March 16, 2012


Preparing for the wedding day & preparing for marriage. There is a difference between one day and a lifetime.

Fr. Tim Birney
Fr. Jim Lopez
Between 2003-2010, I worked with Fr. Tim Birney and Fr. Jim Lopez as a pre-marital counselor at Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark churches near Marine City, MI. It was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had since becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in 1990. As of this writing, both men have moved-on to new assignments: Fr. Tim is director of priestly vocations, and Fr. Jim is administrator at St. Damian parish, but the seven combined years I worked side-by-side with them have enriched my faith in all matters related to church and family.

It was an honor to work with both priests and to reinforce their values to each and every couple who wanted to participate in the sacrament of marriage at Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark churches. Thank you!

There is a difference between a job, a passion and a calling. A job is something we do to earn money so we can keep the lights on at home. A passion is something we do because we feel excited about doing it. A calling is something we do that has spiritual connotations attached to it; it's like a ministry. Working as a pre-marital counselor between the years 2003 -2010 at Holy Cross, St. Mark and St. Catherine churches, my job and passion were my ministry, or gift, to pre-marital couples. I used my counseling skills to minister to over 100 pre-marital couples.

Pre-marital counseling is a powerful thing to see. How does a couple meet? How has their relationship developed? What are their plans for the future? What does it mean to each person to be called to a new vocation through the sacrament of marriage? As each couple would talk about how they would use their gifts to build and develop their marriage, it was a pleasure to hear couples talk about their happy beginnings of a new family.What does it take for two people to get ready for marriage? For two people who are serious about their decision, the answer might be, "Whatever it takes!" It is that type of commitment that makes my work as a pre-marital counselor such a joy!

One of the most important recommendations I conveyed to each pre-marital couple is the concept of ACKNOWLEDGING AND VALIDATING each other every day. It is the difference between practicing selfish love and selfless love.

Selfish love separates each person from the other, whereas, selfless love means we take care of ourselves and each other. Selfish love is dishonest. It can bend the truth and lie. "It's all about me." On the other hand, selfless love is about giving rather than taking. "It's all about us." When each person acknowledges and validates the other, you communicate an understanding of what your partner is thinking, feeling and doing.

The top four risk factors for divorce: Problems with the in-laws, problems with money, religious differences and different styles of parenting the kids. Recommendations to lower the risks:
    1) The in-laws: "Your family is important to me because you're important to me."
    2) Money: Financial fidelity means a couple is on the same page with spending, acts of charity and savings habits.
    3) Religious differences: Spiritually grow by challenging intellectual arrogance and trusting any differences.

    4) Kids and discipline: Avoid the "good-cop, bad-cop" approach. As parents, support each other's decisions.

Short Story:
In honor of National Marriage Day, observed on the 2nd Sunday in February every year, here's a story about three kids deciding to play, "Wedding Day. "

One kid is playing the priest. The other two are playing the bride and the groom.

The mom noticed her children playing the game and chuckled when she overheard the priest say to the groom, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you."

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Written by,
Mark Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor.


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