When we are fortunate enough to experience the pleasurable reality of meeting somebody special and falling in love, fundamental change takes place within us. We experience hormonal, emotional, cognitive, sensual, psychological, spiritual, and even physical change. Falling in love is for many people the greatest ‘high’ ever experienced in their lives. But as our love grows and deepens, an abiding awareness takes hold of us: we want this to last. Our love talk enters the realm of envisaging a shared future together. In other words, we begin to encounter commitment.
What is Commitment?
So what does commitment mean to you? Essentially commitment is a transformational experience that we voluntarily enter into when we move from the world of ‘I’ to the world of ‘We’. In the first instance, it is a negotiated verbal contract of the firm resolve of two partners to remain together, to love and care for one another. It is a verbal promise to share together the journey of life ahead, thus allowing our love to further grow and deepen. And as our love evolves and deepens, we wish to transform our lived verbal contract to that of a solemn public and legal contract in which we publicly declare our love for one another in the presence of family and friends – by marriage.
What kind of Marriage do we want?
The decision to change our loving relationship into a commitment of marriage creates a dilemma for many couples. Previously unimagined questions enter our conscious minds. What kind of union do we want? Do we want a civil ceremony with just a few witnesses present? Are we prepared for the challenges that marriage may bring to our lives? Do we want our marriage to become a day of family involvement and celebration? Do we intend to raise a family? Do we have a spiritual or religious dimension to our lives, and do we wish to see this represented in our marriage ceremony? Though we have not been particularly religious in our daily lives we may choose this option because deep within we realise love is sacred, and that it comes from God. Couples who attend the Accord marriage preparation course: “Marriage – A Journey Not a Destination” have a great opportunity to comprehensively explore the day-to-day dimensions of married life, and to create awareness around the meaning and implications of sacramental marriage within which the blessing of God is invoked.
When we choose sacramental marriage we are attracted by the reality we are entering into a sacred covenant imbued by the love and presence of God.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
This sacred contract is underpinned by the life-long declaration of our commitment to one another and supported by the Church Community and the State in its protection of marriage. Uniquely within sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church, we are not the recipients of a sacrament from a third party: we confer it on one another through the mutual giving of consent. We become ministers of the sacrament and marry one another. The role of the priest is to assist in the ceremony and bless our marriage. Such marriages are invariably communal activities in that the sacramental declaration of marriage consent is made before the Church community. In this manner we integrate our families and friends into the communal celebration of marriage, and the celebration of that most wondrous day in our lives.
Discuss with your partner what each of you envisage marriage to be! What are your goals and objectives for marriage? What are your fears and expectations? How do you see lifelong commitment panning out? Do you favour civil or sacramental marriage?
The Accord marriage preparation course, “Marriage – A Journey Not a Destination” offers an extensive series of activities around commitment. For further information visit: www.accord.ie