Time for a More Personal Approach to Marriage Prep?

Of my many, many shortcomings, the one I perhaps dislike most is that I am not easily impressed.  It is a fault born of a blessed life, but a fault none the less.  On my second and final day of pre-Cana last weekend I tried, not always successfully, to keep this in mind.

Like on the first day, all of the content was solid.  Couples should be able to communicate with one another, have a shared set of expectations for how married life will be lived, and be able to formulate a budget and financial plan for themselves.

Additionally, I have nothing but praise for all of the speakers, who were a good mix of ages and conditions.  Even when I wasn’t engrossed in what they were saying, it certainly was not because they were presenting it poorly.  The young, attractive, clearly in love couple who spoke about their experiences with Natural Family Planning were especially effective, I think. Read More

My Not Entirely Enthusiastic Trip to Marriage Prep

For a recovering political junkie like myself, it was fascinating to watch the 2014 and 2015 assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, each of which focused on family life in the 21st century.  I followed every development, story, and twist closely, and I, like many, am eagerly waiting to see what Pope Francis will decide to do in its wake.

The need for the Church to do a better job in marriage preparation was a frequent theme throughout the assemblies.  This intuitively made sense.  If we do a better job preparing couples before they get married, we will eventually solve the much larger and more challenging issue about what to do when some of those marriages break down and end in divorce.  More and better marriage preparation seemed to be an obvious solution.

A funny thing happened a few weeks after the most recent assembly closed, however.  I got engaged, and suddenly more marriage preparation classes sounded like a terrible idea.  My girlfriend and I want a short engagement and a spring wedding, which means ski season falls right in between when I asked if she would and when I will promise that I do.  Being from San Diego she could not care less, but I’ve been doing my snow dance for weeks now.  The idea of giving up long awaited lift tickets to attend marriage prep courses was not an appealing proposition.

When I told my girlfriend, who is not Catholic, that we would have to attend, her first reaction was to ask if “they are going to teach us how to have sex.”  I replied that I’ve never been married before so I didn’t know for certain.  I suspected, though, that while they will explain to us what the Church teaches on the matter, I don’t think anyone is going to need instruction on the mechanics.

That was, if you can call it a complaint, the last time she complained about giving up two long Sundays in the Archdiocese’s Pastoral Center.  I, on the other hand, made it clear several times that I didn’t want to attend, ski season or not.

It is important to me to be married in the Church.  My girlfriend, on the other hand, has no desire to be married in a Catholic church and is only doing so for my sake.  I am attending the classes because this is what my church asks of me, and she is attending solely because she loves me, yet somehow I am the only one making my displeasure known.

We attended our first class last Sunday—while my friends were on the slopes—and the gentleman who was running the program began by welcoming everyone, and especially the non-Catholics present.  I squeezed my girlfriend’s leg under the table at this comment, and think it meant more to me than it did to her. Read More