Sunday, May 13, 2012

Preparing for Marriage

By Nicole Fernandes

"It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.”

My fiancĂ© Ivan and I met as college freshmen at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, during the spring of 2005. We were nineteen and eighteen years of age, respectively. After dating for six years, Ivan and I became engaged on May 14, 2011.  It was an exciting time for both of us as well wishes poured in from family members and friends who were anxious to know one thing: our wedding date!

When Ivan and I sat down together with our parents during the summer of 2011 and decided that July 21, 2012 was going to be the day we would say “I do,” we didn’t quite realize the year-long spiritual journey that lay ahead of us.  Engaged parishioners in the Diocese of Arlington are required to initiate marriage preparation with their parish priest at least six months prior to the intended wedding date - even if the wedding will take place in another diocese (our wedding will take place in our hometown of Charleston, WV).

When we told our families, friends and co-workers about our preparation for marriage, they immediately assumed we were referring to choosing wedding invitations, picking gift registries and arranging seating charts.  Preparing for marriage in the Catholic Church involves so much more than that.  We had our first meeting with Blessed Sacrament Parochial Vicar Reverend Anthony Killian in October 2011, during which Ivan and I took the FOCCUS survey.  The purpose of the survey was to provide Father Killian with an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of our relationship so he could help to improve our readiness for marriage. The results of the survey drove our conversations with him over the course of our six meetings and gave Ivan and I the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics like parenting, finances, career goals, and intimacy.

In January of this year, Ivan and I joined over eighty other couples from various parishes within the Diocese of Arlington at the Conference for the Engaged, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna, Virginia. The goal of the conference was to stimulate reflection and discussion on key aspects of marriage and family life including intimacy, family planning, parenting, and communication. It was a wonderful experience to be able to relate to other couples who were also embarking on the same journey as us.

During the course of our year-long marriage preparation, Ivan and I realized that our love for God is the most essential aspect of our relationship and our faith would be the focal point of our marriage.  It is so important for engaged couples to grow in their faith and in their love for each other by praying together, reading Scripture and becoming involved in various Catholic ministries.  Ivan and I plan to continue our spiritual development through July 21 and beyond so we can grow in our faith together and become closer to God and to each other.

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