By the time most of you read this, I will be wedded to the lovely Maureen. Planning our wedding was much more of an ordeal than I had ever imagined. In the months leading up to our wedding, friends would ask me every day, “How are the plans coming along?” To which I would reply, “We just hope it comes together by December 7.”
Like most couples today, we decided to handle all the wedding and reception details ourselves. Given that both of us have demanding full-time jobs, there were times I considered our decision foolhardy, but something unexpected and welcome came out of our struggle—we began to grow together.
We thought that we already had a strong relationship, or we wouldn’t have decided to get married. We are two committed Christians, with a deeply held Catholic faith, and most certainly in love. But like all friendships, the strains of real life reveal what it’s made of. The crucible of wedding preparation is a microcosm of the future, an orientation for the rest of our lives together.
Maureen took care of the flowers. I planned the honeymoon. She designed the invitations. I researched limousines. For all of these items there was give and take, advice sought, and decisions made. Sometimes, there were disagreements, episodes of frayed patience, followed by apologies. It is hardly a perfect process, but, I am told by wiser men, it is not supposed to be.
Pre-Cana classes were part of the learning process. By discussing everything from finances through sexuality and children, these classes helped us to see the present time as preparation for the marital challenges to come. These classes, which so many couples unfortunately distrust, gave us a deeper understanding of what God intends marriage to be—a gift from heaven, a manifestation of the highest form of love that exists, one that mirrors the love between Christ and his Church.
Maureen and I developed an even deeper appreciation of marriage as an institution in preparing for it ourselves. Recently the need has arisen to legislate the definition of marriage as the loving union of one woman and one man. Maureen, who works on Capitol Hill, had the opportunity to follow the action when the Defense of Marriage Act was being debated.
When I asked for her impression of the legislation, she said that it saddened her. I knew exactly what she meant. Isn’t it a shame that God’s gift of love between a man and a woman in the sacrament of marriage is one that must be defended from degradation by legislation? Marriage cannot be redefined to fit the most recently acceptable societal norms. Yet, as an institution established by God for the good of our society and its people, marriage is too important to leave undefended.
Maureen and I are fortunate to come from parents whose marriages are as strong today, if not stronger, than the day those marriages began. Both have been filled with heartache and happiness. Both are founded on faith in God and dedicated to a selfless commitment to children. We can only pray that our married life will emulate that of our parents. We know it requires the willingness to grow closer to one another and the Lord. Struggling together through these wedding preparations has given us a good head start.