by Sheila Myers
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Want the kind of marriage that is going to make the angels smile and your neighbors jealous?
Such a marriage is possible when both spouses commit to work for the good of each other, said marriage and family counseling expert Dr. Gregory Popcak.
Popcak and his wife Lisa offered tips for a successful marriage rooted in Catholic principles to about 80 couples during Marriage Enrichment Day on Nov. 3 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan. The archdiocesan marriage and family life office sponsored the event.
“Marriage is a sacrament,” said Gregory Popcak. “That means it has the power to help us become everything God created us to be in this life, and help each other get to heaven in the next.”
The Popcaks explained the idea of self-donation using the acronym GIFT.
• Growing in Christian identity
Couples need a mission statement, or “marital imperative,” that defines the Christian virtues they want to represent.
“We all have tag lines,” said Lisa Popcak. “What do you want yours to be?”
Joy, service and hospitality — all these are virtues we admire. Couples should spend time thinking about their strongest gifts and how they can live them, then help keep each other on track.
• Inviting unity
God created men and women to live in perfect union. But original sin drove a wedge between the sexes.
“There is a whole industry based on propping up the idea that men and women can never understand each other,” said Lisa Popcak.
To experience the partnership God intended for couples, it’s important to distinguish between real differences and false differences, she said. Don’t hide out behind the idea that men or women don’t do certain things. Instead, be willing to serve your spouse and your family as best you can.
“When you do that, you start to grow as a couple,” said Gregory Popcak.
• Fostering love
To help spouses understand each other better, they need to understand each other’s love styles: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Love styles represent how we best perceive love.
For example, a spouse with a visual style responds to flowers, cards or a clean house as signs of love.
Understanding and responding to each other’s love styles helps foster friendship and romantic love in the relationship. Learning to communicate in a love style different than your own can expand your senses.
“[God] begins to speak to us in ways we weren’t wired to experience before,” said Lisa Popcak.
• Treasuring marital intimacy
The Popcaks devoted the afternoon session to a discussion of marital intimacy and the difference between holy sex and eroticism.
At the end of the day, the Popcaks reminded couples that their marriages have the power to change the world.
“Having a great marriage isn’t about taking better care of each other. It’s about being a witness to the world that the love we all ache for in our hearts, the free and total and fruitful love that God wants to give us, really exists,” said Gregory Popcak.
See the presentation
View or download an edited version of the entire Marriage Enrichment Day presentation at: resources.archkck.org, the archdiocese’s new digital media center.
Details about the principles and concepts discussed in the presentation can be obtained through the Pastoral Solutions Institute website at: www.exceptionalmarriages.com.