ROCHESTER — Should 20-year-old Alex Steiger or any of his five siblings someday enter into marriage, they will be able to draw upon their family members’ considerable wisdom in regard to holy matrimony.
In fact, 75 years worth of that wisdom and experience were present at Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 21 in the form of Alex’s parents, Jim and Ingrid, and grandparents, Deacon Jim and Carol Steiger. They were among several dozen couples who attended the annual Wedding Jubilee Mass celebrated by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano.
The liturgy paid tribute to couples who have been married for at least 10 years, with special attention given to those celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2017. Deacon Jim and Carol Steiger will note their 50th anniversary on Aug. 28, and their son and his wife will observe 25 years of marriage on Oct. 10. Alex, the third of Jim and Ingrid’s six children, served as lector for the jubilee Mass.
As they gathered at the post-Mass reception in the cathedral’s narthex, the Steiger couples reflected on vital factors in the longevity of their marriages. They stressed that love needs to be not only romantic but unconditional, accompanied by a profound sense of commitment, support and selflessness.
“Try to continue to give and give and give,” Deacon Steiger emphasized.
He added that spouses should strive to help fulfill each other’s goals and dreams; for example, he took on greater family responsibilities while his wife was working toward the bachelor’s degree she received in 1986. Then, the roles were reversed during his preparation for the permanent diaconate (he was ordained in 1990).
Deacon Steiger said that during their many years as pre-Cana coordinators, he and Carol implored couples to dwell deeply on the vows they were about to take. Another key, he added, is to put spiritual life in the forefront of married life.
“I feel marriage is a triangle — the two of you, and God is at the top,” his wife said.
Deacon Steiger’s perspectives on marriage come not only from personal experience, but also the hundreds of cases he’s handled over the past 15 years in his ongoing role as judicial assistant in the diocesan Tribunal. Too often, he said, “The failed marriages begin with one of the spouses thinking only of themselves.” He added that modern societal influences don’t help: “Young people today have the sense of entitlement — wanting everything now, and not realizing (marriage) takes time, commitment and a lot of hard work.” When they don’t get instant gratification in a marriage, he said, couples give up faster than in previous generations.
“We live in such a disposable society,” agreed his daughter-in-law, Ingrid, whose family belongs to St. Leo Parish in Hilton, where Deacon Steiger serves as well.
When difficult circumstances arise during married life, “dig down deeper,” Ingrid’s husband recommended. Much more often than not, Carol Steiger said, couples are rewarded for their persistence.
“If you stay in it together, you come out of it stronger,” Carol said.
Ingrid noted that between raising six children — one with multiple medical issues — she and Jim are just now planning their first getaway alone in 25 years of marriage. However, she was quick to add that she doesn’t feel deprived.
“I feel blessed to be married for 25 years to my best friend. I wouldn’t change anything,” she said.