by BIS correspondent
WADALA-MUMBAI, DECEMBER 27, 2013: On the first Sunday of Advent a special programme was organised for couples married between 1-10 years. The session was conducted by Fr. Cajetan D. Menezes of Snehalaya Family Service Centre. The duration of the programme was from 9.30am to 12.30 am and it was held at the St. Josephs School Hall Wadala. The day began with couples pouring in from Our Lady of Dolours Church, the host parish as well as other parishes from Dadar, Kurla and Bandra.
After a brief welcome address by the Family cell, Fr. Cajetan started the session by speaking about the Family Centre and about what this program is all about. He made all the couples feel comfortable and broke the ice by asking each couple to give a brief introduction of their spouse and the quality that they appreciated about him/her. It was truly heart-warming as each couple introduced their spouse and all felt the love radiating from the couples fill the room.
Soon after, he depicted through a humorous caricature how the response of a man in a particular situation changes from loving to indifference. On the basis of this a film was screened titled 'MARRIAGE ADJUSTING TO REALITY'. This film had eight couples sharing their love story of what attracted them to each other and the obstacles faced before and after marriage and how they made sacrifices to make their marriage a success.
The lesson the couples learnt from this impactful film was that a happy marriage is the fruit of a continued effort towards acceptance, healing, sustaining and growth. Each couple has their own way of finding what suits them best.
After viewing the film, the participants broke into groups of about four couples per group and had to carry out a group discussion based on a sheet handed to them. Their sharing made for interesting insights. Topics like expectations before and after marriage, difficulties and challenges couples faced post marriage; factors that support and nurture a couple relationships were shared by each group.
What each couple concluded and learnt from this group discussion was that:
a) The common thread that ran through all the couples depicted in the film was a bonding of love which was cemented by being understanding and sensitive to the others needs and having fewer expectations from their spouse.
b) Spending more quality time, discussing issues together and forgiving each other went a long way in nurturing their relationship.
c) Adjustments that had to be made post marriage included giving up some habits both had prior to getting married, temper control, communicating about issues rather than being silent and spending time together in prayer.
d) Factors that made their couple relationship stronger was forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, spending time with each other sharing their experiences.
e) To ensure one does not suffer from unfulfilled expectations in a marriage was to have realistic expectations, accept the other as they are, say I will be the first to adjust.
MALE & FEMALE - GOD MADE THEM DIFFERENTLY
While women value relationships over work; men will give work priority over relationships. Men usually do not share their apprehensions and keep their problems to themselves but women are more verbose and keen to share their problems. If men are asked about their problems they consider it as an intrusion. For women to hear the words 'Honey I love you' or Sorry I hurt you' or 'You're looking nice today' works like magic but men feel women should know these feelings without they saying it. That's why the phrase Women are from Venus, and Men from Mars.
The woman wants her man to be genuine, open, honest and considerate towards her and her feelings. Men often take a lot of things for granted and think verbal communication is only a waste of words.
Keeping these facts before them the couples were given two different handouts: one for the men and one for the women. The husbands had to rate his fears in their relationship on a scale of 1 to 5 which included issues like moodiness, sexual acceptance, over-spending, nagging and fidelity.
The women had to rate their fears similarly on factors like Respect for her views, his job security, disciplining children, helping around the house, sexual demands and infidelity.
Like the previous group discussion the participants broke out into groups, only this time there were all-male and all-female groups. The groups discussed the issues in their handouts and a spokesperson from each group of men and women was asked to share which were the 3 major areas that perturbed them. For men the main issues that disconcerted them were moodiness, nagging and sexual rejection. They expressed their point of view and how differences could be resolved. Simultaneously when women were asked to share their main three areas of concern it was disciplining children, helping around the house, job security and respect for her views. They too delved into how the gap could be bridged and offered some suggestions for the same.
Finally it was Father Cajetan's turn to tell the couples: 'together they could make it happen!' He made them aware, why each one felt differently as God had meant man and woman to be made both physically, emotionally and intellectually different yet he made them to complement each other. Arguments are part of every marriage but communication is the key. It is better to talk it out and share feelings about each other, about their family about things to be done for the house or for the children rather than to keep it to ourselves.
It was important as some couples already had shared to keep a few minutes before bedtime to recoup the events of the day and share each other's achievements and their plans. A goodnight kiss, a good morning hug, a warm goodbye, a warm welcome would go a long way in cementing this beautiful Sacrament of Marriage that God has given to us privileged ones. Finally Father Cajetan gave the couples a secret recipe to follow to make their marriage lively, vibrant and gratifying. He ended with the words "I have given you the recipe, now you have to make the pudding".