Dr. Allen Hunt, a convert to Catholicism and a former Protestant pastor is passionate about marriages. Not just his own marriage, but all marriages. He spoke at the Church of Spirit of Life in Mandan on September 28 to 250 people who came to learn ways to put greater passion and purpose into their own marriages.
“By any measurement, marriages in this country are not doing well,” he stated. “And by any measurement, children do best when raised by both parents in a happy marriage.” According to Hunt, that means we have a problem and he is working to be a part of the solution. Using humor, stories and insights, Hunt approached marriage from both the male and female perspectives. Before beginning his three talks, Hunt had everyone join in the “Prayer of a Married Couple” together, thanking God and appealing to him to bless our unions.
In his first talk titled “Five things women need to know about men,” Hunt explained that men need respect more than they need love. “When asked if they had to choose between being totally disrespected or being totally alone and unloved, three out of four men chose to be unloved than to be disrespected,” he said. Hunt pointed out that Scripture supports this. “In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
The top thing women want men to know about them is that they are not carburetors that need fixing. “Men think it is their responsibility to fix things, so often, when their wives just want them to listen, the men instead think they should tell them what they should do,” Hunt said. “Usually, all they want is for their husbands to listen.”
Hunt said husbands and wives can build stronger, happier relationships by building one another up with at least five positives for every negative comment. “Contempt, criticism, anger, and abuse become habits that drain love and happiness from a marriage,” he warned. “It does not kill it in a day, but it slowly drains your relationship.” Hunt again pointed to Scripture. “Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10) In addition, he added that money problems, substance abuse, dishonesty, and adultery are the big things that destroy marriages.
Hunt said that following the Catholic faith is good for marriages. “The most engaged Catholics have the lowest divorce rates—11 percent,” he said. “The Catholic faith is a safeguard because the Church’s teachings are true.” He also cited research that shows that devout, married Catholics report the best sex lives of any demographic group.
Ultimately, Hunt said that regardless of the issues between a husband and a wife, forgiveness was important for all marriages. “Either you can criticize and complain or realize that you are flawed too,” he said.
According to Msgr. Chad Gion, pastor of the Church of Spirit of Life, the feedback he has gotten from those that participated in the event has been very positive. “Dr. Hunt's retreat was just a few hours long, but the work that God was able to do in that time was remarkable,” he said. “To watch the couples walking out of the event hand in hand, so grateful to be with each other, speaks to the desire that exists in couples to have not just tolerable marriages, but outstanding marriages. When marriages are strong, families are strong. When families are strong, the parishes are vibrant.”
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