What Is Marriage Preparation
You're in love and as a couple, you have chosen to be married in the Catholic faith.
Excitedly you visit your priest feeling confident and totally prepared to book your wedding date. During your visit you will be informed that the Church requires a significant waiting period before entering into marriage. You will also be required to attend some form of marriage preparation during the months leading up to your wedding and you may wonder why? Isn't our love enough to prepare us for marriage?
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(The above statistics were gathered from the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage, by Bishop J. Kevin Boland, Chairman to the USCCB Committee on Marriage and Family Life).
The Church understands that the choice of any life long vocation should not be entered into without a period of serious, prayerful reflection and education. The Church wishes to lovingly assist and guide you through your engagement period by providing a marriage preparation process.
Most couples are aware of the prerequisite to attend marriage preparation (sometimes referred to as Pre-Cana in various areas of the United States) but many do not realize just what these sessions contain. The purpose of Marriage Preparation is to explore your expectation of marriage and to promote the skills needed to acquire contentment and longevity in your marriage.
These courses have been recognized both nationally and internationally as a quality and highly effective marriage preparation program designed to meet the needs of today's engaged couples. They are usually conducted through your parish, where you will gather with other engaged couples to discuss and reflect on the challenges of married life.
You may be hesitant to attend these courses at first, but most couples soon begin to appreciate this quality time spent together. Course content may vary from region to region but generally the following areas will be included.
COMMUNICATION: Poor communication skills play a major part in most marriage breakdowns. You will explore skills to better communicate your needs and learn effective conflict resolution.
PERSONAL NEEDS: A time to review the decision making process and to examine your motives for seeking marriage. There will be discussions on the basics of married life such as sexual relations and financial management.
SPIRITUAL NEEDS: Your marriage is a sacrament and a vocation. God and prayer will play an important part in it.
These programs have been designed to deepen and enrich the relationship of the engaged couple in preparation for marriage. Through honest discussion you will have the opportunity to explore your strengths and weaknesses, goals and ambitions, attitudes about money, sex, children, extended families and your roles in the Church and society.
These courses will include other engaged couples, but rest assured your privacy will always be maintained. Each couple will be offered private time to question and examine their relationship with each other and with God. Often a presentation on a topic will be offered with the intent that the couple will discuss it together afterwards. When you become involved in the spirit of these presentations you will find they will open opportunities to explore your relationship in a deep and honest way.
Some couples delay this part of their marriage preparation. They may not realize that attending these courses could further nurture their love through improved communication skills, making this time of planning even more enjoyable. A few couples have left courses realizing that they were not meant to marry one another. Although this may be difficult, it is better to have their problems revealed in advance. This realization provides an opportunity to avoid a bad marriage before it starts.
Couples interviewed after attending marriage preparation leave the course with a renewed motivation towards communication along with a firm footing as to what they expect from their marriage. They are confident in their decision to marry and thankful for this scheduled time to explore their relationship and motivation to enter into marriage.
The first years of your marriage will form the foundation for a lifetime. To invest this time into your relationship during your engagement will become the best marriage gift you can give to each other.