Laying the Groundwork for Lasting Marriage

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

Taylor and James had the quintessential high school romance and have been “inseparable” since meeting as competitors in water polo. They credit learning strong communication skills, having regular prayer routines and practices, and listening to wise advice from mentor couples during their engagement as the basis for a strong start to their marriage.

While dating, they were encouraged by James’s mom to go to an informational meeting about NFP. They were able to take a full NFP class as part of their marriage preparation program. As much of their engagement was long distance, Taylor explains, “It helped us communicate because doing it over long distance was pretty rough. I would wake up and text James my temperature and then he would log it and analyze it for me.”

For James, the best way to reap the fruits of NFP is to listen closely to what the other is saying and what their needs are. Having to communicate long distance improved the way he is able to care for Taylor now they are married. “It makes me more involved as Taylor’s husband as I get to be attentive to her body and needs. It is easy to feel distant from what is going on. NFP drives married couples to not only be extremely present but open to God’s plan.”

Living apart while engaged was a challenge. Prayer routines and practices were at the crux of their relationship during that period of separation. James says, “The largest priority was having a personal faith life, and a faith life with each other. There are three people in marriage: you, your spouse, and God in the middle.” Taylor found that once they were no longer long distance, it was much easier to prioritize their spiritual lives.

As Taylor and James prepared for marriage, they took their parish marriage prep class. This involved clarifying what marriage meant in the Catholic Church. Taylor states, it “helped us work through the big questions (politics, parenting, economics, life goals, sexuality, conflict, communication, etc.). The best marriage advice we got was related to each other and our families. It was to listen and ask what someone is concerned about from their perspective. It is important to recognize your spouse has fears, and feelings. The best thing you can give your spouse is a listening ear and an understanding heart (even if you disagree).”

Another foundational part of their marriage prep was meeting consistently with another married couple who set a strong and positive precedent for the couple. Taylor and James found them to be a big inspiration and an example of kindness and patience for each other. “They were amazing examples, and we try to emulate them daily. We got great advice about how to handle conflict and work on our faith in ways we had never thought of. They are still in contact with us, and we catch up whenever possible,” enthused Taylor.

James concurs. “The couple we learned from in marriage prep taught us that when you feel like you are failing your spouse, ask God to make up for it and to grant you the grace to love a little more. It isn’t always about constantly improving or having perfect days but giving your spouse unconditional love and respect. God is the center of marriage and will guide you to be a better spouse even if you don’t realize it. Every interaction, and every day you wake up there is a possibility of learning something new or a chance to change the way you think and feel.”

James and Taylor now feel their faith has grown since their marriage as they are regularly reading the Bible together each night and attending mass every Sunday. “It helps us see the bigger perspective and understand how we should truly love one another the way God intended us to,” explains Taylor.

When asked what advice they would give to newly engaged couples about bringing faith into their relationship from the beginning, they agree that starting good prayer habits, going to mass, and reading scripture together, even if one of you is tired and just listening, will truly help bring you closer to each other and to God.