Planning Your Catholic Wedding
The honeymoon and beyond
Your celebration of the sacrament of marriage doesn't end when you walk out of the church, hand in hand; your choice to give yourselves to each other freely and without hesitation has only just begun. "For God, who has called the couple to Marriage, continues to call them to Marriage. Those who marry in Christ are able, with faith in the Word of God, to celebrate fruitfully the mystery of union of Christ and the Church, to live it rightly, and to bear witness to it publicly before all" (Order of Celebrating Matrimony #11). Marriage is a choice that requires daily practice and renewal. Here are some tips for nurturing your relationship during the joyful and challenging transitions of the first few years of marriage.
Your honeymoon is not only a time to unwind from the busyness of the wedding. It's also a time to connect as a couple, and to begin the sorts of practices that will keep you connected during your first few months of marriage. Here are some common-sense tips for a fun and relaxing honeymoon:
- Keep it real. You can have the "perfect honeymoon," as long as you don't expect everything to go smoothly. Don't let bumps in the road (delayed planes, missed connections, sunburn, illness) spoil the mood. Flexibility and a sense of humor are key.
- Make time for prayer. Even if you're not a "spiritually compatible" couple, spend at least a few moments praying together on a regular basis. Most studies show that couples who share faith and spiritual practices tend to have more successful marriages, see "Faith and Spirituality" for ideas. You can look up Mass times and locations at MassTimes.org. If you're not sure how to begin praying together as a couple, check out "Who Me, Pray?...With Her?"
- Allow each other some "alone time." It seems counterintuitive, but taking some time to be apart from one another during your honeymoon might actually improve your experience, especially if you or your spouse have an introverted personality.
- Keep it affordable. Money is one of the top sources of stress for married couples, so you probably don't want to begin your marriage by putting too much of your honeymoon on credit cards.
- Be of service. Consider giving your time together to assit a community in need, such as a local community center or an international mission trip through your parish.
"And they lived happily ever after," goes the stock fairytale ending. Many couples view that enduring happiness as the ultimate goal of married life. But romantic feelings alone won't get you to "happily ever after." As any couple celebrating decades of marriage will tell you, successful and satisfying marriages require intentional care and nurturing. Following are a few resources to help you with that task.
Marriage enrichment programs and groups
There are literally dozens of different programs for couples wishing to enrich their marriage. Some are faith-based; others focus on saving troubled marriages, or are aimed at helping particular groups of married people (such as newlyweds and new parents). Some of the more popular Catholic programs include Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Living in Love, Teams of Our Lady, and Marriage Retorno. For a complete list of programs, including descriptions and contact information, see the Marriage Programs page at ForYourMarriage.
Possibly the best marriage resource online, ForYourMarriage.org is an initiative of the U.S. Catholic bishops that offers a wealth of resources, including blogs and e-newsletters that you can subscribe to for free. Here are some of the highlights:
- What Makes Marriage Work? This section of the website delves into the five factors that promote a healthy marriage: commitment, common values, conflict resolution skills, communication, and spirituality and faith.
- Marriage Rx. This section of the website offers articles on a wide range of issues that may challenge your marriage, including sex, in-laws, parenting, chores, and more. See also the Overcoming Obstacles section, which covers issues such as disillusionment, caregiving, and miscarriage.
- Marriage Resource Center. This part of the website will hook you up with books, articles, weekly date ideas, and more.
Foundations is a bi-monthly newsletter edited by marriage educators Steve and Kathy Beirne, who call themselves "cheerleaders for new marriages." "Our goal is to offer resources for couples starting on the journey of married life," they say. "No matter how old you are or what your previous experience is, if you are beginning a marriage you have some unique challenges and opportunities ahead of you. Newly married couples have a lifetime of experiences to meld together into one unit. How will you manage your finances? How will you relate to one another's families? What is your attitude toward the spiritual side of life? How do you like to spend your spare time? Foundations newsletter takes each of these issues and many others and discusses them in the context of this stage of relationship. It teaches skills that enable a couple to learn healthy ways to handle whatever challenges they are presented with."
Still have questions? Check out Catholic Wedding Questions and Answers