This past Saturday I had the blessing of listening to one of my early Catholic role models speak to a small group of us at St. Mary Catholic Church.
Bishop William Skylstad, who led the Spokane Diocese from 1990-2010 while also serving as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, devoted his morning to speaking to our small group about marriage.
As some of you know, Sidney and I provide Pre-Cana/marriage prep counseling to engaged couples. We received this incredible opportunity from Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church. Although we should be the ones thanking Fr. Jeff for this blessing, he wanted to thank all sponsor couples in our parish with this exclusive audience with Bishop Skylstad.
During our three-hour visit with the 89-year-old Bishop Emeritus, he touched on many marital points and freely distributed advice while focusing on three themes: “The Call,” sacrament, and communication. Although I could recap the intricacies of this trio of topics, I just wanted to touch on three of the finer points he made…
– Help make your spouse who they are made to be. We can become so focused on trying to change our wife/husband according to our own ideal on how we think they should be. Instead, it should be our mission and duty to help our spouse realize their true, authentic self that was molded by God.
– Communication is key in marriage but realize what it is comprised of. Bishop Skylstad said that 60% of marital communication is conveyed nonverbally, 20% is through tone of voice, and the remainder is the actual content. I can say unequivocally that Bishop is right. Sid and I can say whatever we want to each other but if it is expressed in a way that doesn’t match our nonverbal cues than it will fall on deaf ears.
– We don’t love/preach from perfection, we love/preach from redemption. Bishop Skylstad said numerous times during Saturday morning that no marriage is perfect. We can’t become discouraged when we encounter obstacles in our marriages but we must learn from them and grow from them.
Thank you, Bishop Skylstad, for your precious time. What an honor it was to be mere feet from the man I usually saw on the news or from afar in packed churches. Don’t Blink.