April 23, 2010

Be Our Guest / Lori Lowe

Catholics need to support bishops in national marriage initiative

“What have you done for your marriage today?”

That is the question posed by Archbishop Wilton Gregory on downtown Atlanta billboards. In fact, the question is a key message of the U.S. bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage.

TV, radio and billboard ads are broadcasting as public service announcements from the Catholic Church, and a Web site offers ideas and tips for strong marriages.

The media push is part of a larger public service campaign—aimed not just at Catholics, but at the larger community—to encourage couples to remember the little things, the everyday expressions of affection, respect and love.

Archbishop Gregory was recently featured advocating for “healthy, loving, giving, life-giving marriages,” and offering support for couples undergoing rocky times.

It is encouraging to see the Church stand up publicly for strong marriages. We as lay people also have important roles in promoting lifelong sacramental marriages.

After all, when our Church families are fractured—and almost half of them are—our Church is fractured. If our children don’t experience successful marriages and families, why would they choose that path?

Here are some ways you can be a marriage-builder right where you are—in your home, parish and community:

  • Model a genuinely loving marriage and family to those around you. Generation X grew up during a doubling of the divorce rate. Many people in that generation and younger have not had many positive marriage role models.
  • Provide support and mentoring for young married couples, three-fourths of whom leave the Church until they are expecting their first child.
  • Pray for marriages and for families in jeopardy, and offer support to those you know.
  • Be a positive voice for marriage in our culture.
  • Help teach children and adolescents about the value of marital sex and lifelong marriage. Explain why this is God’s plan, and how it leads to joy.
  • Set aside prayer time with your spouse. Praying as a couple has been shown in research to improve relationships.
  • Work to improve your marriage skills. Marriages, just like cars, need regular maintenance. The Web site www.foryourmarriage.org, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offers tips on managing finances, careers, prayer and more.
  • Be aware of resources to help local marriage ministries, such as the Association of Marriage and Family Ministries at www.amfmonline.com.

(Lori Lowe is an author and marriage advocate who blogs at www.lifegems4marriage.com. She and her husband, Ming, and their two children attend St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.)

Local site Links: