Celebrate marriage, psychologist couple says

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Jill and Nate Verschaetse

Nate and Jill Verschaetse, a psychotherapist and a licensed clinical psychologist, respectively, have engaged in clinical work including therapy with adults, children, couples and families. Additionally, they also provide psychological assessments for those seeking entrance to religious life and seminary.

Both have been involved with integrative healing ministries and are passionate about the integration of faith and psychotherapy.

The Verschaetses, who will present on “The Journey of Marriage — Always a New Gift,” at the annual Celebrating Marriage luncheon Sept. 29, shared their reflections on the sacrament of Marriage with The Catholic Sun.

Celebrating Marriage

10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 29

Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix

Couples celebrating their 25th, 40th and 50th or higher anniversaries will receive a special blessing from Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares.

Cost: $55 per couple and $35 for individuals.

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Sun: What are the gifts that marriage brings to a person?

Jill: First and foremost, it is a pathway to heaven. God invites you to seek Him in the other person, and it orients you to the Lord. Your spouse becomes a tangible Christ — providing a way for you to know Christ the Bridegroom more intimately.

Nate: One of the special gifts of marriage is the giving and receiving that happens. In original sin, in the fall, we have a tendency toward isolation — a separation from God and others and even ourselves. There is wisdom in the way the Church speaks of marriage as corrective and healing. In marriage, we learn about true communion with another. This even reveals parts of us to ourselves. We learn to give and receive in a deeper way — even in the places where it is difficult to do so.

Sun: How would you share the gifts of marriage with someone on the street who does not understand the value of marriage?

Jill: One of the most powerful ways of sharing about the gifts of marriage is the lived example. One of the prayers that Nate and I pray daily is a prayer to be a healing presence to those we meet. For couples, we hope we are a reflection of the Holy Family and that they might perceive in us the gifts of marriage even if we are unaware of Christ’s action in us. Through the power of this encounter through Christ’s presence in our own relationship we hope they see and come to desire for themselves the joys of marriage.

Nate: A lot of people have wounds related to experiences of unhealthy marriages in their family or that they have seen in others. They are hurt, but at the same time, if we dig into the human heart we will discover we are made for commitment. The covenant provides a strong foundation that allows the marriage to flourish.

Sun: In your experience studying and practicing psychology from a Catholic perspective, what are the biggest challenges facing marriage today?

Jill: One of the biggest challenges is that we don’t have a culture that supports marriage. Pornography, infidelity, lack of commitment — these things are commonplace. Marriages aren’t given the food they need to thrive. Rather, they are bombarded by evil that would lead them astray, instead of building them up and leading them to the joy of committed love.

Nate: One of the biggest challenges is that there is not the vision of marriage as permanent. There is a general sense that if this does not work out, we are going to go our own way. But that way of thinking of marriage makes it tough when we are encountering challenges with couples. The most fruitful work happens when the commitment is in place. That is difficult for couples to believe when they are struggling. But in the sacrament of Marriage, God also promises us that He will be with us. We always hold out hope for them.

Sun: What do you hope those who attend the 2018 Celebrating Marriage event come away with from your talk?

Jill: I hope that the people who attend come away with a sense of how much God has been with them through their journey of marriage and how much He wants to remain with them. Marriage is the natural path for us, but we are given supernatural graces through the sacrament. I hope the couples experience a renewal of these graces through this event and are reminded of His desire to abide with them.

Nate: We came up with the title “The Journey of Marriage — Always a new Gift” because we want people to experience that there are always new gifts to be discovered in the other person and that there is constantly new growth as a couple. Marriage is exciting and adventurous and there are always new corners to turn. These kinds of events can renew our sense of adventure.