Building A Marriage That Taps Into God's Love

“This is a generation that has a real fear about making marriage work, and they’re hungry to figure out how to do it so they don’t end up making the same mistakes they see everyone else making and experiencing that agonizing pain.”
That “agonizing pain” is divorce, and marriage counselors Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak have had many couples approach them for help because they want to avoid the devastating break-ups they witnessed among their own parents, family members and friends. To help newlyweds avoid those pitfalls, the Popcaks have written a book called “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage.”
During a recent interview on “Christopher Closeup,” they discussed their belief that “no newly married couple knows what they are doing when it comes to marriage.” And they admitted that held true for them as well!
Lisa said, “There’s a culture shock to being married: joining your traditions, working out the everyday ins and outs of life, having to live with somebody during all their moods. The Church knows what it’s talking about when it says the vows are ‘for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.’ Most people don’t realize how quickly you’ll go through all those stages, even in the first year of marriage!”
Including God as the third person in your marriage is crucial, say the Popcaks. And one of the best ways to do this is to pray together. Not just go to church together, but actually pray together.  Lisa pointed out, “It brings conflict way down. It’s no longer ‘We’re going to battle to see who’s the superior one in the relationship.’ It’s ‘Let’s pray and ask God what His way is.’ So you both put yourself under the headship of God, and then all that tension and conflict begins to melt away.”
Ironically, a frequent source of conflict in marriage is compromise. Some people think that by doing things differently than they always have, they’re giving up their identity. It’s true that each partner needs to take the other into account when making decisions. You can’t just do what you want for the weekend or the holidays without considering your spouse. But a little self-denial is good for the soul, and actually increases your sense of identity in the long run.
Greg explained, “Our Catholic faith teaches us that we find ourselves by making a gift of ourselves. And the reason I bring that up is because a lot of couples are afraid of losing themselves to the marriage: ‘If I make too many changes, maybe I won’t be me anymore.’ The reality is, we find ourselves by making those changes, we find ourselves in the generosity and the humility and the genuine love that making those changes really takes.”
According to the Popcaks, “God wants to change the world through your marriage.” While that goal sounds lofty, Greg noted that it stems from the Church’s view of marriage: “When we live out this commitment of marriage and love, we don’t have to be perfect at it. We just have to keep striving and keep drawing closer to each other and God. That sends a powerful message to the world that love is possible, that the kind of love we’re all aching for really does exist, and that God wants to give it to you.”
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org      
 

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