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Witness to Love: Promoting a Culture of Healthy Marriages One Couple at a Time

When Stephen and I got married, we were just inside the 6 month window our diocese requires for an engagement. Although we were anxious to get married soon(!), there are good reasons these times of waiting are in place.

Marriage is not for a day; it is for a lifetime. The wedding ceremony takes place over the course a day {or two or three, if you like long celebrations}, but the marriage will last many years {God-willing}. Wedding preparations are important, yes, but what is vitally important is marriage preparation.

Stephen and I had great difficulty finding a weekend between our engagement and wedding day to participate in our diocesan requirement of an engaged encounter retreat. Fortunately, our priest knew about an alternative: an online program called Catholic Marriage Prep run through the Diocese of Denver. The program teams engaged couples up with a mentor couple who go through an intensive, marriage preparation program together through email correspondence.

We had a great experience with our mentor couple {and would highly recommend the program!}, but one thing that would have enhanced the experience was the ability to establish a more lasting relationship with the couple. We certainly grew together as a couple but it was a rather detached experience with the mentoring couple for the long haul.

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A couple who have been very involved with diocesan and parish marriage preparation recently started a new ministry called Witness to Love that seeks to incorporate this longer-lasting connection between the mentoring couple and engaged couple. Ryan and Mary-Rose Verret encourage couple-to-couple marriage prep with couples that are chosen by the engaged couples. The idea being that a relationship of trust is a better way of influencing and has the potential to open up deeper communication between the couples. This starts during the period of engagement and will, hopefully, extend throughout marriage as they continue to look to the mentor couple for encouragement and help during trying times.

Their recently-published handbook, Witness to Love, goes into depth about being that witness–indirectly, through the daily living out of our vows and, directly, by engaging in shared activities and questions for discussion with particular couples.

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We are also reminded that this model of couple-to-couple mentoring helps the mentor couple also grows in their relationship. It has the beautiful effect of being beneficial for both couples. Because we can’t give what we don’t have, the mentor couple’s own marriage must be a work-in-progress in order to be an effective witness. The couples mutually enrich each other.

Even if a couple is unsure about mentoring others, this book is an excellent read as it contains a superb collection of questions for discussion between couples. It is sure to improve communication between spouses who whole-heartedly engage in the discussion suggested. {And it just might give you the confidence you need to say, ‘yes!’.}

 

Pope Francis has been calling all of us, as witnesses to the Gospel, to a “culture of encounter”. He emphasizes that dialogue is essential to being effective witnesses. This book does an excellent job of showing how to do that in the areas of marriage and family life. Our over-saturated, technology-based culture is separating those personal encounters so essential to healthy relationships, between spouses, between friends. The book gives practical, helpful advice on how to renew bonds and heal the rifts.

The authors are encouraging us laity to spread the news of this model of marriage preparation to each of our dioceses/parishes and offering our support as mentors to other couples. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book and prayerfully considering whether God is calling you and your spouse to do just that.

3 Thoughts on “Witness to Love: Promoting a Culture of Healthy Marriages One Couple at a Time

  1. What a beautiful program!!! Definitely something my hubby and I will pray about! There is such a great need for mentoring programs like this.

  2. Pingback: Gathering My Thoughts ~ Brought to You By the Letter ‘T’ | 'Muff'in Dome

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