Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 23, 2008
A Catholic Marriage puts God at the centre
Marriage Encounter helps couples to live out a faith-filled relationship
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"They were so busy being parents that they failed to be a couple."
"There are so many things in our world today that will tear marriages apart," Dechant lamented.
"Statistics show that sacramental marriages are no longer immune to the enticements of the world. In the past you would see people who got divorced were people who didn't have a strong faith life - who got married, say, outside of the Church.
"Now one in two Catholic marriages are divorcing. And so you say 'Why?' There are many reasons, but the faith life is not a source of daily nourishment in their relationship. If they just rely on their own resources, they are going to struggle."
In many cases both parents work and thus have little time for themselves as a couple and for family life.
"It makes no sense for a couple to divorce after 25 or 30 years of marriage. So why do they do it? Because for all those years they were so busy being parents that they failed to be a couple," Dechant said.
Fr. Mike Dechant
"Then, when the role of parenting is over, they look across the breakfast table and they say, 'Who are you? Do I know you?' They know each other as parents but they don't necessarily know each other as husband and wife."
Dechant lamented that newly-married couples are encouraged to have separate bank accounts.
"Why? Because of the possibility that this may not work out," he said.
"But the encouragement of the Church, the encouragement of Worldwide Marriage Encounter is to defy the statistics - don't be a statistic. You can choose not to be a statistic."
Another source of marriage breakdown is the single mentality. "People get married and they continue to live a single mentality. Yes, they have a spouse, they have a home, they share a bed but they still do all the things that they did before - go out with the guys, go out with the girls, thinking in a single-mindedness," Dechant explained.
A marriage is meant to last forever. A Marriage Encounter weekend can help make that happen.
"When a friend invites his buddy to go out he may say, 'Let me check with my wife first' but often the response is, 'Well, you put a ring on your finger and one in your nose.' That's a single-minded comment," the Oblate said.
"This man is going to check with his wife not because he is the little boy in the relationship but because he is responsible to her. Society would just say go ahead, make up your own mind and let the chips fall where they may."
Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Dechant said, is designed to enhance, to encourage, to teach and to model the sacramental way of life. Three married couples and a priest share the Marriage Encounter weekend experience, which is designed primarily for good couples. "It's to help good couples to become strong, active sacramental couples."
Dechant noted many couples as they grow in marriage start to develop a disease called "take-one-another-for-granted." Then their relationship slips back into that single mentality or an attitude of indifference. That's when a Marriage Encounter weekend would help.
"I've been on weekends where couples have been married for anywhere from 25 to 50 years and have fallen in love all over again. They said the gift of this weekend is that it's brought us back to the romance and the excitement we had when we were first married.
"They are much more affectionate to each other, much more sensitive to each other; there is a greater awareness and they come alive."
Dechant shared a couple of tips to keep marriages happy.
"Take it seriously (because) this is serious business," he recommended. "And when we say 'serious,' it doesn't mean that it is onerous or oppressive or without joy. On the contrary, it might be the very thing that is going to give you life so take it seriously."
As well, like any other business, marriage needs constant input. "Business people are constantly going to workshops, to seminars and to things like that. Marriage needs the same type of input, the same type of nourishment whether that's retreats or talks," Dechant said.
The Oblate also speaks of awareness - "awareness of what you are living," he said.
"As a Christian I put on the Lord Jesus Christ and I live that in a relationship in a way that's a daily awareness. It doesn't need all this piety stuff; it's just good, wholesome living.
"People, the general public out there, will recognize it. How? By the way he speaks of his wife. When others are putting down their wives and telling dirty jokes, he'll either challenge it or walk away. The language that we use reflects our hearts."
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