SINGAPORE – Celebrate Marriage 2008 was held on the afternoon of May 19 at the neighbouring locations of Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre.

The event, organized by Marriage Encounter Singapore (M.E.), consisted of four concurrent talks on the basic issues faced by married couples in Singapore – finance, parenting, and couple relationship – followed by celebration of Mass with renewal of marital vows for couples celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. The talks drew about 400 people while the congregation at Mass numbered about 700.

One of the speakers, Sister Una Boland, helped couples to understand that one of the best ways to maintain the "specialness" in marriage is through communication, the goal of which is revelation and not resolution.

Most often, it is when one reveals oneself to one’s spouse that there is a greater possibility for resolution to problems, as it is through revelation that the couple can reach an understanding of each other, she explained.

Another speaker, Adrian Lim, a counselling psychologist by profession, said the key challenge for families is to balance the needs, demands, wants, challenges, and responsibilities faced by families. Ultimately, the single most important factor that contributes to avoidance of unhealthy behaviours is a child’s connection with his parents, he said.

Father Michael Arro spoke on couple love and Father Paul Staes spoke on money matters.

FATHER MICHAEL ARRO’S talk on "Couple Love; Contagious Love" reminded couples, that in marriage both parties refer to each other not merely as "my companion", but as "my spouse", that is, one who loves the other most. He stressed that marriage is a process in which continued openness and communication is required for the two to be harmonized.

Being passionately in love means putting our spouse first, but there is always a tension between self-giving and self-taking. Father Arro offered four points to help spouses love each other in the way that he or she needs to be loved:

1. Make time to listen to each other. It is important to listen to what is being said and what is not being said.

2. There is a need to trust each other because of the love that a couple shares.

3. Forgive each other; continue giving to each other and give something extra.

4. We need to pray in order to have a mind that is free from prejudices. It is important for there to be couple prayer, in which spouses open up to each other and express to each other what needs to be said to and for each other.

Father Arro explained that couple love is contagious love because it affects the couple’s children, the people around them, and the people they interact with at work.

Father Paul say money matters

IN "MONEY MATTERS in a Christian Marriage", Father Paul Staes explained how control over money can lead to power struggles within the marriage or to financial and marital harmony, depending on how spouses resolve their different and frequently opposing views of money based on their values and upbringing.

He stressed that unity in marriage is the approach needed to tackle money matters such as the merging of finances, dealing with debt, keeping spending in check, investments, and emergency planning. He added that keeping big financial secrets from each other can ruin a marriage.

Father Paul reminded couples that the qualities for handling money matters in marriage are the same as those needed for a good marriage: commitment to unity, communication and openness, honesty and accountability, mature freedom and trust, flexibility and a sense of humour. n

 - By Daniel Tay

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