your relationship with God. To have a good relationship with your spouse both of you needed to have a good relationship with God.
Marriage Encounter was advertised as a weekend experience designed to make good marriages better. So after being a team couple in Marriage Encounter for 5 years, Maud and I decided to help couples who were having serious problems in their marriages. We met with them couple to couple. Although couples’ problems were different, they had one thing in common: These couples seldom prayed, and they almost never prayed together as a couple.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux said in one of his sermons (early 12th century), “Love is a great thing so long as it returns continually to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it.” (Second reading from the Divine Office, August 20, Memorial of St. Bernard) That “fountainhead” is the God who is Love and the source of all love.
In our time, in the 1950s, Father Patrick Peyton, the Rosary Priest, said something similar, “The Family that prays together stays together”. And Bishop Fulton Sheen said that it takes three to make a marriage, the couple and God.
The next thing that fully convinced me that prayer makes long-lasting marriages possible were two sociological studies of couples who daily prayed together, read Scripture together, and went to Church on Sundays. These couples had a divorce rate of 0.2% compared to 50% for the general population. Just to make sure that my facts were up to date, at this writing, I searched the web for, “divorce rate for couples who pray together” and found a number of reports with results similar to what I have reported above.
There is another group of couples whose divorce rate is around 1% or less; these are couples who use Natural Family Planning when there is a good reason for postponing a pregnancy. This requires abstinence during periods of fertility. The couple must have the moral fortitude to practice self-denial, but the rewards are worth it. It is a healthy alternative to artificial contraception which has numerous harmful side effects. See www.familyplanning.net for information on Natural Family Planning and the harmful effects of artificial contraception.
Marriage is a God given privilege that allows us to participate in God’s plan for humanity. “Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race until the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls to his kingdom.” (Quotes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer about marriage)
Let us pray for healthy marriages because the families they form are the building blocks for a healthy society and a vigorous Church.
Read more by Deacon Antonio here
Antonio is a retired deacon in the Archdiocese of Denver. Last September his wife, Maud, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. They were told that she didn’t have long to live. Since she is 83 years old, they decided to refuse the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Last October they were sent to Hospice. They have now been there for 8 months. Antonio’s wife is not experiencing the symptoms of multiple myeloma other than the fact that she cannot move and has to stay in bed all the time. She is also in the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease. You prayers will be appreciated. Antonio spends the entire day with his wife.
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