Marriage Enrichment Project #2 - Let Couples Lead the Way

Marriage Enrichment Project #2 - Let Couples Lead the Way

Every parish has great couples who shine with the signs of God's love. Invite them into marriage ministry! Marriage is a gift that the spouses make to one another when they give themselves freely and accept the other completely. They may not realize how their marriage can be a gift to the community, When their love overflows to bear and nurture children, when they serve the needs of others, and when they give witness to God’s mercy and love in all aspects of their life, married couples fulfill their vocation. Invite some married couples to partner with parish ministers to improve society, one household at a time. Here are some practical plans:

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Marriage Enrichment Project - Tapping Marriage Mentors

Many neighborhoods are blessed to have a married couple on the block that are the true “community makers.” This is the couple that everyone counts on to generate enthusiasm for the block party or to be the first to make a welcoming visit to new arrivals. When this special couple also happens to be Christians, their positive influence gives the Church a good name. People seek their opinion on moral questions or ask them to pray for their loved ones. They seem to enjoy working together in the yard and on church projects. Their dinner table always has room for another teenager. In such a couple, people witness the natural and supernatural dimensions of marriage, in the flesh.

For discussion:
1.    Think of a couple whose marriage you admire. Why do you admire them? What would you say are their best qualities? Do they have any weaknesses or flaws that you notice?
2.    What seems to make a marriage strong, despite the flaws of the spouses?
3.    In what ways can your marriage become a gift to other people, not only to one another?
4.    What practical steps could you take to extend encouragement or support to another couple that is struggling?
5.    What signs do you see that the love of a husband and wife benefits society? 

Your Marriage - "Spouses as Change Agents"

They say that when a man marries a woman, he thinks, “She’s the one I’ve been waiting for.  She’ll never change.” – and she always does.  And a woman looks at her man, and thinks, “He just needs a little work; after we’re married, I’ll help him change” – and he never does.  
The truth is that both men and women will change as time goes on:  

Biologists tell us that every seven years we have totally replaced all the cells in our bodies with new ones.  Our ideas, politics, interests have evolved over the years.  While research shows that personality tendencies (like introversion/extroversion) remain fairly constant throughout our adult lives, we still do change. Personal change and growth can become issues in marriage because we develop at different rates.  We hope our spouses will change for the better: become more patient; stop unhealthy habits; spend more time with the family; work less – or more; go to church more – or less, talk more – or less.  We are all works in progress.

Change sometimes doesn’t happen fast enough to suit us.  Your beloved may be oblivious to your dissatisfaction.  If he or she doesn’t realize their need to change something, a loving spouse can gently ask for change.   However, nagging, cajoling, and arguing get us nowhere and can make us even more miserable.  Successful couples recognize that the only person you can change is yourself.

Enlist your spouse as your partner in self-change.  When we are willing to change some behavior, to tell our spouses about our plan to change, and enlist their support in changing, energy for marital growth can be ignited in our marriages.  Our spouses, no matter what personal faults or issues they may have, will appreciate our efforts (They’ve been hoping we would!). 

What if your self-change strategy doesn’t light a fire under your spouse?  Despite your hopes and personal improvement efforts, he or she is resistant to or unable to change.  This is where the most powerful – and paradoxical – tool of marital change is at your service:  Acceptance.  When partners show each other love and acceptance they respond quicker to each other’s changes.  
Be ready to support any effort your spouse makes toward change, no matter how tentative or incomplete that effort is.  If he or she discloses a desire to change, be ready to help and not hinder the process. It may be that professional help is in order, but your role as helpmate is indispensable.  You are the one who loves your spouse the most.