Marriage enrichment: Celebrating marriage

Strong, long-lasting partnerships serve as role models for us all

By Marian Christiana

Bishop Richard F. Stika and the Office of Marriage and Enrichment will be honoring long-lasting marriages in February. Before I get into the details of that, let me discuss the importance of long-lasting marriages.

Long-lasting marriages are an inspiration to all of us. Marriages tend to ebb and flow over the years through good times and bad. When we see others who have worked through adversity it gives us hope in our ability to sustain a lifelong, loving marriage. Those men and women in long-term marriages are role models for the rest of us even if they don’t realize it.

Recently my sister, Kass, lost her husband, Tom “Tommy” DuRoss, quite suddenly. Kass and Tommy were married for 36 years. Their marriage was based on faith, family, friends and service. Their life together had an extremely positive ripple effect throughout their circle of influence. I don’t think they were consciously trying to be good role models for a sacramental marriage, but role models they were just the same.

The positive effect of their strong partnership began very early in their marriage. They collected friends wherever they lived, worked and played. Hospitality was a cornerstone of their home. As a direct result of their hospitality, five other couples met and married their spouses. My husband, Ralph, and I are one of those couples. Although two of the other husbands have preceded Tommy in death, these couples can boast of 200 years of marriage among them.

Hopefully, all five of the marriages that can trace the origins of their own relationship to the friendship they shared with Tommy and Kass have had their own positive influence on the communities in which they live.

We need to celebrate the success stories of our marriages and of the strong marriages around us. We need to hold up long-lasting marriages as signs of hope, proof that love can last through the good times as well as times of struggle.

Marriage has really taken a hit in our modern Western culture. Rarely is a happily married couple the central theme of a movie, television show or a popular song. Social media, along with other forms of media, promote the destructive end of relationships as inevitable. Our culture makes it seem impossible to be happily married for a lifetime.

It is not impossible. In fact, it is quite possible! Proof is all around us. We need to be shouting our successes from the rooftops and holding couples like Tommy and Kass up as wonderful examples of marriages that have lasted.

To this end, Bishop Stika and the Office of Marriage Preparation will be celebrating long-lasting marriages in various ways throughout the month of February. First, we will use diocesan social media outlets to share uplifting stories of married couples within our diocese, those who have made a positive impact in their circle of influence. My office will be posting your submitted stories on our Marriage Enrichment portion of the diocesan website, our Marriage Enrichment Facebook page and on the main Facebook page for the diocese.

If you would like to submit a story about a long-lasting marriage that has inspired you, please submit it to me by Jan. 11 at mchristiana@dioknox.org with the subject title “A Marriage Love Story.” Please limit your stories to 300 words.

Also, we will submit bulletin notices to all parishes each week in February that will offer a marriage enrichment tip for the week. And if you would like to get a head start in reading and incorporating positive tips for successful marriages into your daily routine, you can find them at http://www.foryourmarriage.org/marriage-resources/tips-and-advice/

In addition, Bishop Stika is initiating an effort to annually recognize the longest-married couple in each of our parishes. Inspired by Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s (WWME) “Longest Married Couple Project” established in 2010, Bishop Stika and the Office of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment will send each honoree couple a diocesan award to recognize their achievement. It is our hope that each parish will acknowledge their longest-married couple on the annual World Marriage Day, which falls on Sunday, Feb. 14. Please submit your nominees to your parish secretary by Dec. 14. We will need the following information:

■ Full name of each spouse;
■ Wedding date;
■ Mailing address;
■ Phone number;
■ E-mail address.

Through this diocesan effort to identify the longest-married couple in each parish we also will identify the longest-married couple in our diocese each year.

The diocesan couple who holds the record for being married the longest will receive special recognition by Bishop Stika. We then will submit their names and information to the WWME annual project to identify and celebrate the longest-married couple in each state and in our country. One of our own couples hopefully will be the state honoree.

All state honorees will receive congratulatory letters from the leadership of Marriage Encounter in addition to recognition in the Federal Congressional Record and letters from the governor and local legislators.

Let’s celebrate our marital success stories! These wonderful couples have had such a positive impact on the world around them, one that will live on in the hearts and minds of those who were lucky enough to know them. I look forward to reading and sharing your stories of a successful marriage that has impacted you and the community around you.

Get writing! ■

Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.

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