Saturday, December 15, 2012
The One-Year Itch (Post-Cana Post)
About one year after a marriage begins, the married couple enters a period of disillusionment, says Dr. Phil Mango. That's when they realize that neither of them is perfect, and one person's faults are reflected in the other person's reaction almost daily. The same thing happens to newly ordained priests. After years spent in the seminary immersed in the beauty of their vocation, the reality of today's modern parishes can hit them hard, our pastor tells us. Our pastor's job at the diocesan level is to support and counsel the newly ordained priests. But who at the diocese, or even at the parish, serves that function for newly married couples?
The Pontifical Council for the Family recommended that parishes provide support for people through the first five years of marriage, but those supports seem few and far between. Most ministries seem targeted at engaged couples or people who have already divorced or separated. Some laudable ministries try to help couples put the marriage back together after it has started to fall apart. But we have seen little else, particularly ongoing efforts at the parish level. My husband and I can attest that it is hard to reach couples in the first five years of marriage. Especially once children are born, every moment of the day seems packed. If you're going to hire a babysitter, chances are you'd rather spend that time alone together, rather than in a social setting with other couples.
My husband and I had a rough first year or two of marriage. My grandfather died, my husband was diagnosed with his first brain tumor, I became pregnant with our first child, and the law firm where I worked turned down my bid for partnership. I stopped working as a lawyer and began staying at home with our newborn daughter, and the transition was wrenching for me. My husband and I went out once a month to dinner at a restaurant, where I talked non-stop about how miserable I felt. Being a psychiatrist, my husband bravely withstood the flood of misery and the waterfalls of tears. Eventually, we added a Eucharistic Holy Hour to our so-called "hot date night." After dinner, we joined other parishioners at our church to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. My misery abated, and my husband and I made it through our period of disillusionment, our "one-year itch."
After experiencing the graces that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament brought to our marriage, I was thrilled to learn that the bishops' new initiative to support marriage includes a monthly Eucharistic Holy Hour. A Eucharistic Holy Hour provides an opportunity to reconnect with the Lord and each other. This year is the perfect time to give it a try, if you haven't already. Call your parish, or neighboring parishes, to see what is available. Then, go to dinner ahead of time, and get the babysitters to stay another few hours. It might help you make it through a current period of disillusionment, or maybe prevent a future one.