Read Time: 3 minutes

When a Catholic and a non-Catholic marry one another, obvious differences in doctrine, worship, or personal piety inevitably lead to tension. So how can an ecumenical marriage thrive?

You were drawn to this person in particular, not their religion in general.

A few years ago, Annie and Stephen met while dancing like fools at a friend’s wedding. As time went on they bonded as fools for Christ, she a Catholic and he a Protestant. Despite denominational differences, they both cared about healing the world, finding joy in every day, and earnestly doing the will of God. Last year they were married, and sharing their life in marriage has only intensified their common commitments.

We aren’t always attracted to people in our churches. Religious compatibility and marital compatibility are two different things. Even spouses of the same religion enter into a marriage because this particular person helps the other become holy.

No matter how much religion unites us, we must also remember that every person’s prayer life is radically unique. Each of us has a mysterious relationship with God that no one else can ever enter into. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect, and greet each other.”

Your denomination is an adjective, not a noun.

Fundamentally, we are all Christians. “Catholic”, “Protestant,” “Orthodox,” or any other denominational names just specify what kind of Christian we are. Often we assume we have different faiths rather than different expressions of the same faith. But long before spouses had any kind of romantic commitment, they were already committed to one another through a common baptism.

Within a healthy marriage the man and woman both make up what the other lacks: the same goes for an ecumenical marriage. The spontaneity of Stephen’s Protestant background enlivens Annie’s contemplative Catholic piety, just as much as Stephen finds grounded-ness in the order and symbolism of Annie’s Mass. Each tradition has something to give to the other.

Getting involved in each other’s communities especially helps unite spouses if one cannot participate fully in the other’s liturgy. Helping with coffee hour, weekday Bible studies, or volunteer events help everyone set aside denominational differences in order to grow together as Christians.

Resist the desire to change the other person.

ecumenical marriages

Annie and Stephan, photo courtesy of Caedy Convis Photography

Stephen said that whenever the phrase “I wish you would just…” comes into his head, he kills it immediately. Often ecumenical spouses entertain fantasies that this spouse will enter RCIA and receive communion with the rest of the family, or that this spouse will embrace the other’s style of worship. But do we really want the other person to grow, or do we just want them converted to our way of doing things?

You can’t build a relationship with someone you’re trying to fix. Don’t enter an ecumenical marriage with a chip on your shoulder or a passion for apologetics. Remember, marriage exists for your salvation and healing—you’re the one who needs to change.

Ecumenical marriage thrives for the same reasons any marriage thrives.

We aren’t supposed to run from difficulties, but nor should we shrug and belittle them. “It pains us to talk about this, because these are real struggles for us,” Stephen said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone,” said Annie, “unless it’s the will of God.” No matter the religion, all spouses need to hear the other person out, set aside their preoccupations or anxieties, and be sure that, as Annie says, “this is what God wants for us.”

Article contributed by Thomas Whitman. Photography by Caedy Convis Photography.

Read Time: 2 minutes

When you take the ultimate commitment plunge – getting engaged — there are an increasing number of deep waterways you may have to navigate together. To name a few, there’s adjusting to your new relationship status, making decisions together, planning the wedding, and navigating your future in-laws. While every couple wants to enjoy this special time, you may need a few tips to keep your head above water and achieve engagement happiness:

Practical Tips for Engagement Happiness


1. This too shall pass

  • Your fiancé’s/fiancée’s bad mood.
  • The fact that someone messed up the booking for the wedding venue.
  • Bridesmaid drama.
  • The pressure to find the perfect dress.
  • The never-ending wedding costs.

These are all temporary stressors and it’s important to remember that you will come out on the other side.

Try not to lose perspective as things get stressful during the wedding planning.

Make sure you come back to the most important thing: you have each other and that’s all you ever really wanted.

2. Don’t go to bed angry

Not just applicable during the engagement stage, for many, this is solid marital and life advice.

Going to bed refusing to speak to each other other, and retreating in anger is not going to solve anything.

It’s okay to disagree or not come to a happily ever after ending, but you can’t let your anger fester when you both go to sleep for the night. Agree to disagree or call a temporary truce until you can revisit the issue in the light of day.

3. Have alone time

Set boundaries.

Don’t allow yourselves to get too caught up in the early love stages of wanting to always be together, always be in the same room, or always talking to each other on the phone.

It is important for you both to continue to foster your own sense of self, away from the relationship, as well as maintain other friendships outside of each other. Together, these personal activities allow you to both show up better as a person and as a partner.

4. Be open to change

It might be as simple as a change in the font on the wedding invitations, to something as big as making adjustments to your daily routines to accommodate each other and your families.

Whatever the case is, the need to be open to change is a common theme as you embark on a new relationship, a new lifestyle, and something as big as planning a wedding.

Start with small steps by simply agreeing to be open to listening to new ideas.

Gradually work up to adopting, offering and embracing change.

Remember that you are changing to become better people together than you were when you were apart.

Ultimately, marriage is designed to help you become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously helping someone else do the same. Don’t spoil this special time with silly fights over flowers and cake flavors. Instead, keep perspective of what’s important to enjoy your days as you prepare to spend the rest of your lives together.

Read Time: 3 minutes

With 21% of Americans getting married abroad in 2015, the destination wedding is becoming more attractive.

This is in the face of the increasing cost of domestic weddings. Apart from the financial benefits, couples may also envisage the beautiful wedding photos, perfect weather and gorgeous surroundings of the destination wedding.

But, there are also sacrifices to be considered if choosing to tie the knot abroad.


First thing’s first – the legitimacy of the marriage may be questioned once back home.

Marriage abroad, even in a Catholic church, is likely to be more complicated than getting married in your local church.

Couples would be well advised to consult their state attorney-general to explore their options. This should happen before the planning process has gone too far. When selecting a church to get married in, it would be wise to check if they have experience in marrying citizens from abroad.

The soon-to-be happy couple should also check the travel documentation required by their preferred country and any documentation or pre-marriage checks that may be insisted upon. Although the church may be able to offer some advice on this, it is always wise to follow up with the local authorities.

On top of the legalities, a bride needs to consider how much involvement she is willing to give up. If organizing a local wedding, the suppliers and church can all be within easy reach during the planning process — not so with the wedding abroad.


When most couples choose how to theme a wedding, the question of location is usually tied firmly into this.

Barn-style receptions tend towards natural themes with use of wood and twine in their decorations.

Coastal receptions may have a nautical theme featuring driftwood and seashells.

The church will usually allow for some of the theme to be incorporated in the form of color choices for floral arrangements.

Many brides spend hundreds of hours putting together a theme for their wedding appropriate to the location and enjoy doing so. However, this may not be so easy when getting married abroad.

For the crafty bride, transporting beautiful but fragile hand-made decorations and wedding stationery for the reception is not practical. If they choose to get married abroad, they may have to choose to be “hands off” in this area and order decorations and table stationery from a supplier abroad.

Likewise, the hairdresser, catering team and entertainment may not fall into step with the precise and uniquely themed wedding. It will not be as easy to involve them all fully in the planning process.


The most difficult consideration for many couples choosing to marry abroad is their guests.

Some couples take the opportunity to marry abroad to avoid family politics and only invite a select close few.

But if there is a larger guest list, it is inevitable that some will not be able to attend.

Attending a wedding abroad is more time consuming, incurs a larger travel spend and no matter how close to the couple, some guests may find these factors prohibitive.

The other consideration is — who will carry out the service? Some would not even consider getting married abroad as they have had visions of themselves getting married in their family church with a familiar face officiating. If abroad, they are unlikely to have met the priest carrying out the service.

Once contact is made with the officiating church, couples have found the priest usually very accommodating. For some who have grown up in the same local church community, however, the thought of not having their family priest officiate can become a real barrier to marrying abroad.

Choosing to get married abroad is a huge decision with many consideration. It may or may not be the right choice for the right couple.

If they are willing to accept an unfamiliar priest, be relaxed about theming and contact, and can prepare themselves to encounter a few surprises on the day, then the decision might pay off.

For the couple who have a larger guest list, however, or have a close relationship with their local priest it may be more prudent to choose a home wedding. This can help avoid the emotional heartache of missing friends and family on their big day.

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor

Read Time: 2 minutes

Weddings are such wonderful times, especially for the bride and groom, who are celebrating their decision to become one. But, planning a wedding is not always fun, and there is quite a bit of bureaucracy behind preparing for such a major event. Whether your venue is not large or your budget isn’t either, you probably have to have a guest list that is smaller than the number of people you could potentially invite. Not inviting someone to your wedding always has the potential to illicit hurt feelings and there’s no worse way to start off a marriage than to have someone upset with you. Here’s how to limit your wedding guest list without hurting people’s feelings.

Only invite those closest to you

When you think about your wedding day, who do you picture being there? While social media gives us the illusion that we are connected to people we haven’t seen in 10 years, those people may not be ones that you feel you want to attend your special day. Take an inventory of your closest friends and family and only invite those you’ve been in direct contact with recently. If you haven’t spoken to them in the past five years, their feelings won’t be hurt when they aren’t included in your wedding celebrations.

Segment your guest list

Make a list of everyone that you can possibly invite and then segment the list into categories A and B. The A list are people who absolutely must attend your wedding and the B list are those who you will invite if there is extra room.

Don’t allow people to bring dates

Let your single friends know that the invitation only extends to them. For your friends and family members who are dating or in a serious relationship, if you want to include the significant other, put their name directly on the invitation. That way, there is no confusion as to if a plus one is allowed – if your name is on the invitation you’re invited – if it isn’t, you aren’t. You can also make a small disclaimer on the invitation that the wedding is limited to invited guests only, which prevents you from getting that dreaded call where they’ll ask or plead for you to allow them to bring their “friend” of the moment. Your response card can also clearly suggest that only the people on the invitation are invited with “their name” and “declines” or “accepts”.

Limit children

While some people enjoy bringing their little ones along to a celebration, others may be happy to have a night out on their own. By limiting the children who come to your wedding, you’ll be able to easily cut your guest list and not hurt the feelings of those who aren’t invited.

Don’t invite people from work

Sure, you spend countless hours with them day after day, but unless you plan to invite your entire office, don’t include anyone from work who isn’t also a friend in the off-hours. Even then, ask that friend to keep the fact that they attended your wedding low-key, so their bragging about how fun it is doesn’t spoil everyone else’s day.

In short…

It’s okay to limit your wedding guest list. It’s your special day and it will be over faster than you think. The less headaches you have, you will be able to look back with admiration, not animosity.

Read Time: 3 minutes

The newlywed period is an exciting time. Not only are you still coming down from the buzz of your wedding and all its associated events, you and your partner are also getting to know each other as husband and wife. While this time can be blissful, it can also be a time of adjustment, as you realize that living with someone else and sharing your life with them consists of some give and take. Here are six ways to help with adjusting expectations and working toward a fulfilling marriage.

Adjusting Expectations — Simply Put


1. Accommodate your spouse’s habits and living style

You’ve had multiple conversations with your spouse about what’s important to each of you. Now that you are living together, it is up to you to make accommodations based on how your spouse lives. Maybe they are a neat freak and like everything in its place – this means you need to figure out how to become more organized and do your part to tidy up. Maybe they need quiet in the morning until they’ve had their coffee – this means that you need to leave important conversations for after dinner.

2. Put your finances together

Money is the #1 topic that couples fight about and for good reason. There is never a relationship where couples make exactly the same money or spend in the same ways. With your expectations already set, now is the time to pool your finances together, open up joint accounts and actively each take part in paying the bills.

3. Decide on who does what

If money is the first topic couples argue about, housework and care of the children comes a close second. Rather than hope and wait for your partner to pick up their socks or do the dishes, have a conversation early in the marriage to decide on who will do what jobs around your home and within your marriage. Studies show that rather than making it a 50/50 split, partners should do the jobs they are best at.

4. Find ways to communicate openly and easily

After having all of these important conversations, it is best if you can figure out a way to keep the conversations open. Like anything, things will change and new things will pop up and as a couple, you need to have a way that you can communicate without fear of judgement or anger. Decide how this will happen in the first months of your marriage.

5. Learn to be selfless

One of the biggest adjustments a person who is newly married will have to make is to be less selfish and more selfless. As a single person, it was easy to think about what you want and only that, but as a partner in a life-long relationship, you need to consider the needs and wants of your partner daily. Rather than make decisions based on your own desires, always think about what they would want first.

6. Realize you are on the same team

Many arguments in a marriage happen because couples have a me vs. you mentality. As a married couple, you are on the same team and have the same goal: to have a fulfilling marriage. Once you realize you are on the same team, only then will you find it easier to get along with your partner.

In short…

Adjusting expectations is not necessarily hard work, but it is work. You and your significant other need to help each other. You both desire to have a healthy marriage — if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be getting married! Work together for a long and beautiful life together.

Read Time: 3 minutes

Planning your wedding is such a joyous time, but it can be a stressful one. Especially when you truly just want everything to be perfect. Not only will you be thinking about all of your guests (what they will do, what they will eat and how they will be entertained), you need to think about yourself and your spouse-to-be and how to make the day extra-special. The great thing about getting married in the 2000s is the great amount of technology out there that can make doing your wedding planning so much easier.

Here are 5 of the best wedding planning apps to help you plan your day and make it special.

5 Best Wedding Planning Apps

1. WeddingHappy

This app is for those brides who want to keep tasks, payments and vendors in one spot using their iPhone or iPad. What’s really great about this app is that you can stay connected with your partner, so he knows what’s going on at all times. The app will let you know how many tasks you have to do and how many were completed and even count down the days until your wedding. It truly helps you get down the aisle.

wedding planning tasks

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2. Newlywish

A cool part about having a wedding and getting married is that you do get gifts! While you aren’t in it for the gifts, you do want to take part in tailoring these gifts to what you’ll need as a newlywed couple. Enter in Newlywish, the online wedding registry that lets you access many brands, so you don’t have to choose from just one store. Guests can easily buy and get the gifts shipped online and it is very simple for guests to purchase something as a group.


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3. Wedding Wire

If you don’t know where to start, you’ll start here. Wedding Wire lets you get inspiration from other brides, read reviews on vendors and takes the stress out of planning. You can build your seating chart, devise your guest list, manage your budget and so much more. There is a large community on Wedding Wire who can help you with the difficult questions in wedding planning.

Wedding Wire

See More: Wedding Wire

4. Wedding LookBook by the Knot

When you are planning a wedding, you want expert advice and The Knot knows weddings. This app can help you find the right dress, the right ring, and basically lets you plan your dream wedding easily and its completely free.

Wedding LookBook by the Knot

Open in App Store: Wedding LookBook by the Knot

5. Appy Couple

Everything in one place is how to look at this app, which has a cool design and allows you to share your plans, photos and other thoughts with your guests, before and after the wedding. You can send save the dates, emails and manage your guest list from the app. You can even send a virtual toast! Up to the minute alerts help you stay in touch with everything you need to for your wedding.

Appy Couple

See More: Appy Couple

Read Time: 2 minutes

Meeting Catholic Church Requirements

Marriage prep should always be up-to-date with the changing of times.

Young couples today desire accessible, convenient, uplifting, and modern ways of doing things. When planning to marry in the Catholic Church, demands are no different.

That’s why The Marriage Group (in collaboration with the Family Ministries Office at the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit) pioneered this groundbreaking Catholic Marriage Prep Course.

This unique program meets the needs of modern lifestyles.

It fulfills the requirements the Catholic Church places on an approved Pre-Cana program.

It also facilitates the discussions that need to take place — before entering into the next phase of the relationship between the couple and God.

Marriage Prep — Certified And Accepted

We realize couples want an authentic and recognized course.

That’s why Living Our Faith in Love covers the required discussions, as mandated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Following successful completion of the discussions, couples are issued an official certificate. It is personalized with names and date of completion of the program.

This certificate is downloadable and printable, and serves as an official document. This is to be recognized by the officiating priest or deacon of the ceremony to keep with other related marriage documents.

Creating A Special Course

Times have changed.

Traditional meetings or weekend gatherings aren’t always a convenient way for couples to take the course.

Young couples who are faced with demands on their time – be it personal or professional – are less inclined to participate.

That’s why this online program is ideal.

So how does this special marriage prep course work?

  • Not bound by our timelines or demands.
    • Running late at work? Have classes or errands to run? Not to worry. We’re not waiting (and neither are other couples) for folks to arrive at a prescribed time, or a specific location.
    • Whether it’s finished in one day, a weekend, or over the period of few months, it doesn’t matter.What matters is that couples complete each element of the course successfully at a comfortable pace, and as time allows.
  • It’s online. How convenient is that?
    • No need for couples to displace themselves so bad winter weather, torrential downpours, or transportation issues are never a concern.
    • Participants get to sit in the comfort of their own home – or wherever there is access to an Internet connection.
  • Our program is on-demand.
    • Participants log in at their discretion. The course is always accessible.
    • Couples are not committed to face-to-face meetings, or one-on-one mentoring Although viable options, they are not always possible for everyone.
  • Location is not an issue.
    • Couples who are separated by distance can still connect (via Skype, for instance) to complete the course.
    • This course is accessible from anywhere. Whether in Michigan, somewhere else in the US, or even abroad, it’s available.

You can find similar course providers, but as the originator and developer of this most unique and modernized program, The Marriage Group’s materials and presenter insights are always novel and fresh – not rehashed.

So when couples are ready start a Catholic marriage conversation, they can come out ahead with Living Our Faith in Love’s comprehensive course.

Read Time: 2 minutes

Congratulations! You just got engaged and you are excited to begin planning your wedding! You’ve talked with your priest or deacon and they told you that you need to take a marriage prep, or Pre-Cana class, to be married in the parish. But what exactly is Pre-Cana?

Simply put, Pre-Cana is a marriage preparation course, class, or consultation for couples who will be married in a Catholic church.

Cana is the name of the town where Jesus performed his first miracle — the miracle of turning water into wine; see John 2:1-11.

While most dioceses and parishes still call it Pre-Cana, there are a growing number that are beginning to refer to it as the more modern term, “marriage prep.”
Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

So what are these classes actually like?

There are a few different ways a parish may have you take your Pre-Cana including one or more of:

  • A course taken during a single day, usually on the weekend
  • Meetings with your priest or deacon over the span of a few weeks
  • Meetings with a sponsor couple, who is a married couple that acts as mentors to engaged couples
  • An Engaged Encounter weekend retreat with other engaged couples
  • A Pre-Marital Inventory such as FOCCUS, Prepare/Enrich, or Catholic Couple Checkup
  • An online version of the in person classes, usually on-demand and self led

While the exact format for these courses varies from parish to parish, the concept and content is consistent, with the most common topics discussed being: Spiritually and Faith, Conflict Resolution, Careers, Finances, Intimacy and Cohabitation, Children and Parenting, Commitment, and Family of Origin.

What’s the point?

Most couples will already have had these conversations before even getting engaged, so what’s the point of the Pre-Cana then? The purpose of marriage preparation is not to be another hoop to jump through, but it is meant to facilitate discussions about important topics that you will be facing as a married couple.

Look at your marriage prep process as an opportunity to look forward toward your new life together, make sure you are on the same page as a couple, and ready to face this exciting journey as one.

Interested in Online Pre-Cana?

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana