In my line of work, I attend a lot of weddings. After all, my job involves preparing couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. Each engaged couple is unique in their story. How they met, their family of origin, past relationships, and the baggage acquired thus far play a part in how they view and live out their vows. Some have storybook beginnings. Others, after cohabitating, decide marriage is the next step. Still, others know they want a committed relationship after moving past a bad relationship. They all have in common the desire to find happiness and fulfillment in a life-long marriage. They believe this is the very person in which it is possible.
After a recent wedding, I was racking my brain, hoping to remember if we were given any sage words of wisdom at our Nuptial Mass over 42 years ago. Nothing came to mind. I give you this disclaimer; however, I barely remember what day of the week it is or what tomorrow brings without first consulting my calendar. With that said, I thought it would be a great little walk down memory lane to see if anyone else received useful or not so helpful information on that blessed first day of the rest of their lives together. (Comment below, please)
We recently offered a mini marriage retreat at the parish, and one of the sessions had us break into separate groups as husbands and wives. This proved to be very eye-opening and helpful. One woman opened up by stating that the “worst advice” they ever received on their wedding day was, “Don’t ever go to bed angry at one another.” She went on to say, “that advice almost cost us our marriage.” Many women agreed with her, including me. How is arguing into the night a worthwhile endeavor as sleep-deprived and angry are a dangerous combination? I recall teaching a marriage class to engaged couples a few years ago, and my husband proudly stood there and confidently proclaimed, “we’ve never gone to bed angry in over forty years.” If the shocked look on my face didn’t say it all, what came out of my mouth clarified. I stared at him in disbelief at such a ludicrous statement in front of sixty strangers and flatly replied, “Perhaps you may have never gone to bed angry, but there were times that I sure did!”
Other poor advice includes something about the woman always being right. We are not. Any marriage built on that selfishness is not a partnership.
The kind of marriage preparation our couples receive is invaluable. Had we had the same in-depth opportunity, it would have saved us years of misunderstandings and miscommunication. We really are wired so differently as men and women. Gasp! There’s a difference between men and women? Ignoring that crucial component in your partnership for life will likely play a part in many disagreements. It took me over thirty-five years to realize that Mark could not read my mind and did not know without being asked what I needed to be done. Women are more apt to look around the home and quickly conclude the necessary tasks that require attention.
On the other hand, changing the oil, keeping the license plate tags up to date, and a balanced checkbook came quickly to Mark. None of those things even register a blip on my radar screen. I have come to rely entirely on him in these areas of our marriage. There is a beautiful complementarity in the differences between the sexes.
So back to my original question. What advice, helpful or unhelpful, did you receive on your wedding day or since that has helped your marriage thrive? I invite you to share with us so that we all might benefit from this wisdom.
I leave you with this gem we had to learn the hard way. Love does not quit, measure or keep track. It is patient and forgiving and keeps on giving, even if it is the only one doing so for a time.
I welcome your marriage wisdom.
We have been married for 20 years and some of the things that we were told when we were in preparation for marriage was that 1. We were going to help each other get to heaven. We would be sanctified in our marriage. 2. We had to make a decision to love each day especially in the hard times.
Great advice and thanks for sharing!!
I have been happily married for 39 years and like every marriage there are challenges, decisions, and disagreements on where to hang pictures! LOL! In all seriousness the best advice I received is when we attended the engaged encounter weekend retreat in Santa Barbara, California. Now ask me what I remember? Can’t tell you the minutia of the retreat, but what I will never forget is this statement “LOVE ❤ IS A DAILY DECISION.” That was the most wow and profound advice moment for me! Words mean something! Those 5 words have been a tremendous help on how I am able to navigate and separate my emotions and intellect during the most harmonious times and the not so harmonious times. Each day my commitment to my marriage is to engage my will and say in my heart to my husband “I will love you today!”
Serving Jesus Christ the King
Anita Romero <
… maybe a part of me thought I have nothing to offer, given that I’m divorced, but in fighting Satan and his lies, the truth is I do.
He can read my mind.
It is his responsibility to make me happy.
False understanding of submitting to my husband, even when he was leading me down the wrong road.
Deepen your personal relationship with Christ
Wait one more minute, when you think you cannot because some decisions may be irreversible.
Forgive one another
Realize that true happiness can only be found in God.
Be courageous and stand in love when the other is lost or trying to lead you down the wrong road.
You will not always like him, but you are called to love him.
Frequent the sacraments.
Seek counseling individually and hopefully together if needed.
Know there will be suffering and unite it at the foot of the cross.
We have been married 19 years. On our wedding day, our priest gave us this bit of advice; “Pray the Our Father “, together every night. And I wish we would have heeded this advice, this gift. Our family was attacked as the family is attacked in this day and age. And it is only prayer and the Lord Jesus who saved our family.
Pray for your spouse every day! In the sacrament of marriage, we are called to help our spouse get to Heaven. It is part of what this sacrament is about. Pray for for your spouse EVERY DAY!
Simple, straightforward advice that we can all do. Thank you Ernestine
Hi Barb. I’m not an auditory learner, so remembering something told to me 27 years ago does not come to mind readily. BUT I do remember a wonderful gift we received. It was the Couples’ Devotional Bible. It gave us a way to pray together after reading scripture as well as reflect on questions related to the scripture and our current lives. It was revolutionary as we were never taught how to pray together as a couple beyond “Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts…” plus it gave us prompts to talk about topics we may have not tackled in our short courtship. I have given the same Bible as a gift at weddings, but I wish it came in a Catholic version.
The best advice I have received since our wedding day is to always remember that it is my job as a wife to get my husband to heaven, and it’s his job to get me to heaven. When you keep this in mind, prayer for your spouse comes more naturally as opposed to harboring anger which will keep you from heaven.
Excellent Libby thank you for sharing. Most times these simple measures have incredibly fruitful benefits.
Michael and Rachel, 5 years married
Hi Barb! I’ll leave a comment with one of the most helpful things in our marriage, while I continue to think of “bad advice” we’ve received.
From the Messy Family Podcast, we began to institute a weekly check in for our marriage. Thus, every Sunday evening – AFTER THE KIDS ARE ASLEEP – we check in with each other beginning with prayer, then asking each other some important questions, and ending with a basic overview of the week.
To elaborate: we’ve found lectio divina to be helpful, where we read the Gospel from that Sunday four times with breaks for silence/meditation in the middle. To be honest, if we’re just exhausted, we’ll read the gospel once or twice with some silence mixed in. After – and here’s the key – we ask each other what came up during prayer time. This is time of intimate sharing and praying together – even if your answer is, “honestly, I’m tired and agitated, so it was hard to focus during prayer.”
in terms of the important questions, we commit to asking each other and answering: “How have you felt loved by me this past week?” “How have I annoyed you this past week, and how can I improve?” “How have you TRIED to love me this past week?” – This practice has been incredibly fruitful – it’s a safe space to bring up frustrations or issues, rather than in the heat of the moment, while also giving each the opportunity to be aware of the ways they’ve felt loved and how the other has been proactively trying to love you (and vice versa).
Finally, the basic overview of the week’s appointments, plans, hopes, etc. has been incredibly fruitful for staying on the same page and perhaps preventing at least some miscommunication.
Wow Michael, such wisdom from one so young😃 I love it. Thank you for sharing
Great article Barb! Many couples will benefit from your work and caring. We started our marriage with no remarkable advice but have learned much over the years. The longer you are married the more experiences you will have both good and not so good. Open and honest communication is the best tool to work through these experiences. Some of the worst experiences produce some of the greatest bonds and memories. Look for the gems in the worst of times. Look inside of every challenge for a good memory. Don’t give up on your partner or yourself.
Hi Arlene, what great advice, thank you for sharing!!
Excellent-“some of the worst experiences produce some of the greatest bonds and memories.” Thank you
John and I have been married almost 37 years. I don’t remember being given any specific advice on our wedding day. Advice through out our marriage that has made our marriage thrive is to continue dating your spouse. It was not always easy to go on dates when our children were young, but as they got older we made date nights or daytime lunch dates a priority and still continue to do so. We love to go out and sit and talk about the past, things going on currently, and envision how our future might look. We continue to grow closer with each passing day.
Thanks Lorie- and a beautiful witness you both are
Great post Barb. Dave and I have been married for almost 31 years. We were told to never to go to bed angry lol…but we have gone to bed angry and by getting some sleep, things are definitely better in the morning. I would say the best advice I could give is to apologize (even if you believe you have nothing to apologize for). Marriage, love…it’s a two-way street…give and take. Just by apologizing, tension melts. More often than not, you’ll get an apology in return, and forgive your spouse. Make time for each other (date nights or mornings) are a must…and travel if you can. It’s beautiful to create those memories!!
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Excellent! Thanks Sharon
A comment from Bill
I pondered my past forty years, especially the wedding day and night. I do not recall any body giving me any marriage advice. That marriage exam we took in our preparation classes showed that there were several areas that we were not compatible, according to the exam. Of course, I was also unemployed at the time because I had just gotten laid-off, along with all the mechanics there, because the recession was so bad, and as a result of not having much money to pay for the wedding, I was so busy trying to do as much of it as possible myself and with some help from mom and dad, and their friends to ensure everything was working and flowing at the wedding mass and reception. I may not have stopped working long enough to chat with anyone who might have wanted to offer us some good advice. My goal that day was focused primarily on taking care of all my guest who gave up there Saturday to celebrate our marriage covenant day.
This past forty years, fraught with life’s ups and down, financial, employment, and many other things that put pressure on marriages has made our time together more than interesting. When we had children we discussed frequently this awesome responsibility that God now had given us. Our focus was raising and growing children that would be children of God, an asset to their community and world, as opposed to a liability. We worked opposite schedules for twenty years and tried to create a home that would be a foundation and a model for their future. There was joy and there was times of difficulty but by God’s grace I was blessed to have learned the true definition of love in my early 20’s, and not the world’s and this society’s definition. Love is not what you get or what you feel, it is what you give. This understanding and desire to be totally faithful to this covenant with my wife and God almighty is what was has been my anchor.
Awesome, thank you for sharing😃
You are doing a wonderful job, marriage is the foundation of our church, that’s why it’s being attacked so much. I remember when I was on a retreat with an Irish priest, he was telling us, marriage is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. I have always kept that advice. God bless your work.
Great article Barb, and LOVE the picture! Neither Brad nor I can recall anything specific from our wedding day, but like everyone else, have heard good and bad advice over time. We heartily agree “never go to bed angry” is very unrealistic, and have found that a night’s sleep is often the “timeout” we both need to calm down and gather rational thoughts. We have also learned over our journey that men and woman are truly hardwired very differently and it’s so important to keep that in mind as we develop our expectations of the other. Know yourself, know and be able to share your expectations with your spouse. Amen to Gem’s comment to love your partner in THEIR love language. And finally, St. Gianna said (not an exact quote) “Love and sacrifice are as closely linked as the sun and light. We cannot have love without sacrifice and cannot sacrifice without love.” Brad and Kathy, married 32.5 yrs
Most excellent thoughts and I love the quote 🙂
Thanks Mindy- if it were just a feeling- where would marriage and relationship be? Good stuff and so simple
Wonderful article Barb! We have been married 7 years. Some of the best advice we’ve been given: Love your partner in THEIR love language (even better communicate and learn about your love language). I know people throw this out like a joke but saying “happy wife happy life” is not the greatest advice, we are a team and we both deserve to be happy.
We received this advice on our wedding day. A priest friend of ours said “I hope something goes wrong at your wedding, because nothing is perfect, especially marriage”. The thing that went wrong, was his microphone wasn’t working for the blessing at the reception, but just before that, my husband had to yell at the DJ to remind him to introduce the priest! We have laughed about that many times. Seriously, a good piece of advice came after our daughter was born, so we had been married for under 2 years. I had taken her to Dan’s office so his co workers could meet her. One of his co-workers said to me, if you ever need to decide what to do first, ask yourself if it will matter 100 years from now. This advice has helped us so much in many ways. With regard to communicating, it has taught us patience when we have our issues pop up. The Love is Patient, Love is Kind from Corinthians is really true, but to have that extra emphasis puts a more visual on it, for me especially. Yes, we have gone to bed mad and hurt, but after a day, or sometimes two, things soften and the forgiveness happens. Talking in stages about the incident and allowing some time to get over it has been our way of communication with the negative stuff. Knowing our marriage is going to matter 100 years from now, even though we will be gone from this place, has helped us to settle things and move forward and forgive one another. The classic phrase, Time heals old wounds, was never said to us. It just came to mind writing this, because for us and our marriage, the time of one or two days, an excruciating long period of time has healed the wounds, with love and patience.
We are keeping all the couples in our prayers. The joy we have in our marriage is amazing, and we wish the same for the couples you are preparing now.
Thanks Anne- wonderful perspective. Will it matter 100 years from now? I also like “chose the hill you are willing to die on” that helps me also put things in perspective as to importance and priority.
Thank you for this Barb! It’s great to take time to reflect on marriage. I don’t remember getting any advice on the day of our wedding that impacted me.
During our marriage prep retreat, we discussed a number of different topics. Doug and I wrote down a list of all these topics we wanted to keep revisiting. So every 3 months we do a “marriage check in” where we go through the list and discuss how we stand on things like finances, parenting, volunteering, faith building, etc. We write down our thoughts and goals so we make sure we are getting better with time and it gives us an opportunity to always make sure we are touching base and on the same page. It’s been really helpful to make sure we are growing together and understanding each other!
Sarah and Doug, 5 years in August!
Great piece, mum! I’ll have to rack my own brain for some solid advice, but at the moment the one that comes to mind is “don’t keep score.”
Amen to that!!
Absolutely don’t keep score- excellent, thanks boy
Neither Glenn nor I remember any specific advice being given to us by our parents or relatives before we married. However, the priest who married us told us to attend Mass weekly, or more, pray and raise our children to do the same. We also remember dear Fr. Joe Hennessy’s sage advice to not “date/marry someone you can’t pray with!” Such true words spoken by these men of God who had seen the effects of not praying together on relationships. There were Sundays that tension was present between Glenn and I as we prepared for Mass, but by the time we got to the “Our Father” the tension was subsiding. Our turning outward to God at Mass by participating and listening to the Word of God, the priest’s homily and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, created a new perspective on whatever the issue had been and we returned home with new resolve to work together to make the situation better realizing that God was with us every step of the way. Glenn & Barb–almost 52 years
After I proposed to my wife, we waited a full year before we got married. Some of our friends said not to wait that long because we would break up before the year was up. But we decided it was best to find out in advance whether we were made for each other. During that year we discussed several things about life, love, and a relationship and we spoke to our Priest, Physician, and counselor for their advice. We made all our wedding plans together. Each of us realized that we had to work at our marriage, plans were made together and in some cases were broken together. When we disagreed, we gave each other time to think about our differences and ALWAYS, one of us would concede. It is one of my most memorable journeys and we are still living it after 55 years.
I guess I would recommend to those looking to get married to spend a lot of time together and discuss all facets of life, love and family before getting married, no surprises. IT IS A LIFELONG COMMITMENT AND THEY MUST REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS WITH OUR OWN PECULILARITIES WHICH NEED TO BE RESPECTED.
Stephen & Judy
Good article Mudder!
The best advice I ever got was that marriage is not 50-50 it’s 100-100. No matter how tired we may be after a long day or how crazy work is, we always try to help each other around the house, spend as much time as possible with our four year old, help each other out with whatever we are working on or make the extra effort to say/do something nice for each other. When this happens we are very rarely not satisfied with the state of things or what we could be doing better.
It will be five years for us next month and it feels like we are still in our honeymoon stage! I feel very blessed to be married to Trisha and knowing that we give it our all as much as we can each day.
Gisele and Ray, married 37 years!
Advise I received from my parents was never go to bed angry at each other.
If you are too upset just say goodnight and let the night take care of it. Say prayers to feel better. God has his way of helping us fix things.
When you wake up less tired, you can talk it out at a less emotional moment. It’s easyer to forgive and get a more rational perspective of what really happen.
I often find that if you ask God to guide you, think more rationally and take time to analyse.
Things are often blown out of proportion or perseve in the wrong way. I personaly don’t like confrontation but force myself to have a healthy discussion and find a compromise or solution.
My big thing is compromise but stay true to yourself.
Love is everything
Love it. Yes Matt and I have gone to bed upset. Sometimes not even in the same room! Couple things…. Forgiveness and and Love can’t exist without each other and marriage is a garden to tend and care for. Keep the weeds of bad Influence out, feed it with time and attention and your relationship with your beloved will feed you, your children and everyone around you! Matt and Laura- married 27 years
Nice article Barb. I would have to say the best advice I heard was from Monsignor Peter. He said we all “love” Pizza and we throw it out when it doesn’t taste good anymore. When it comes to marriage and when we use the word “Love” it has a completely different meaning then our “love” for pizza.
Also, my advice would be entering a sacramental marriage is for life. Its a vocation till death do you part. Serving your family is like prayer and its a sacrifice. That sacrifice part brings us closer to God. So, when your not in the mood to always give so much and not get much back in return. Think of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Great article Barb!
To answer your question one great piece of advice I received when we got married is that the first two years of marriage are usually hard for everyone and so when you encounter those initial hiccups see it through that lens. That perspective helped keep the drama low.
Unhelpful advice – keep to myself and not tell my spouse any negative feelings or experiences with my in laws.
Thanks Aarthi- very helpful advice. And keeping it to yourself only builds resentment I have found 🙂
+JMJ Thanks, Barb for the nice post. Appreciate it. Great wedding picture! 🙂 Your working with the engaged couples is so crucial in their building a solid faith foundation. It’s a very important ministry that cannot be taken for granted. In the name of everyone, our heartfelt thanks to you and Deacon Mark for all the good that you’ve done and continue to do to help the couples remain “on track” with the Lord.
Very sorry for the delayed response. For some reason, every time i start to reply, i get called to do something else. Better late than never! On my part, i don’t recall any advice during our wedding day. What i remember is that when Chito and i were engaged, we were both inspired to ask the Holy Spirit to be our Wedding Coordinator and He, in turn, changed our priest, the church etc… and gave us the Scripture verse to confirm which date we’re supposed to get married.
Prayerfully considering July 23rd Feast Day of St. Bridget of Sweden so just waiting for “confirmation from the Lord.”
While watching the movie Joseph with the multi-colored coat one night, i just randomly opened the Bible during the break. It opened to 2 Chronicles 7:10 “Then on the twenty-third day of the seventh month, He sent them to their tents rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness the Lord has shown to David, to Solomon and to His people Israel.” Both very thankful to know the Lord’s Will on this matter…We knew we had to include the Scripture verse in our wedding invitation to glorify the Holy Spirit!
Looking back, there was an elderly white-haired priest who came into the sacristy one day after the weekday Mass that we were coordinating at our former parish. The mysterious priest just started to teach us how to pray for each other as a married couple. He explained that since the man is the head of the family and the woman is the heart. He proceeded to put Chito’s hand gently on my head and quietly got my right hand to put on the heart of Chito and we did pray. Thank You Lord for this lesson!
So not just praying with each other’s spouse but we were also shown the importance of “praying over” each other’s spouse as the need arises.
Another advice we got from someone at the prayer meeting we used to attend when we were newly married was this: Let JESUS be the “glue” in your marriage!
And yes, we hold on to what we have learned that we need to help each other get to heaven. And to always humble ourselves and apologize and make amends as needed. Love is not a feeling but a “total commitment to the Lord and to Our Lady and to each other”…AMDG 27 yrs going on 28 God willing by July…