I received a text from sister. Her co worker is getting married, and was let down by her parish's one day, offered just once a year, pre-cana prep class. "I have spent more time looking for my dress, than I have preparing for my marriage."
I immediately began sending her links...Jackie and Bobby, Dynamic Catholics Passion and Purpose for Marriage...the Diocese of Bridgeport Marriage Preparation....certainly there is more out there for her to take advantage of.
But is there?
Some parishes offer a two day pre-cana...that's nice. I also came across weekend retreats for engaged couples. That's sweet. But marriage is until death, right? Marriage comes with the hope of children, bearing good fruit, laying ones life down for the other, crazy kind of sacrifice, sickness and health, richer or poorer. Me thinks we need more than a weekend to truly cover all of this.
I have been, over the last 24 hours, thinking about all of my friends who have failed in their marriages. I have been thinking of how close my husband and I came to failing our own marriage.
And I can't help but wonder...if we were all better prepared for marriage, could we have avoided the mess?
My sister called me last night; too much to say to text. "You know what my co worker said that I can't stop thinking about? She said, "marriage is a sacrament, right? How come we spend so much time preparing for other sacraments...a year...sometimes two...but marriage is just one day?""
I spent a year planning my wedding reception.
I spent days looking for my dress.
I spent weeks deciding on the flavor of my cake.
I spent months on the guest list.
None of those plans were ever helpful when we had no money, or when my husband had cancer, or when we felt resentful, or when he felt disrespected, or when I felt ignored, or when our children were in crisis, or when we didn't see eye to eye. Not in any of these real life, real marital circumstances, did the fact that our cake was tiramisu ever make a difference.
If I could do it over again, I would have prayed for my husband- to- be every day.
I would have prayed for our marriage.
I would have prayed to be a good wife.
I would have prayed before the Blessed Sacrament on the eve of our wedding day.
I would have prayed that God be in every detail, every plan of our wedding day and our marriage.
Sadly, all I prayed for was good weather so that our cocktail hour could be outdoors. And clear skin.
I am not implying that we shouldn't have fun planning a fabulous wedding reception. I sure did. Dresses, flowers, music...it should be a beautiful celebration. I am just wondering that with the focus on family, and the true definition of marriage, are we really doing enough to prepare young men and women for this vocation? Because really, when your wedding cake tastes better than your marriage, you have got a problem.
Of course, I am blessed. It didn't rain and my skin was flawless. I may have not known the *true definition of love when I said "I do", but by the grace of God I learned it in time to save what is now the greatest gift I ever been given: a husband who is a man of God, who would lay his life down for me, who has blessed me with four children, who runs our household with love and humor, who prays the rosary every morning, who loves me no matter how short I cut my hair....then grow it....then cut it again. We have had our share of rain, and my skin it's fair share of blemishes. But none of that changes the fact that I love my man. I love my marriage. I love the cleaned up, perfect days and I love the mud and the filth and the heavy cross days too. I love it and I love him because I now know that feelings are fleeting...feelings have nothing to do with love. We choose each other. We choose to keep God in between us. And we want heaven.
But not every couple makes it.
Not every family gets through the mess that life in this world can get mixed up in.
And I am left here wondering if that maybe, just maybe, pre-cana was a year long process...a full year...that couples would be walking into their marriage on a much more solid foundation; that maybe they would have a better chance at surviving the reality of life as one flesh when the honeymoon is over and real life slaps them hard in the face. Marriage is a sacrament, and I think we need to better prepare for that sacrament.
The wedding cake is fun to pick out, but even that top layer in your freezer goes stale over time. I say less time choosing the cake, and more time on choosing the sacrament.
*desiring the greater good for your beloved (that greater good is heaven!)