Dare to Jump: Forming Couples For Marriage

I’ve never skydived, or bungee jumped, or felt the need to deliberately put myself in death
defying situations. I’m either a scaredy cat or incredibly risk averse – though that may be
beside the point.

I am however, married.

How does that follow? I know, there’s a distinct difference between jumping out of an
aeroplane and getting married. At least practically speaking. However, getting married
involves taking a leap of faith. Sorën Kierkgaard describes it as a “deed of daring.”
“That is why,” writes Alice Von Hildebrand in her excellent book By Love Refined: Letters to a
Young Bride, “a happy marriage is impossible for people who never take any step that might
threaten their security.”

“It is no secret that marriage can quickly become a hell for spouses. But remember that
humanly speaking, a great love between husband and wife can also be the deepest source
of happiness this side of heaven.”

In terms of vocational formation it has always fascinated me that priests will spend at least 7
years in study and pastoral placement before receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders, yet
married couples may spend less than 10% of that same time preparing for the Sacrament of

Now, I am not suggesting that they need to spend 7 years in a seminary-like environment in
order to prepare for marriage. However, ongoing human and spiritual formation before and
after marriage are a vitally important dimension for creating and maintain healthy

It’s certainly no secret that marriage rates are low, and marriage breakdowns incredibly
common. Though part of this stems from the secularisation of our culture, the lack of
targeted human formation in this area certainly plays a part.

The important thing to remember here is not risk minimisation – cohabiting before marriage
as a ‘trial run’ is not helpful despite being a common process for couples considering

It is also important to recognise that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. No amount
of formation will make your relationship with your spouse perfect. But it will help.
There are incredible resources out there for engaged and married couples – Byron and
Francine Pirola’s Smart Loving programs are an excellent starting point and can be
undertaken online. Prepare and Enrich, a relationship-based inventory program that helps couple decode, and facilitate, their strengths and areas for growth in their marriage.

Accompanied by a couples therapist this inventory style approach provides individually
tailored support and guidance. Kimberley Hahn’s Chosen and Cherished: Biblical Wisdom
for your marriage, is another resource worth looking into. If you’re not a reader, her Beloved
and Blessed podcast also covers the same content as her book series.

We need to be equipping young people with the confidence to take the risk and embrace
marriage. Again, I turn to Alice von Hildebrand for her exquisite description:
“How awe-inspiring to see the beauty of another soul, to love him, and then be permitted to
share in his intimacy, actually become one with him! There’s no earthly experience that is
greater than this unity of souls, minds, hearts, and bodies in marriage”

“…You’ll have to face the problems of marriage yourself. Your success won’t depend on
exterior circumstances, but on your own inner attitudes: are you both willing to fight the good
fight for your marriage, trusting that your mutual love, strengthened by grace, will achieve
victory in spite of the tempests that threaten every human undertaking?”

To paraphrase a chant from my junior softball days: Dare, Fight, Win. Let the graces in!

VM Writer and Graphic Designer. Wife of one, mother of 8. Tackling growth in virtue one (baby) step at a time.

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