Third part of Marriage for Life program teaches family dynamics, goals

AIKEN — Praise and gratitude came from the couples who completed the last of the three sessions of “Marriage for Life: A Sincere Gift of Self Workshop,” offered at St. Mary Help of Christians.

John Howard from Rock Hill found the workshop to be a good investment for him and his fiancée.

“Often couples spend more time planning for the wedding day than they do planning for the marriage,” he said. Howard was glad to be better prepared for the future.

“We invite all engaged couples and married couples in the diocese to consider this program offered at our parish,” said Father James LeBlanc, pastor. He is also the director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Charleston.

Family dynamics and family goals were the main topics for the third gathering, and couples were shown the way to maintain a loving relationship through good communication, attentiveness, and learning how to avoid or protect oneself from things that are harmful to that relationship.

Pam Nestor, one of the presenters, explained how attentiveness is essential in a marriage and how each spouse should express profound respect for the equal dignity of the other.

“Attentiveness involves looking to the one you love with care and concern,” Pam said.

Her husband and co-presenter, Bob, addressed the need to protect marital friendship from others who may threaten marital intimacy.

“Be watchful in situations at work that might invite any level of intimacy with persons at work,” he said.

After listing some of the work situations that could be problematic, he said, “It is important to choose and plan how to protect your marriage from temptation and even perception of infidelity in your marriage.”

The session also provided ways to deal with anger in the relationship, its proper expression, resolution and the important role of forgiveness.

The presenters brought the goal of the family to light by sharing the church’s definition of family. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the family is “a man and a woman united in marriage together with their children. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority which has an obligation to recognize it.”

Bob added that the human family reflects the love within the Holy Trinity. The Trinity perfectly illustrates what it means to be a communion of persons. He said that each person in the family is an image of God. The husband and wife, who should always reflect God, have complementary roles that nurture all relationships within the family.

Donna Pierce, another presenter, gave a summary of the religious beliefs and practices helpful in keeping marriages healthy, such as a good prayer life. For Catholics, the sacraments are also rich sources of God’s blessings and a source of strength during times of trouble.

The last section of the day was reserved for goal setting. The Nestors, who have been married for 36 years, had much wisdom to share on the topic.

“The ultimate goal of Bob’s and my marriage was to gain eternal life as individuals, as a couple and for each child God might give us,” Pam said. She explained that all the intermediate goals of a couple should point toward that ultimate goal.

Bob told the couples that God is present in their lives, even through the challenges.

“God gives us just enough faith to see our next step on the path he has set out for our lives,” he concluded.

The workshop at St. Mary Help of Christians is offered three times a year.

For information call Deacon Bob and Donna Pierce at (803) 642-9434 or e-mail them at