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Communication, forgiveness builds healthy, life-giving married life

Kendell and Latoya Celestine, Coordinator couple of the Catholic Engaged Encounter of Trinidad and Tobago (CEETT), offer some advice on married life to newlyweds.

Photo: Gerard-Paul Wanliss

How long have you been married and how did you meet?

We have been married for thirteen and a half years. Our moms worked together at the Tunapuna Library. Kendell’s mom invited my mom and me to do the Life in the Spirit Seminar and thereafter our friendship and relationship began.

How would you describe your journey of marriage? What were the highs and lows?

Our marital journey was challenging at first. After the bliss of being newlyweds wore off and the reality of us living together set in, we had to accept each other’s flaws and shortcomings which did not happen easily.

Varying challenges occurred over the years such as loss of a job and relationship with in-laws. However, with constant communication and perseverance we overcame the lows or challenging times. We also relied on God to carry us through.

The highs are the simple joys of spending time with each other. The births of our three children, many vacations spent as a family, career accomplishments and the moments when we get to spend quality time together as that does not happen as frequently as before.

How and why did you get involved with Engaged Encounter?

After doing our Engaged Encounter weekend in April 2009, we enjoyed the experience so much that when we were contacted to assist on a weekend, we answered the call.

Being in the company of couples preparing others for marriage and their willingly sharing their marital experiences encouraged us to want to do the same.

How can we give back as a couple is a shared value we have and being involved in CEETT gave us that opportunity.

We started off assisting in the background and with the encouragement of others and having faith in God, we began presenting. We have been presenters for seven years.

What is the purpose of Engaged Encounter? How important is it in preparing for marriage?

CEE is an international marriage preparation programme that helps prepare couples for marriage. It is a very important step as it lays the foundation for building a healthy and life-giving relationship.

During the Encounter the engaged couples are equipped with tools like understanding myself, conflict resolution and effective communication, just to name a few. These tools will help the couples with resolving any problems that they could face in the future and achieve true unity in the union.

We share that marriage is a sacrament and not just the next step taken after dating for some time.

What is the most important piece of advice you can give to young married couples?

As individuals we must master the art of forgiveness. We need to acknowledge the misconception that we are perfect, and our spouse makes all the mistakes. The harsh reality is that we do just as much wrong as we are wronged. Remember it is not a matter of who is better or smarter or better off financially but how we can use our strengths to enhance the marriage. It is now two becoming one, so each person in the marriage will have to sacrifice something at some point to achieve balance in the relationship.

Also talk! Open the channels for effective communication. It is easier to read a book when it is open. So, share your feelings, thoughts and fears so that your partner will be able to better understand you.