Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 19, 2004
First steps on prepared ground
Preparation course skillfully cultivates a relationship's soil so a couple can grow and flourish.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Nancy Leake's older sister Heather died shortly after she and Jeff were married.
"For something like that to happen in your first year of marriage, . . . well, it drew us closer together," said Nancy, 26. "We relied on each other for strength: Jeff was a huge support system."
The couple drew on everything they learned about each other in their marriage preparation course at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sherwood Park following their wedding Aug.3, 2002.
Nancy and Jeff, 29, also delved into their faith to help them. The comfort their preparation course through OLPH was able to provide for such a moment came in the form of the depth of their love for each other. And for God.
"In class, we didn't learn how to cope with death, but they did mention there will be huge events that will change - or affect - a marriage in a big way," Nancy said.
Love is vital
"It shows you that love is the most important thing in life. Our relationship with God and our Church has been strengthened over this," she said. "Our family has found a lot of comfort looking for signs from God. We now take everyday things that others might not look twice at, and find meaning - symbolism. We say 'This is Heather speaking to us' or 'This is God trying to comfort us.'"
The symbolism of this past Advent was particularly enlightening for the couple and their extended family as Jeff has entered the RCIA and has a better understanding of the symbolism and what it means to enjoy life within the Church.
"I'm from Winnipeg and I was baptized Anglican," Jeff said. "At first, it was difficult to see God in our relationship. Since I've begun to convert to Catholicism, the Church invited me in and I felt warm and welcomed."
Nancy has belonged to OLPH parish since she was born. The parish requires couples to attend its nine-week preparation course before they are married.
It was a large time commitment since Nancy was getting her master's degree in environmental economics while Jeff was supporting them through his steel manufacturing job at C.W. Carry.
The couple applauds their investment in the marriage preparation course.
"It was well worth it. After every class, we took home something special," Jeff said. "There was money management, communicating, parenting, sex - they covered everything."
The couple knew each other for seven months before they were engaged. As they were going through the marriage preparation course at the 13-month mark, they were still in the honeymoon stage.
"We were very enamoured with each other," Nancy said. "Before, during and after the course, we found we are very compatible. That part didn't change but how we were looking at each other during the course might be different."
During the class each person was given a booklet to answer a series of questions separate from each other. Then they would reunite and discuss their answers in a group with a facilitator couple guiding them. "We discussed things during the class and then afterwards," Nancy said. "We discovered we were pretty much on the same page."
"I think the biggest thing we took from the course was the section on the five love languages," Jeff said. "One facilitator couple gave us a five-minute quiz where the answers say what kind of person you are. It helped your partner see that and to understand."
The categories were words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, active service and physical touch. For example, with words of affirmation, a person might respond well to being given a compliment or talked to sincerely.
"Everyone takes the test separately and we discovered we are both quality time people," he said. "So Nancy and I are speaking the same language."
Careers with steady incomes, then their own home, then raising a family are the priorities of the Leakes at the moment. The Edmonton Police Service recently hired Nancy as a criminal statistics coordinator. The couple also moved in with her parents in an effort to save money for a home they hope to begin building come springtime.
As such, they have further realized how important their time together is.
"I've learned that since we moved in here with my parents last July, marriage is work," Nancy said. "When it was just the two of us, marriage seemed easy because there were no distractions from our quality time. Dinner was for two. It's not necessarily hard work, it's just more conscious decision making."