As the celebrations of the World Meetings of Families drew to a close at the end of June, I took interest in the families which were selected from around the world to travel to Rome. The Abdallah’s from Western Sydney were among the Australian families who attended. I am astounded by their strength of enduring the heart ache of losing three children and a niece, yet despite this, their message is one of love and forgiveness. The Abdallah’s have a strong faith and a strong marriage.
To create a strong marriage at times needs assistance.
In Pope Francis’ letter to marriage couples in the “Amoris Laettia Family” year of 2021-2022 he writes:
“Marriage, as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat – wave-tossed yet sturdy, thanks to the reality of the sacrament – across a sometimes-stormy sea. For some couples, the enforced living conditions during the quarantine were particularly difficult. Pre-existing problems were aggravated, creating conflicts that in some cases became almost unbearable. Many even experienced the breakup of a relationship that had to deal with a crisis that they found hard or impossible to manage. The breakdown of a marriage causes immense suffering, since many hopes are dashed, and misunderstandings can lead to arguments and hurts not easily healed. Children end up having to suffer the pain of seeing their parents no longer together. Keep seeking help, then, so that you can overcome conflicts and prevent even more hurt for you and your children.”
In a recent article from Vatican News, in a preface for a new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life document, Pope Francis has urged the Church to help better prepare future spouses for marriage so as to avoid the suffering caused by broken families.
Many couples, he noted, receive only superficial preparation before their wedding and therefore risk setting their marriage on such weak foundations that it “falls apart in a short space of time and cannot withstand even the first inevitable crises.”
It is reassuring to know that our diocese facilitates credible and award-winning marriage and relationship education programs, to support couples feel secure and strengthen prior to making their vows and commitment. This support enables them to be more resilient and to develop a realistic view of what married life encompasses.
Our Diocesan Marriage and Relationship Team offer a variety of courses for couples at various stages of life which include ‘Before We Say I Do’, ‘Time for us’ and ‘Bringing Baby Home.’ The engaging strategies in the courses assist couples stay together in both good and bad times.
Robyn Donnelly, Marriage and Relationship Education Coordinator is incredibly proud of the courses provided and feels privileged to have supported hundreds of couples over the last 24 years.
“I am so passionate about our team and role we play in the lives of couples who present prior to their marriage and those who come seeking mentoring and support during the course of their marriage.
"We know from experience that love and actions need to be intentional. The aim and objectives of our service is to provide couples with the research and skills that enable them to stay intentional in their relationship and marriage. Our belief is that we can expect great things in relationships when commitment, love and skill work together. We have over 40 years of research to share that will enable couples to use it in “real life” to ensure their relationship stays intentional, on track and avoid relationship meltdowns.”
The feedback from the courses speaks of the value of preparation and the difference it has made in their commitment to their vows.
Before We Say I Do
“Everything the Facilitator presented to us, impacted our relationship positively to not only to challenge us individually but has brought us together and closer by ensuring we are accountable to the research.
We thoroughly enjoyed the course content and research more than we expected going into it. The private discussions were fun and beneficial and allowed us to get to know each other more than we already did.”
Time for Us
“Whilst we may have thought we were going well as a couple Time for Us highlighted the need for us to revisit the expectations each of us held, historically and currently.
"The Facilitator was encouraging, inspiring and skilful, we completed the sessions with increased motivation, pride, and enjoyment in our most precious, loving relationship.
"We shared our experience with our adult children just to remind them of the importance of growing and nurturing your relationship.”
“We believe good relationships and marriages don’t just happen. In this day and age of investing in quality training to stay accredited in the workplace, so we see the same need to invest in this, the most important relationship, your coupleness. As with employment training where Research underpins each course, so is the Research associated with the Time for Us Program. Robyn demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the research and this informed the curious questioning and positive discussion we experienced. The beliefs we had about our relationship were challenged at times and we were able to come to a greater understanding of ourselves and us as a couple. Whilst we may have thought we were going well as a couple it highlighted the need for us to revisit the expectations each of us held, historically and currently. Boy! What a revelation and rather than being just a “good” couple we started striving to be an exceptional couple just by adopting the journaling and discussion exercises on a daily/weekly basis. With Robyn’s warm encouraging and inspiring nature and skills we completed the sessions with increased motivation, pride and enjoyment in our most precious, loving relationship. We shared our experience with our adult children just to remind them of the importance of growing and nurturing your relationship. This is the best gift you can give to each other.”
Bringing Baby Home
“The sessions are an investment in developing a strong and supportive family unit. Very worthwhile.”
The Marriage and Relationship Team are currently planning a ‘Date Night’. This is an opportunity for couples to share a meal and hear some of the research which supports couples to stay connected, negotiate their differences and build a strong emotional bank account. Positive, safe relationships matter, to our mental health, families, workplaces, colleagues, and communities.
Programs are open to all. If you are interested in hearing the research, register for some sessions to support your relationship, interested in our Date Time or joining the Marriage and Relationship Education team, please call our office on 4979 1370 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image- Unsplash-Danie Franco