Habits for a Strong Marriage

CCL interviewed newlywed couples to discover common practices that, when lived during engagement and early marriage, will lay the groundwork for lasting, fruitful, and joyful marriages.


Building on friendship and shared faith, trusting in the Church’s teaching authority, increasing the habit of prayer, and relying on the wisdom of a sponsor couple, Samantha and Daniel Ghan have created a solid framework on which to build their marriage.

Learning What’s Important

As a young Catholic man living in an area consisting mostly of families and older people, Daniel’s ears perked up when a friend at church volunteered to introduce him to another young person, who he quickly determined was “the prettiest Catholic girl in the area.” Samantha, on the other hand, put Daniel firmly in the friend department – for a year and a half!

The pandemic hit and the two began spending time together. Mostly outdoor activities they both enjoyed, and in an environment conducive to getting to know each other well. Daniel surmised that Samantha wanted to confirm that he was marriage material. He proved to be patient as they took time learning what was important and what they had in common.

Sharing The Faith

Both being in the space industry, Samantha and Daniel are practical and logical. Faith and reason go hand in hand. Their Catholic faith was of great importance to both. Samantha knew she wanted to share that faith and its practices with her future husband and children. Samantha inherited a book from her mother of 1001 questions to ask a future spouse. Before their engagement, she made sure each one was talked over – some leading to 30-minute discussions. Daniel remembers the last set of questions basically being about wedding planning and they were engaged shortly afterwards.

Mentors

Marriage prep consisted of more questions with a Deacon, which they breezed through. They also found a mentor couple with whom to go through the Witness to Love program. A friend from Daniel’s church choir was a recent empty nester and he and his wife were thrilled to sponsor them. Daniel says, “They were able to give us great advice, whether it was faith-based or very practical. Marriage and house maintenance both being topics we both valued!”

Choosing A Method

NFP was a subject the couple were already sold on. Being active in youth ministry and the Catholic community for young adults and had heard many talks on the subject. “The idea of contraception never seemed right for me,” says Daniel. “Hearing about NFP in high school, I thought, ’Great. There is a way that is church approved!’” Samantha’s question wasn’t “Should we do NFP or contraception?” but “Which NFP method do we want to use?” They were ready and excited to build the habit of tracking and charting.

Ultimately, they chose the STM method taught by CCL and were pleased with the classes and instruction by their teachers. For the Ghan’s, trusting Church authority concerning natural family planning is like trusting a doctor. Someone who is an expert relying on medical traditions, studied the topic and wants the best outcome for our health. They are confident they can trust the Church to give the correct guidance on what is best for our eternal souls as well as for our physical health.

Prayer Habits

Giving thanks before meals, going to adoration, and listening to the Catechism in a Year, were all practiced during their engagement. They were building the habits they desired to carry over into marriage. Encouraged by a story of how a couple who started to pray together changed their marriage in a positive way, Samantha wanted to do the same with Daniel. “It’s one thing to pray together before meals; it’s another thing to see how someone else interacts with God. It’s important to see the other person’s relationship with God and share that in marriage.”

Daniel, while gravitating toward adoration, is beginning to see the value of regular prayer. They both attended World Youth Day in August of 2023. After their return, a monthly rosary was incorporated into their prayer routine, too.

Friendship In Marriage

Samantha and Daniel, after building a relationship on their long friendship, agree: “Our faith informs our understanding of what marriage is. With the secular understanding of marriage drifting away from its Christian roots, not bringing your faith into your marriage during the engagement process could lead to misunderstandings or different understandings about what exactly you’re agreeing to when you say your vows!”