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Getting your spouse to heaven

February 7, 2024

By Suzanne Pietropaoli
Staff Writer

“Your job is to get each other into heaven,” observes Bill Todd.

This may not be the job description most couples bring into marriage, but it speaks to the heart of the married vocation. For Bill and Margie Todd, this wisdom is so important that they recently joined the Canton Pre-Cana team in order to share it with couples preparing for marriage.

The Todds’ own journey to marriage began at Camp Guggenheim, Bill explains. “We met in the late ‘90s but were friends for 10 years before we started dating. We got married on July 18, 2008, at St. Mary’s Church in Potsdam.”

Before that, of course, there was marriage preparation.

“We saw the value of going through the Pre-Cana process ourselves,” Bill said. “We were lucky enough to do this with St, Mary’s pastor at the time, Father Garry Giroux, and also sit down and talk further through it with Father Martin Cline and Father Bryan Stitt, whom I had worked with at Guggenheim. It was both challenging and affirming of the steps we were taking towards married life. We had done Pre-Cana at church with four other couples and were surprised when one couple didn’t make it through. It showed me that this isn’t just a formality, but a tool to discern whether this is truly where God is calling a couple.”

Margie, too, recognizes the importance of marriage preparation.

“We believe that that in a society that does not value marriage, it is especially important to provide couples just starting out with a strong knowledge of what our faith teaches about marriage,” she said. “For us, having a sacramental marriage has made so much difference. The graces received from that sacrament along with the fact that the Church sees marriage as indissoluble, allowed us to work through the problems in the early years of our marriage without any fear that we would lose one another. In recent years, the skills and trust we developed then have helped us through the harder things that have come up, like raising children, miscarriage and health issues.”

Knowing that marriage is a life-long commitment shapes a couple’s determination to make things work.

“Divorce has become such an acceptable option in our society,” Margie notes. “We live in a world where ‘my’ wants and needs are the most important – and there’s no place for that in marriage! At first it’s fun and exciting to be a ‘we,’ but once we get back to everyday life and our flawed selves, that fades.”

“And then you add in that we’ve gotten away from what a family is,” observes Bill. “People don’t eat dinner together anymore. They’ve stopped connecting, and we’ve started to lose the wonderful traditions of our Catholic faith, and marriage is one of them. Marriage is a sacred thing, to be treasured and not thrown away. It is important, and it’s not about you.”

“The Catholic Church teaches that the purpose of marriage is openness to life, which is difficult to embrace in our society,” added Margie. “You need to be open with one another, with all your imperfections, as well as to any children God may or may not send you. Knowing that His will is better allows us to trust, even with the challenges that come into our lives.”

Fifteen years of marriage have brought the couple renewed appreciation for the wisdom of Church teaching on marriage.

“We have been blessed to have excellent examples of Catholic marriages among family and friends,” says Margie. “One of the most important things we learned from them was that by putting God at the center of our family, things became much simpler. Once we learned to trust in God’s plan for us, we were able to trust each other more.

“We needed to make the choice together to go to Mass each week, to make time to go to confession regularly, and to pray together. Making that a priority early in our marriage made it so much easier once we had children.”

Bill, too, emphasizes the importance of faith in their relationship.

“Try to make time to pray together often – if you can’t do the whole rosary, just say a few Hail Marys,” he said. “Go to confession together. And when everything seems to fall apart, still thank God. There are graces given to you in your marriage whether you realize it or not.”

These graces enrich every dimension of married life. Bill and Margie are quick to affirm the power of small things to make a big difference in their relationship.

“The little thoughtful things you do for one another make a huge difference in a marriage,” Margie said. “For example, Bill sets up the coffee maker every night so I have coffee first thing in the morning, He also apologizes more readily than anyone I know.”

“It’s okay to do something nice just because you love your spouse,” Bill added. “My wife pays attention to the little things – things like making sure we have dinner together every night that we can, and making holy days special so we can pass a love of the faith on to our children.”

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