A Love Story

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Family Life, Marriage, Marriage Prep, Society

When an engaged couple comes to us for marriage prep classes, one of the first things we do is ask them to do is to tell us their love story:
   How did you meet?
   What attracted you to one another?

We also ask them what motivates them:
   What is most important to you?
   Why do you want a Catholic wedding?

These questions might seem easy at first glance, but I think all Catholic couples could benefit from answering them. Let’s examine each one.

How did you meet?

Obviously, you should already know that, but having a story about how you met is something your future children and grandchildren will want to know. It’s not simply “how you met,” but what was different about meeting your future spouse? Did you realize when you first met them, they were “the one”?

Our kids love to hear us repeat the story of how we met. They know it by heart, but they still enjoy hearing me tell how the first time I saw Joe, I thought he was somewhat odd, wearing jeans with big holes in them (before that was a “thing”), playing a harmonica randomly in the back of a bus, and how I was wearing my Navy officer uniform, with skirt and heels; how he chased me down, calling me by name when I got off the bus! Our meeting happened at a bus stop in Naples, Italy, where we were both stationed as naval officers many years ago. The kids always laugh at the story because they know how it turned out. It’s a life lesson of sorts: always pay attention to your surroundings, because you never know who might burst in!

What attracted you to one another?

Guys may be more attracted to looks and gals may be more attracted to strength, but beyond those initial attractions, what drew you in? There are plenty of attractive, strong, intelligent people in the world, but all these things can fade over time, so what is it about this person that makes you want to spend a lifetime with them?

Joe says that I won him over when he heard me talk about my passion to serve our country. I knew Joe was the one for me when he told me about his love for God and I saw his faithfulness and self-sacrifice in the way he lived his life. Calling to mind what initially attracted us to one another, and what qualities we value in one another can help us when times are rough and maybe we’re starting to get a little irritated with our spouse’s not so great qualities.

What is most important to you in life?

We each have only one life to live, so how are you going to live yours? Things that we were passionate about when we were single, will probably change some when we marry. How important is your marriage and family compared to your other goals in life? How does your faith in God factor into the scheme of things? How much are you willing to suffer for your family and/or your faith? How important is it to acquire wealth and status? When you are on your death bed, what do you think will give you the most joy, looking back at your life? Do you and your future spouse agree on what’s most important in life? If one thinks career is most important and another thinks family is most important, how can you find balance in your new life together as “one flesh”?

When I was in high school, I wanted to have a career, maybe a husband, possibly kids. When I got married, my husband took priority over my career, and I was willing to follow him wherever his career took him. When I became a mom, my children became a priority over my career, and I struggled to find a comfortable balance between being in the Navy and being a mom. All of these things, however, took a backseat to my faith in God and my ultimate goal of getting to heaven (and helping my family get to heaven!)

None of us can escape some type of suffering in this life. If you were to lose something or someone important to you, how would you respond? To whom or what do you turn to when you are suffering?

When we judge the things of this life with the joys of heaven, we get clarity of vision. If heaven is our destination, everything else is either to help us get there, or it is a distraction.

Why do you want a Catholic wedding?

The Catholic Church requires a great deal from its members. For married couples, the Church requires three things: you marry for life, you are faithful to your spouse, and you don’t contracept. These three things are non-negotiable. We ask you to think about why you want a Catholic wedding, because when you say “I do” in a Catholic wedding ceremony, you’re promising to do these three things. Getting married in a Catholic church shouldn’t be simply because you want to get married in a beautiful space or to appease a family member. When we marry in the Catholic Church, we agree to live a life of heroic virtue and self-sacrificial love.

As St. Paul says in Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…” (Eph 5:25) St. Paul called the union of husband and wife a “mystery” (Eph 5:32) because it reflects the love of Christ, for his bride, the Church. This mystery of God’s love for his people as a covenantal marital union flows throughout the Bible; from Genesis, with the marriage of Adam and Eve, to the Gospels, with Jesus performing his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, to Revelation, culminating in the marriage feast of the Lamb.

The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath, which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant. CCC 1617.

Whether you are preparing for marriage, you are recently married, or you’ve been married for decades, talking about these questions together can deepen your love for one another and for God. God is the giver of life and he gave your spouse to you. He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you in heaven. He wants you to help one another, and your children get to heaven. Remember, you are an essential part of God’s love story for humanity. He wants you to learn to love well in this world so that you can be happy with him forever in the next. May you come to know how much God loves you and wants to be a vital part of your love story.

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Debbie Nowak

Debbie Nowak is a convert to the Catholic faith, for which she gives thanks and praise to God daily. She met her husband, Joe, when they were both naval officers in Italy . They have been married for over three decades. They have ten children and multiple grandchildren. Her life goals include helping others know the supreme happiness of having a Christ-centered marriage and the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church. She and her husband live in Colorado.

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