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For Your Marriage

Brooke and Tim are high school sweethearts who grew up in Southeastern Virginia. They were married in June 2017 and blog about marriage preparation and the joys - and challenges - of newlywed life.

Marriage Preparation: Sharing Hearts and Homes

Since the moment Brooke and I got engaged, our relationship has grown more than we could have ever expected. Much of that growth has been a result of constant communication about things we’ve never had to worry about before, such as discussing our finances, wedding planning, or finding a place to live that works for both of our commutes. However, by far the most rewarding area of growth has stemmed from our spiritual life. Our spiritual life has grown exponentially over the past year. One of the major contributors to this has been our regular trips to the home of our mentoring couple for marriage preparation.

When deciding how we wanted to go about our marriage preparation, we opted to meet with a mentoring couple once or twice a month for several months leading up to our wedding. We personally prefer this method over a weekend retreat or a couple of sessions because it allows us to have more constant guidance and challenged us to more continual growth throughout our engagement. This way, no matter what distractions may come up, we can sit down every few weeks and discuss our understanding of the sacrament and how we could better prepare for it.

Admittedly, marriage prep can be a rather intimidating concept. Discussing intimate moments of your life and relationship with others seems overwhelming. But once we overcame the initial anxiety, and we actually sat down and opened ourselves up to these conversations, it became clear that God wanted to use this time to work in our hearts. Our mentoring couple is very experienced in marriage preparation and understood that we would be nervous during our first meeting, so the majority of our first meeting revolved around them getting to know us. The time they took to get to know us and our story laid the groundwork for a much more personal experience and allowed for the discussions to be guided and influenced by our unique relationship.

The topics of discussion range from where we are in our prayer life to which one of us is going to do the most cooking. They have struck an excellent balance of faith direction and lifestyle guidance, and in doing so, showed us that those two areas are not mutually exclusive. While we are called to lead one another to Christ through explicit prayer, we are also called to support one another throughout the stresses and hardships of everyday life, even when those moments don’t seem so prayerful. They have helped us see that living out the sacrament will come in both big and small moments of our future married life.

Another important discussion we had was the importance of being open to life. As Brooke mentioned in our last post, the moment we become husband and wife we start our family and are called to be open to growing our family. In being open to life, we are open to the thought of sharing the burdens and the rewards that accompany having children – whether it’s waking up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or being there for our child’s First Communion. The discussions in marriage prep focus on the fact that there is a very real possibility we will encounter these situations in our everyday life and should be aware of and prepared for them when entering into our vows.

Moreover, our experience in marriage prep has also taught us that being open to life means being open not only to children but also to the various other people and families God puts in our life. Our mentor couple has truly revealed to us what a hospitable home looks like and taught us firsthand how to welcome others into our marriage. Every time we visit them, the first thing they do is take our coats and ask us if we want a cup of tea. While these may seem like very small acts, they go a long way in making us feel welcome in their home. While Brooke and I have certainly learned a lot through our conversations with our mentor couple, we’ve learned equally as much just from observing their marriage.

Lastly, our discussions and time at marriage preparation are meant to only be the start of a conversation between Brooke and me. When we leave marriage prep, we always discuss what we went over in the meeting and how we can implement their guidance into our lives. By continuing these discussions ourselves, we are allowing these sessions to play a greater role in our preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage.