Last weekend (17 February 2019) we celebrated World Marriage Day in our Parish, during both the Tamil (7am) and English (9am) Masses, respectively. The married couples gathered at the Parish courtyard, and walked in procession into the Church for the Eucharistic celebration. Towards the end of the Mass and just before the final blessing and dismissal, we invited all married couples to come forward and renew their marriage promises. The couples stood up and held their spouses’ hands and declared their consent as below:
“I (name) take you (name) to be my wife/husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honour you all the days of my life.”
After blessing the couples with Holy Water as a sign of renewed commitment, there was a slideshow presentation of their wedding photographs. After Mass, some of the couples gathered at the Parish Hall for fellowship and entertainment which wet on till noon. A big thank you to the Family Life Ministry for organising the event.
What do young adults think about marriage today? It is sad to see many of our young couples end their marriage at a very early stage. Today, the divorce rates have doubled, almost reaching 40 – 50 percent. Young married couples promise to stay together for the rest of their lives, yet many end up going their separate ways after a short time. They discard their dreams, plans and promises made before God, and declare their marriage over!
Why do they find married life so exhausting? Very often they say that the marriage is over, even after much discussion, debate and counselling. They still find no hope in repairing their marriage. The feelings of hurt, pride, betrayal and fear were the reasons spouses were reluctant to move forward in life. Family life becomes stagnant and couples find it hard to start all over again, or to continue where they left off.
Many priests have interviewed couples who were preparing for marriage – when they intend to build a future together. These couples seem to be full of hope and dreams for their life together. However, for many of them, their journey towards a happy marriage falls short. They go through hard times and sometimes forget that marriage is a decision that they made together. Regardless of the situation, it is important to remember not to use these troubled times as an opportunity to shame or be unkind to our spouse. Instead, even in moments of conflict and tension, turn towards each other lovingly.
Couples tend to celebrate their wedding anniversaries after ten, fifteen years etc. but all married couples should make it a point to renew their promises and commitment, annually. By renewing your vows, you take a moment to pause and reflect on your partnership and companionship. As you recommit and renew your promises, remember also to look at the positive experiences that grant affirmation and strength to continue in your married life.
Having said that, every couple needs a little build-up in their marriage once in a while. One of the easiest and sweetest ways to be reminded of your love and commitment to each other is by looking at your wedding album. Most couples, if not all, spend a lot of money on photography and videography on their wedding day. However, many of these albums are just stashed away, out of sight. It makes more sense to put the albums on display, and glance at them once in a while as a family to bring back sweet memories. As you turn each page, experience every emotion and memory of that day, when both you and your spouse made a decision and a promise to each other, before God. Happy marriages make happy families!
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy