We just took a class called God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage, curriculum based on 1. the biblical foundation for marriage by God’s design (i.e. Genesis 2; Matthew 19; Eph 5; 1 Cor 7) – and examining what all that actually means – and 2. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (=amazing. Study it.).
Key take-aways: entering marriage must be a Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful mutual self giving, each of these four qualities is equally necessary, and equally influential and dependent on the others. JPII’s TOB is pretty intense, but in summary I would say it addresses: What does it mean to be “man” by God’s design. What does it mean to be “woman” by God’s design. What does “one flesh” really mean (and love vs. lust). How do we take all this and live it out in our indissoluble marital unions. There are books upon books studying TOB, which was compiled in the 80’s based on JPII’s General Audiences from 1979-1984. TOB seems to me to have picked up momentum in the last decade with certain subsets of Gen Y. A very logical atheist could look at the body’s natural design and arrive at some of the same conclusions as JPII, but it’s way cooler when you consider how we were designed with purpose by a Creator who loves us and wants us to be full of joy (and our marriages too!).
We’ve also been going to a series of four sermons on the marriage topic by a Presbyterian pastor, which have been really good. Quite a bit of overlap in biblical references from our (Catholic) Joy-filled Marriage class to this (Presbyterian) talk series, which is really cool. Last weekend’s talk was on the importance of emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy as being equally important and equally dependent and influential on one another.
We are pumped about all this stuff. In theory… it’s beautifully fool proof. In practice… well, we certainly know that our marriage will have its share of challenges! Sometimes we just chuckle; we are doing all this marriage prep and talking about all these things but at the end of the day, like every marriage, ours is going to require hard work and sacrifice and unconditional love and respect even (especially) in tribulations.
Up next is Natural Family Planning (NFP), which we are especially pumped about. NFP is a diligent practice that serves as a sort of “game plan” for chastity within a marriage, upholding one another’s dignity and human nature, and of course achieving or avoiding pregnancy by observing the natural fertility cycle. NFP employs the principles of self-mastery, self-giving, all three kinds of intimacy, communication, and an intense study of male/female fertility by both partners. In other words, Dan is going to know what my body is up to pretty much all the time… which, as you can imagine, has great benefits! Imagine, a man’s tender consideration of what’s happening in his wife’s body any given time of the month – what a beautiful thing. It’s not a cure-all for marital issues, but it’s a great habit and the statistics supporting NFP are incredible.
Chart and sharpies in hand... we’ll start NFP class in January. I’m stoked.