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ANNUAL PRE-MARRIAGE SEMINAR EXPLORES "MARRIAGE AS A PATH TO HOLINESS"
Chicago, IL - The 13th Annual Pre-Nuptial Seminar was held on Saturday, April 10th, 2010 at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois. The seminar is highly suggested for all couples who are scheduled to be married at the Cathedral or by the Cathedral clergy in other churches. Approximately twenty couples were in attendance.The program began with registration overseen by Deacon Damjan S. Bozic and an orientation conducted by Fr. Darko Spasojevic that covered all practical aspects as well as a review of qualifications for marriage in our Cathedral.
The guest speaker, Dr. Helen Theodoropoulos, gave a very impressive presentation entitled, "Marriage as a Path to Salvation," in which she emphasized that marriage is a formative experience, and that we must learn to let go of ourselves in order to be able to share with others.
Dr. Theodoropoulos said: “Marriage is the ‘sacrament of love.’ It is the reflection, image, sign, and revelation of God's love. At the core of the creation of man and woman is the union in love: the two are essentially one. Adam, upon seeing Eve, declares, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’ We hear: ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:23-4). This is marriage: to cleave, to be eternally knit to each other: nothing closer, one flesh, one shared life, communion; a new, shared identity, but each is still person.”
She continued: “however, we are not naïve: we see the statistics that many marriages fail, we know that many people remain married but are miserably unhappy and torment each other, and we know that it is not necessarily our salvation. But it can be, it should be, it is meant to be.”
According to Dr. Theodoropoulos, married couples should beware of the following marriage strategies that have been shown not to work:
* Don't argue to win, rather, try to find a solution both can live with;
* Don't lie;
* Don't use abusive language (swear words, derogatory language-off limits);
* Don't keep score;
* Don't blame;
* Don't use the children;
* Don't bring up family or allow family to divide you;
* Don't threaten to withhold sex or money;
* Men: Don't always problem-solve, just listen; and
* Women: Don't pursue your partner- give him time.
* Instead, couples should focus on the following strategies that do work:
* Finding the elusive balance- a way that recognizes both;
* State your position in "I" terms- not "you always," and do not be accusatory;
* Think before you speak- count to ten and think again;
* Find the best way to say it;
* Listen without interrupting;
* Accept your own fault/part in the problem- this is crucial; we all carry baggage, and our faults are due both to our own particular natures and weaknesses and to others who have shaped and influenced us. We can grow- gain insight into ourselves- through this (albeit painful) process of disagreement, but only if we see our own part in it;
* Compliment your partner and be kind;
* Offer your undivided attention- no multi-tasking;
* Make time;
* Accept your differences- differences of temperament, different ways of doing things-no one way is right, but rather more than one way can be OK (if not perfect);
* Honor each other- regard with respect what is important to your spouse;
* Turn to Christ in prayer.
Following Dr. Theodoropoulos’ presentation, Cathedral choir president Jelena Stojakovic gave a brief presentation on the choir’s involvement and ability to enhance the beauty of the service, as well as the procedures to have the choir present.
After lunch, a group picture was taken in front of the Cathedral with clergy, and the marriage seminar concluded with a presentation given by Fr. Vasilije Vranic which simulated a walk-through the wedding service in the church, and explanation of the meaning of the Orthodox wedding services according to Serbian tradition including the exchange of rings, Crowning, common cup, and procession.