Preparing for "till death do us part!"

When Ron and I were planning our wed­ding, part of it included attending mar­riage classes we had to take at Mother of God church and two weeks of Natural Family Planning classes that then Fr. Frank required of couples getting married at St. Thomas Church. After writing this month’s story on the revised mar­riage preparation classes, I wish we had the oppor­tunity to participate in the marriage program today – the one ECRC and the Chaldean Diocese have created. I envy the newly engaged couples. They are most likely going into their marriage more en­lightened than we were nearly 15 years ago.

After interviewing Jeff Kassab and Dalia Atisha along with talking to Patrice Abona and Kristin Ayar, I can at­test from my personal experiences that the information they are sharing is right on target. They are not solving problems but sharing valuable strategies and tools.

Couples can share with you their personal stories of what to expect and they can be very helpful. But, in real­ity, you have to expect the unexpected.

Ron and I had our plans of where we were going to live, how many kids we wanted and what our life would look like. God had other plans. That is not to say that I am not happy. I am more than happy. I am truly grateful for the blessings. Life happens when you are making plans. You have to be ready for it.

Marriage in a simplistic way can be summed up in a movie scene from the movie Parenthood starring Steve Martin. In fact, when I was writing this article, I thought of that scene. His wife played by Mary Steenburgen, was sewing a Halloween costume while the two argued. Steve Martin’s character’s grandmother interrupted and talked about how she loved the rollercoaster ride much more than the Merry Go Round. Steve Martin’s character brushed it off to an old lady rambling but his wife in the movie got it. “I happen to like the story,” she said.

The story was about marriage. It is a rollercoaster ride. There will be ups and downs – trials and tribulations. There will be romantic bliss and backroom brawls. Marriage is life.

I don’t want to discount the fun and excitement of plan­ning the wedding. I loved that part. We wanted to share with you some trends for 2019 in this annual Wedding Guide. We have some other fun wedding stories as well. We also wanted you to be prepared for the life after the “Big Day”. The wed­ding day can be a blast but it’s not the marriage.

After you come home from the honey moon, after the dress is dry cleaned and vacuumed packed, after you order photos and watch your wedding video and after the “thank you” cards are mailed out – life as husband and wife begins.

In my nearly 15 years of marriage, I have learned many things but most importantly it’s that God must be present in the marriage. Hav­ing a Christ-centered marriage is the focal point of the marriage preparation course. I said, “I do” forever and I meant it standing face-to-face with Ron at St. Thomas. I mean it even more today.

You don’t marry just the man. You do marry the family. Don’t be deluded; in-law issues and money is­sues will come up I promise. They do. If you, as a couple, are grounded in the faith and are building your life on a “ROCK” then no problems will ever break you.

As a communications strategist and evangelist, I can also tell you, how you communicate with your spouse is key. If you focus on Christ-centered communication, even your most heated discussions can be fruitful.

I have not always practiced what I preach. Ron can at­test to that for sure. In fact, he is the calm one – the more centered one. I brought into our marriage my temper.

We also bring into the relationship our past experi­ences – our past hurts and our upbringing.

All these subjects are good conversation topics for en­gaged couples. When Ron and I got engaged, I bought a book that included a list of questions couples should ask each other. It prompted some lively discussions and enabled us to learn a great deal about each other. I was happy to hear those kinds of questions are included in the marriage preparation course.

So, have fun preparing for the beautiful day but take the needed time preparing for what you want to be de­cades of marriage. I vowed “till death do us part” and I meant it. I hope you do too!