Posted December 28, 2016 - by Emily Woodham
When Ray and Ann decided to marry, they felt pressure from people, even of their own generation, to not go through with it. “We aren’t a marriage-oriented society anymore,” Ray said. He knew people who didn’t marry because financially it didn’t make sense, or they found the hassle of paperwork to be too much of a burden. Ray and Ann, however, loved the Church and believed in the Sacrament of Marriage. Despite the forces that railed against them, they joyfully tied the knot.
We needed someone
Ann explained, "We always will grieve for our spouses. When you lose a spouse, they will always be in your heart and a part of you. But life goes on. You get lonely; you really do. Some people can deal with it, but we were people who needed someone.”
Their experiences with grief brought faith into sharp focus for both of them. Ann's first husband wasn't Catholic, and she missed having the dimension of shared beliefs in their relationship. “He was the greatest man ever. He agreed to have our kids raised in the Catholic Church, but I missed him going to church with me. I love going to church with Ray. It means a lot to us,”
Ann said. “When I got married back when I was 20, I didn’t realize how much the Church meant to me."
Grateful she didn't set limits
Ray had been on CatholicMatch only 11 days when Ann contacted him. Ray recalled, “I had set my parameters because I didn’t want to search for anybody more than 50 miles away. So, I never saw Ann. She had no parameters like that, so she was able to see my profile.” Ann laughed as she said, "If I had put a radius on where I wanted to go, I probably would have never found him. We would have never met. I was a hundred miles away, near the Iowa border, and he was in Chicago."
For their first meeting, they met at a halfway point between their homes for coffee. They enjoyed their time together so much that two hours easily slipped away. “Ray makes me laugh. That’s one of the first things I really liked about him. He likes to have fun,” Ann said.
She was attracted to him instantly, but she wasn't sure if Ray felt strongly enough about her to continue a long-distance relationship. She was thrilled when, a few hours after they had said goodbye, he called her to ask her on another date!
Not long after, they spent the day together in a small lake town on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Everything, even the weather, was perfect as they talked away the day, getting to know each other better. From then on, they met once a week, alternating whose hometown they visited. Every moment together made their love for each other grow deeper.
Three wedding receptions later...
Two years after they met, without a lot of fanfare, they decided to get married. Ray chuckled, "The proposal was uneventful. We just said to each other one day, 'Hey, let's do this!'" They chose to have a simple wedding in Ann’s hometown, in the same church where her parents married. Intent on keeping things private, they invited only immediate family.
Even though they had friends who had discouraged marriage and thought cohabiting was better, once people found out they were getting married, their wishes to keep things private were difficult to keep. Extended family crashed the ceremony! They let Ann and Ray enjoy an intimate post-ceremony lunch, but afterwards Ann’s brothers and sisters threw a party for them in her house. The celebrating continued even a month later when friends threw another party for them near Ray’s home.
Life is short...make the most of it!
From the beginning of their relationship, Ray and Ann have found communication to be essential, including when navigating relationships with family. As they started dating, they kept in mind the feelings of their adult children. With different personalities and ways of coping with grief, they felt it was important to be understanding while at the same time pursuing what they knew was right for them.
"It is hard for adult children because that’s their mom or dad that they lost, but eventually you have to let the kids work it out," Ann said. After marrying, they chose to keep both of their homes and to have regular visits between them so they could keep their family relationships strong.
Ann points out, “We’re very affectionate with each other. I think once you go through something like we did with our spouses, you realize what is really important. Life is short. Make the most of it.”
Ray agrees. They love that they are married. In the midst of the cultural shift against marriage, Ray wants to encourage Catholics to stay strong: "Don't be discouraged!"