Post # 1
I am a Catholic bee, as well as my FI. We have our first meeting with the pastor on Saturday and we are excited! I know that our parish offers several options for marriage prep. There is the Engaged Encounter retreat (and I have heard both good and bad things), there are weekly evening classes, or there is spending time with a sponsor couple from the parish.
From way before we were engaged, my FI has told me that he wants to do the sponsor couple. He said he has heard good things, plus its the only free option (courtesy of the parish), and also the least time consuming. He kind of wants to get in and out.
I happen to love retreats. And being from a divorced family, I take marriage extremely seriously- it is definitely a lifetime commitment- so I’ve always wanted to do the retreat to make sure we are in the best possible mindset to begin our lives together. But my FI’s family (while they have always gone to Sunday mass with us) are definitely not as spirtually inclinded as my family and I. They pray before meals- but the prayers are said so fast you can’t even really understand the words! In my family we all chip in our prayers if we need to… That would be uncomfortable in his family. I have a strong faith and love to spend time with others who share my love. FI’s family has “made light of/ made fun of” their pre-marriage retreat to us, bragging that they skipped out early. I am more the one to take it seriously and enjoy the deep discussions and fellowship with other couples in love. I honestly take this commitment so seriously that it would not bother me one bit to do more than one option (I know- who would do that except me? haha.
My FI is very supportive, and I know if I told him that I would love to do the retreat, he would do it with me. He might even really enjoy it. Though I know he would joke around about “how dumb it was” to his family afterwards to save face, and say he was only doing it for me. Alone though, he will pray with me, and talk about his faith with me- things I am almost sure he has never done with any of his family members, other than politically debate some issues. I know that I have offered just such a different culture (to talk about faith) to him than he grew up in- he is not used to letting himself be open with his beliefs and prayers- so it will be a lifelong journey for us 🙂
My question is basically this: do you think I would get the same level of deep communication and fellowship with the sponsor couple option? It is worth it to do a retreat? I really need our marriage off on the right foot, and I would love to prepare for this huge step in the best way possible. Also, do you bees have any other books/tools you recommend for marriage prep- faith-based or otherwise?
Post # 3
I went on a retreat, and the best part about it was all the 1 on 1 time with Fi discussing different things that we’d never thought about. Most of what is covered are things you’ll likely have already discussed, but there’s always a few little things that come up. You als get the perspectives of many married couples at different points in their lives.
I personally would prefer that to discussing things with another couple. Some topics are just private.
With that said, I’d recommend doing whichever you think you would both get the most out of.
Post # 4
FI and I are about to have our last meeting with our sponsor couple, and we couldn’t be more happy that we chose this route. Our sponsor couple seems to have been made for us. We have 1 on 1 conversations during each session (4 total), and we go through points on the FOCCUS that we didn’t match answers on (which wasn’t much apparently). Our sponsor couple also goes through the points with us and give us their input. Like PP said, most of the things that are covered are things that we have already discussed, so the meetings with the couple have just really reaffirmed that we’re on the right track.
Post # 5
We did the Engaged Encounter retreat, and I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s totally unlike every other retreat I’ve ever been on (in a way that I think will make your FI feel a bit more comfortable). DH and I are both pretty private about our faith… we don’t like stuff like sharing your thoughts/feelings in a small group, etc. (the normal retreaty stuff). But Engaged Encounter allows you to totally spend the weekend on your own for the most part (aside from listening to speakers, and our speakers were really diverse and inspiring). Most of the time at ours was spent just me with my husband, talking about various topics. At one point we got to write our own prayer for our marriage, and I ended up framing it when we got home and we still have it three years later!
The sponsor couple would be helpful too, I’m sure, but to me it seems like that would be more uncomfortable (you have to share a lot of personal discussions with a couple you just met). If you get a great sponsor couple though, it’s really nice to have a “role model” of sorts.
I actually think the retreat might seem less time-consuming in the end… one weekend and it’s done, and most of it is just time you get to spend together, which is nice when you’re so busy with wedding planning and things! And if paying for it is an issue, I think there are ways to get your fee waived if you have financial need (I know there are in my diocese). Plus you get a discount on your marriage license in many states with the Engaged Encounter completion certificate.
I think both options would be fine, but we really liked the retreat. I wrote about it on my blog if you want to read more – the link is in my profile. Or feel free to PM me!