It takes at least four years to obtain a college degree; it takes consistency, time, and great effort to learn Spanish; it takes at least 3 to 4 months to prepare for labor. To get prepared for marriage, does it only take a weekend?
As you can see, we are not giving marriage the importance that it needs. Labor before a birth may take a few hours, but marriage lasts the rest of your life. If you are called to the marriage vocation, this should be your priority, your greatest investment, the most important thing for you. Don’t you think we need to be well prepared to make this kind of commitment? Improvising a marriage will lead to failure.
So, when should this preparation start?
The following words are from Pope Pius XI:
"Those who have the intention to get married, must be aware of such a future. It's necessary, from the beginning of one’s childhood, to correct or amend those disorderly tendencies and replace them with the right ones. We can't deny that both, the firm foundation of a happy marriage or the destruction of a disgraceful marriage, is made, for both girls and boys, during childhood and youth. In such a way, it must be considered, that those who before marriage only looked after themselves and their own things, would be the same during their married lives. In other words, they will gather the fruit of the seed that was planted.”
The vocation of every man is to GIVE HIMSELF completely. This is God’s plan. Some will live this vocation as religious, totally dedicating their lives to the service of God, the Church, and the society. But others are called to give themselves completely to their wife or husband.
In order to give of yourself, you have to forget about your own needs, overcome selfishness, and then, you will be able to truly give yourself to others. This is not an easy task, especially in today's world, when everything leads us on an individualistic path.
Pius XI talks about preparing oneself since childhood. What does he mean?
Virtues are to be achieved and practiced before marriage, because arriving to the altar with a great amount of good wishes and intentions is not going to be enough. Patience, good manners, strong dedication, control over impulses, generosity, happiness and humility can be gifts that one can bring to the altar for his bride/her groom. If I am not in total control of myself, I cannot totally give myself to another person.
What is the training ground?
The family is the field to exercise love. Being obedient to your parents with promptness and joy, making the best efforts in your school and work, being generous with your brothers and sisters, gladly sacrificing yourself for others, being patient with your failures... there are an infinite number of situations in the daily family life to get prepared for marriage. We must point out that the parents’ example is the best way to educate the children about virtues.
College or the workplace, are places where we can train ourselves. For example: working happily, giving the best of yourself, and helping those in need. Finally, in your circle of friends. There is an endless number of shared moments in which to transmit joy, collaborate, offer help, listen, and be courteous, respect each other, avoid criticism and gossip......
In these three different environments of life mentioned above there should be permanent personal formation that will show its fruits in marriage. After this, you will be ready to go ahead with the first step before marriage: courtship
In order to get to know each other better, which is the purpose of courtship, it is important that good dialogue be present. A dialogue that is real, straight forward, not hiding anything from each other. If there are defects, it is better for them to know that we are trying hard to correct them. If, in any way, we don't agree on something, it is better to make it known, rather than to hide it, because in the long run this could lead to conflict, especially if it about important subjects.
Afterwards, you must give and give and give...the best of yourself. The both of you. The more generous one is in the courtship, the easier it will be during the first years of living together as a married couple, because one is already well trained.
And as Jesus said, "without me, you can do nothing”...therefore, pray together. Ask for the grace of growing together every day in love and surrender to each other, in order for you and your spouse to be sanctified in your marriage.
JUDIT HERNÁNDEZ, Lay Member of the Home of the Mother