Marriage requires communication and compromise

Friday, Nov. 24, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY — "Having Christ as a foundation of your marriage is so important," said Sue Boerke.

"You have be committed to Christ in your beliefs and into the institution of marriage before it can ever work," said Matt Boerke, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. "You also have to have a shared faith commitment. Marriage is understanding, it is a commitment for life, rather than a trial and error method."

"You have to have a sense of humor because it is not all peaches and roses," said Sue. "It is hard work. You also have to be unselfish."

Matt said you have to choose your battles and be willing to compromise because there are so many battles that could ruin your marriage. You have to be aware of the other person’s needs and be willing to communicate at the right time. When you are tired, hungry, or sick, is not a good time to communicate. Sarcasm, yelling, and bringing up the past do not work.

Matt and Sue have been married for three years. They are members of St. Ann Parish, where they taught Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine (CCD) classes.

Following college, Matt and Sue both applied separately to be Peace Corps volunteers and met in Jamaica. They were friends for the first year before they started dating.

"He asked me to marry him on Easter Sunday," said Sue. "We were both each other’s souvenir. Everyone was so surprised because no one knew we were dating."

"I took her to the resort towns and we just walked around and spent time on the beach and hiking," said Matt. "When you are a Peace Corps volunteer you do not have a lot of money. It was more just visiting and becoming friends."

"We were in Jamaica for two years and returned to Illinois in 2003. When we returned, we planned the wedding, got married in September, and moved to Utah a couple weeks later."

Sue grew up on the south side of Chicago, Ill., in a Polish neighborhood with two brothers and a sister. Her parents are Polish immigrants, and made faith a big part of the family’s lifestyle.

Matt grew up with one brother in the small town of Morton, Ill., just outside of Peoria. He chose to attend the University of Utah so he could ski while going to school. He graduated with a degree in Marketing in 2000.

Sue teaches first grade at Orchard Elementary School, which is a low-income school in Salt Lake City. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she was a teacher at a primary school where she taught reading and ran the environmental program, which was an after school 4-H program. She graduated from the University of Illinois in health and physical education in 2001.

Matt worked in the environmental sector doing marketing and teaching computer skills and internet classes in the computer center. He also taught environmental education at a couple of elementary schools.

Matt decided to join the Peace Corps after getting involved in service projects in college. He said at first his roommate dragged him along, but then he really began to enjoy volunteering.

"I was also drawn to the Peace Corps to see other places knowing I have been very fortunate," said Matt. "Taking the skills and blessings I have had, I wanted to give back."

Sue said she decided to join the Peace Corps one Sunday while sitting in church.

"It was something I felt I had to do," said Sue. "Part of it was the adventure in travel, but I cannot explain why. It was just a calling. It was not until I joined the Peace Corps that my faith actually grew and I took ownership of it.

"Together we grew in our faith, and that is what our relationship has been based on," said Sue.

"The life in Jamaica is so different," said Matt. "Obviously it is a completely different culture, but they always say everything is going to be okay. Part of the reason is, in their own way, they truly offer it up to God each day. They say, ‘I’ve got food on the table, my family and loved ones, and I’ve got my health, and that is all I need.’ That is the living prayer they live there. You don’t have the daily distractions, the materialism, and capitalism, and so we really had time to look at what is important in life."

"We miss that here," said Sue. "We miss the simplicity of life and taking life day-by-day. Here we have all kinds of responsibilities and too many distractions. Although a big part of our life is traveling around the state camping, hiking, and enjoying all the beautiful sites, as well as skiing."

Together, they sponsor a little brother from the Big Brother Big Sister Program. They hope to have children in the near future, and are practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP). They said it requires a lot of communication to make it work as well as being open to God’s will. They are preparing to be an NFP teaching couple.

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