By Vernon Khelawan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Sunday, my charming and lovely wife Joan and I celebrated 56 years, as they say, of “wedded bliss”, a misnomer if ever there was one, but one we will continue to use.
I thank Almighty God humbly for bringing us this far in life and hope He will grant us more years in this truly remarkable journey.
People may say that by ‘blowing my own trumpet’ is really a pappyshow, a mamaguy, but I say so in the context of the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage, which in today’s world doesn’t seem to have the same appeal as it did in years gone by.
The Church, through its Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC), is making great efforts to drill home to young couples, the importance of total commitment in this sacred union and the sacrifices that will have to be made throughout married life, especially when children come along and all that goes with raising them.
But most importantly, people getting ready to tie the knot must remember that God must be the centre of their union.
Realising the importance of the sacrament is paramount and I hope the Church, using all the various programmes that become available, can keep up the fight to make young couples continuously strengthen their relationships. Kudos for that.
I’m writing about this because for more than 40 years Joan and myself were involved in the Commission’s Marriage Preparation programme, lecturing to couples, mixed religious faiths notwithstanding, all over the Archdiocese.
We even did programmes in Antigua and Barbuda when I was in charge of a national daily newspaper on that twin-island.
At that time, the programme consisted of presenters talking to couples, some interaction with them, but mainly life experiences that the lecturers went through in their own married life.
We spoke to them about real life things like communications; in-laws; parenting; finances and of course, the sacrament itself.
However, with the onset of technology and more modern methods of getting the ‘marriage message’ to the young couples, we opted out, old timers as we had then become. We did what we had to do.
The AFLC, in keeping up with the technology and the times made changes to the programme which included adapting an American programme, ‘Joy Filled Marriage’ (JFM). Understanding that there would be several serious cultural differences, the programme was crafted to local use while still keeping a local flavour so that couples fully benefit from it.
So far, the programme is on track and going very well. The adaptations have been put in place and its virtual nature, which affords participants to ask questions, relative to the topic they are discussing and to get answers.
But this is not a stand-alone programme and the Commission knows this. As an adjunct to JFM, there are several other marriage-oriented programmes which go hand in hand as the Archdiocese ‘married’ several other marriage-oriented courses and family life programmes.
We (Joan and I) look forward to hearing of the continued progress of JFM as it brings much hope and joy to couples planning to get married. We hope that it brings as much, if not more satisfaction, to both presenters and those hoping to get married. It is our earnest wish that JFM will result in couples staying in their union for as long as we did.
While we all wish that married life would be as beautiful as the wedding day itself, a couple must face the realities of life. Married life is not as easy and beautiful as the wedding day. The vagaries are many; the problems are seemingly non-stop, more so, when children come on the scene.
While we champion the cause of the AFLC and wish them continued success in their various programmes, we want to say we are with you.
One last word: Congratulations to Dr Peter Gentle and his lovely wife Claudette on reaching 52 years of “wedded bliss”.