By Susan Gately - 08 February, 2014
Marriage Week, an initiative to support and encourage married couples and those preparing for marriage began yesterday and runs until 14 February.
In the UK, Marriage Week UK has launched the Big Promise and today, 8 February 2014 at 5:15pm there will be an attempt to break the world record for the highest number of people to simultaneously reaffirm their wedding vows. This stands at 1,089 couples and was set in the US in 2009.
In Ireland, couples are being invited to take time this week “individually and as a couple, to reflect upon the vows you have made. Re-visit. Re-connect. Re-commit”, according to David Smyth, Chair of Marriage Week NI.
“We believe that this social institution between a man and a woman for life, which has been enshrined in the history of civilisation, provides vital inter-generational links and stability bringing benefits to all of society,” he said.
Mr Smyth pointed to the “investment” that Churches are making in local communities by sustaining strong families.
“In Northern Ireland, over 70% of Churches offer Marriage preparation courses, over 30% offer marriage enrichment courses and around 70% of weddings still take place in Church.”
He quotes a recent report from the Tavistock Centre in the UK, reported in the Daily Telegraph, which shows that every £1.00 spent on Marriage Care could lead to £11.50 in benefits.*
He invited couples to take time this week to “reflect, celebrate and support marriage”, through three practical actions – firstly, to re-visit wedding vows, to make time for your spouse and finally, to attend or run a marriage course in 2014.
“This is the most costly in terms of time and effort but there are so many great resources out there and so many couples who would benefit from a marriage course,” he said.
Fiona Perrem from the Nazareth Family Institute in Dublin says that making time for each other as spouses, is very important. “The main thing is to keep emotional intimacy alive,” she told CatholicIreland.net.
“Often we begin to take each other for granted. You think, ‘I know this person, I don’t have to tell him/her that thing’.”
Ms Perrem, married to husband Peter for 47 years, said that often in a relationship the children are given precedence and it was important to have ‘date’ time – a morning, an afternoon or an evening – even an hour, with your spouse.
“We can ask each other ‘How are we doing? Is there anything you want to say to me?’ Keep the lines of communication open.”
She sad that non-sexual touching is very important for intimacy. “It can be a hug or a touch on the shoulder as you pass your spouse. These are the little things that you had or did when you met first.”
“On your wedding day you made the total gift of yourself to your spouse, and you received the gift of the other person. What an amazing gift, but do we, perhaps, take it for granted?” she asked.
The Nazareth Family Institute runs pre-marriage and marriage courses, and Peter and Fiona also run pre-marriage courses for individual couples.
Other groups supporting marriage or providing pre marriage courses or counselling are: Together.ie, Family Life Resources, The Marriage Course, All Hallows Pre-Marriage courses, Milltown Pre-Marriage Course, Accord, Alpha Marriage/Pre-Marriage Courses, Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter, United Marriage Encounter, Focus on the Family, Care for Family, the Iona Institute, Evangelical Alliance and the Irish Association of Christian counsellors.
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