Family matters

Column: Don’t wait until you have car trouble

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

A group of engaged couples undergoing marriage preparation were asked:

“When do you think most married couples begin looking for some form of marriage enrichment?” they answered: “When they are having trouble in their marriage.”

The answer made sense to them. It comes from our culture. As we grow from childhood to adulthood, our culture is a significant part of the formation we receive about marriage.

If we reflect on this attitude, we realize it really does not make good sense.

It would be like driving our car without proper preventive maintenance until a breakdown leaves us with expensive repairs or worse. It is also like constantly abusing our bodies with poor diet, little or no exercise or proper rest. This second example is much more serious because now we are talking about our lives. Well, our marriages are our lives!

Now, I am not suggesting that I have had it all together in my life. My wife and I also fell into this mindset. We were invited early in our marriage to make a Worldwide Marriage encounter weekend. We said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” We thought we were doing just fine.

During our ninth year of marriage, it suddenly occurred to me one day that we were not as close as we once were. In fact, it seemed like the daily grind of work and raising children had sapped all the fun out of our lives.

Now, we weren’t in trouble; but we weren’t honeymooners either. We were just hanging in there. The invitation of a priest and a couple one Sunday persuaded us to experience the Marriage encounter weekend.

At the end of the weekend, the joy we rediscovered in each other was the greatest gift of our lives. The experience also gave us the tools to continue to grow closer in love each day. This helped us through the rough times of financial struggles and raising six children.

In fact, our renewed love also opened our hearts to seeking God’s desire as to whether we should have more children. This brought the gift of three more children into our family. Our joy and family would not be the same without them or that weekend experience.

So now I invite you to reject our culture’s attitude of waiting until you are no longer living in love, and the grind of daily life overwhelms you. Make a Worldwide Marriage encounter weekend. Or, sign up for the “Living
in Love” retreat, which over 500 couples experienced during the year of Faith. Be witnesses to your children, your neighbors and the world that marriage is a joyful, exciting and grace-filled vocation. Check our website for information about these enrichments and the celebration of World Marriage day on Feb. 9.

About the author

Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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