“When I came home, I always felt like I was coming home to heaven.”
Those were the words from Georgeann Lovett’s adult son after she asked him what it was like growing up as a child in their home. Her son explained that as an only child he had a great time hanging out with his friends and their families, but it couldn’t compare to the home environment that his parents provided.
“His reply was so powerful and I get emotional when I think about it, but I think to myself, I broke the cycle of abuse and hate and fear that I experienced as a child,” says Georgeann Lovett. “My son grew up in a healthy, loving home. Now he’s married and has three wonderful little girls that are growing up to be healthy, happy children.”
Georgeann Lovett, coordinator for marriage preparation at Holy Family Cathedral, believes that a marriage brings stability to the home and society.
“There is a movie with a line in it where the actor says, ‘You make me want to be a better person.’ I think that’s part of what marriage brings to society, which is that people try to be a better person for the person they are married to and then that filters out to society, although on a very secular level. The person that shows you love allows you to show love to the world,” Lovett says.
She and her husband, Deacon Richard Lovett, have been married for almost 50 years and have been involved in marriage preparation programs for 20 years.
“We tell the couples that when they get married in the Church they actually become a sacrament, an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace,” she explains. “Couples often think it’s the ring that is the outward sign and I say, ‘No you are the outward sign, you become that outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. You are the person that is meant to go out and give grace to the world. Grace the world with your presence and with your relationship. And then the children are an outward growth of that love as well.’ When couples go into the marriage vow with that concept in mind, then that can only help society because they are trying to be better people, they’re trying to raise their children to be better people and to make an impact for good.”
Claire Frazier-Yzaguirre, a licensed marriage and family therapist helping married couples and families for over 30 years, designed a program on thriving marriages with her husband, Dr. John Yzaguirre. They have also written a book called “Thriving Marriages: An Inspirational and Practical Guide to Lasting Happiness.”
“From the work that we have done for many years came a model of unity that we are teaching couples because they are all coming in struggling with their marital unity. So we help them grow their marital unity depending on what the issues are,” Frazier-Yzaguirre says. She explains that a healthy marriage should consist of three dimensions.
“One is empathy which means learning how to love the other and bring joy to their life,” she says. “The second skill set that’s crucial is good self care, which is knowing how to manage our stress and give ourselves as a gift of the healthy self. The third essential component is mutuality, which is all the interactive skills of communication, conflict resolution and forgiveness. When we have mutual love through our relationships, we bear God’s image the best. So a healthy thriving marriage, with these dynamics, is showing the world, our immediate culture, our immediate extended family, our immediate city as well as the larger society how to live the best life that God wants us to live in marriage.”
Frazier-Yzaguirre also emphasized that it is important to understand what being married involves.
“Married is when we have mutual love versus getting married. People get married for all kinds of reasons, either to have companionship or they’re afraid of being lonely. If we don’t continue to grow so that we are looking at marriage as the vocation of unity and that we strive for mutual love, then we haven’t really gotten fully married. So by addressing the three dimensions of empathy, self care and mutuality of our relationship, we are able to get to mutual love.”
Michael Donaldson, diocesan director for the Office of Pastoral Care for Families in All Stages, believes that children learn important virtues that benefit society when they are raised by parents in a healthy marriage.
“The Church teaches that the family is the basic cell of society,” he says. “This recognizes the importance of a healthy marriage. Parents are the primary teachers for children. It’s in the family that children learn how to live in community and parents aid in demonstrating the importance of service and sacrifice. They witness perseverance, courage, commitment and unconditional love. Virtues are taught through the example of the married couple. They demonstrate the love of Christ for the Church.”