Some 65 married couples, some of whom are involved in marriage preparation programmes, were at Emmaus Centre, Arima, on Saturday, October 12 to hear US marriage counsellor and author Dr Jim Healy. He shared on marriage preparation and on how to maintain a connection in marriage.
Dr Healy, a counselling psychologist with over 25 years of full-time experience working with families, currently runs the Office of Family Ministry for the diocese of Joliet, Illinois. He is a former adviser to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and the Family.
The first session, titled How to be Married and Stay Engaged, focused on the different types of intimacy involved in marriage. Participants heard that all through marriage there were times of Transfiguration (romance and feelings of well-being), Crucifixion (challenging times or circumstances that challenged commitment), and Resurrection (arising refreshed and strengthened from the challenging periods).
Participants were encouraged to examine the challenging periods in their marriages and to consider what must be done to ensure that they remained connected as a couple. Dr Healy discussed what actions could be taken to ensure God and the marriage were given priority, even as the couple dealt with other pressing responsibilities involving children, jobs, finances, hobbies, and in-laws.
Different types of intimacy were promulgated, such as back-to-back intimacy (determination and ensuring permanence), face-to -face (communicating and growing through challenges and good times), and shoulder-to-shoulder (helping family/each other reach fulfillment).
Marriage Preparation in the Modern Era was the post-lunch session. Among the suggestions was that the couple should be encouraged to begin their journey by participating in the parish community. If possible, other married couples could be asked to journey with them before and after the wedding, since the community was responsible for its marriages, and every good marriage strengthened the Church and society.
Issues that commonly arose in marriage preparation were also discussed: co-habitation (living together); Natural Family Planning; mixed-faith marriages; in-laws; couples coming from divorced families; and the fact that many couples might not be regular Church-goers at the time of marriage preparation.
All agreed that it was a most useful and invigorating four hours – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The seminar was jointly coordinated by persons involved in Evenings for the Engaged and the Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) ministries. Dr Healy’s visit was facilitated by the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission.
– with reporting by Anthony and Angela Mitchell, CEE national coordinators