Patrick J. DiVietri Ph.D. CPC, OCDS
“The family is an intimate community of life and love, whose mission is to guard, reveal, and communicate love” (From Familiaris Consortio, #31).
“Have you come here freely . . .?”
At the time of matrimony between a man and a woman in the Catholic Church there is an opening interrogation prior to the proclamation of the vow itself. It contains this question, “Have you come here freely to give yourselves to each other in marriage?” This question is to clarify that there is no impediment or coercion to their entrance into forming the bond of marriage. It is in that bond that a partnership for the whole of life takes place. The vow will a partnership of goods that will permeate the marriage.
This partnership is revealed in how the couple carries out their life activities, decisions and responsibilities. Any marital or family problem is a matter for the partnership. Maintaining civility and mutual respect and cooperation is the critical practical dynamic. When these are lost restoring them becomes the primary objective before anything else can be accomplished because they are pre-emptive to the expression of trust. Partnership is practically expressed in paying bills, raising children, religious practice in and outside the home, family relations, decision making, handling all chores and family operations etc.
It is important for the couple to have some clear objective of what they will do if the partnership is threatened. The disposition that is desired looks like, “I will do whatever it takes to preserve the partnership of this marriage.” That attitude, in mutual cooperation and the grace of God will weather and overcome any obstacle when combined with perseverance. It behooves the couples to ask the questions of themselves that will provide some focus on what they might do to preserve the marriage.
- Have you talked about decision making and sharing of a mutual life together?
- Have you ever talked about what you will do if you become unhappy in marriage?
- Would you be willing to seek counseling with a priest or a professional and do whatever is necessary to strengthen your partnership in the marriage?
- Do you know other couples who did or did not do this and how things worked out for them?