Husband and wife team look to mentor younger couples
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
Photo caption: Phil and Mary Wrubleski are the Diocese of Saskatoon's Marriage Task Force chairs.
Newly married couples are having marriage troubles earlier and earlier in their relationship, say Phil and Mary Wrubleski, and they think they have a plan to help turn things around.
The Wrubleskis are chairs of the Diocese of Saskatoon’s Marriage Task Force, an office set up 15 years ago to affirm, celebrate and enrich marriage.
One of the ideas they’re looking at is offering young couples marriage mentoring from experienced married couples.
"We need something more between marriage preparation and Retrouvaille (for marriages in crisis),” said Mary Wrubleski
In marriage mentoring, a younger couple is invited to meet monthly with a more-established mentoring couple in the parish who are trained to engage in helpful conversations about marriage, life and children.
The diocesan task force has been connecting with Family Life Canada to look at the training required to prepare mentor couples for the role, said Phil. The strength of marriage mentoring is it’s low-key, relational, grounded in real-life experience, and based on the idea that "most marriages don't need an overhaul, just regular tune-ups."
The Wrubleskis are eager to bring practical marriage enrichment opportunities to couples in the diocese. Finding new ways to strengthen marriages in an era when programs such as Marriage Encounter have ebbed is a priority, says Phil.
Couples who have weathered difficulties have a lot to offer younger couples, said Mary. "Phil and I would not still be together had it not been for the crises we went through together. You develop tools; your marriage gets stronger."
Sharing insights with younger couples in a social setting can plant seeds and provide critical support that helps a marriage grow rather than breaking up, they say.
In recent years the diocesan Marriage Task Force has led a number of initiatives such as marriage enrichment evenings, re-examining marriage preparation materials, and leading local lineamenta discussions on marriage and family life in response to 2014’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family.
The Marriage Task Force is also partnering with evangelical Christian churches on an upcoming weekend of marriage sessions. It’s also developing a study guide on Amoris laetitia (the Joy of Love), Pope Francis' post-synod apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life; and it’s helping to plan a provincial Catholic conference on Amoris laetitia to be held in Saskatoon next spring, a joint effort with all the dioceses and eparchies in Saskatchewan.
Amoris laetitia is beautifully written, said the Wrubleskis, easy to read and filled with insights that deserve to be widely known and discussed.
"It is a pastoral document," said Phil. "It is timely and very brave." It also doesn't shy away from the real challenges facing families, said the couple, and it’s filled with hope for healing and strengthening ordinary family life, fitting in with Pope Francis' image of the church as a field hospital that tends to wounds in the world.
"We need to remember how many people we meet and talk to have a situation that is real, that is difficult. They need to be listened to and loved," says Mary.