In working with couples for half a century, I ask them to do 3 things before they get engaged.
I invite them to take three blank pieces of paper. On the first sheet I ask them to write down those THINGS that are IMPORTANT to them. It could be their work or their vocation or hobby. It could be their leisure time: the sports they play or watch, or their favorite TV shows. What is important to them might be family or friends: going out with them or talking to them often on the phone. Or it might be intangibles or qualities: security by having money in the bank, a practiced faith life by going to church weekly as a family, or a half-hour of peace and quiet at home after a hard days’ work. A God Moment.
On the second sheet of paper I invite them to write down their MUTUAL HISTORY of how these important matters were lived out by the two of them since they have been going out together. While he played golf or went out with his buddies, what did she do and how did she feel about this? When she went shopping or out with her sisters, what did he do and how did he feel about this. If one of them went to church on Sunday or was involved in a charitable program, what did the other person do and what did they feel? If one came home looking for peace and quiet and the other couldn’t wait to share the events of their day, how was this handled? How did each person feel? A God Touch.
On the third sheet of paper I invite the couple to write down their EXPECTATIONS once they are living together and have made a commitment to each other. Early in a relationship, both parties are “on their best behavior”. They will go along and do or put up with almost anything. They figure that over time things will get worked out, fall into an acceptable pattern, or a behavioral change will happen with the other person. A God Alert.
But what we value as individuals and our habits of behavior are hard to change. As I was preparing one couple for marriage, I learned that every Sunday he left his military base, drove thirty miles to pick her up and take her to church and breakfast afterwards. He was not baptized or brought up in any faith. Yet he picked her up and went to church and breakfast with her for years. Nine months after they were married she came to me all upset that now they were living together and he would not travel a mile to go to church with her. “You don’t know a person until you marry him,” she blurted out to me. A God Flash.
I asked her to go home and look over and discuss the three sheets they had filled out. On hers she said that going to church as a family was important to her. Their history for years was that he picked her up every Sunday and after church they went out to brunch. Her expectation was that their going to church together would continue.
He wrote on the first sheet that spending quality time time together with her was important to him. Church and brunch in their history were part of this quality time together. His expectation was that they would have a lot more quality time together after they were married, and they did. Unfortunately, they did not discuss her expectations on this before the wedding. She just assumed that after all those years he would continue to go to church with her.
In this case there is a happy ending. Twenty-five years later I asked her sister how the couple I married was doing. She said that in time he started to go to church with her again, he was baptized and was now active in the parish. I only wish that I had more happy endings like that to relate. A God Provide.
Inside every person you know, is a person you don’t know.
Before you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone,
Get to know what is really inside that person.
t might take 3 sheets of paper and a lot of sharing!!