Post # 1
Fiance and I have started our pre-cana counseling required by the catholic church. (fiance is not catholic, so he’s just along for the ride.) I’m not a super-religious person, but I was raised catholic and always knew i wanted to get married in the church, but jeez, they do not make it easy!
We took our FOCCUS test at the end of the summer and are now about to do our second “couple-to-couple” meeting with an older couple from the church. And we had “homework” to do from the first meeting. Silly worksheets with exercises like “pick 7 traits from the following list and describe how your beloved demonstrates them.” (they actually used the word “beloved.” gag.) Fiance and I are not mushy-gushy-PDA’ing saps. Having to do this feels like 7th grade busywork. My fiance knows what traits I like in him. I hate that we have to do this and then discuss it with a strange couple we’ve met once before? ugh. thankfully the church is not into “writing your own vows.” the idea of standing in front of a group of people and reciting something like that, that i wrote, is horrifying. we’re just a private couple.
and if they try to have a one-on-one discussion with us on “natural family planning” methods…. oh hell no! let’s not have this discussion and say we did.
anyone else feel like this?
Post # 3
It’s too bad you’re feeling so frustrated by the process. You’re right that the Church “doesn’t make it easy” – but that’s because they sincerely want you to have a successful, enduring marriage, and that’s not easy to do in this day and age. We tend to lavish a TON of time and energy (and money!) on wedding preparation, and to think of it as this huge culmination – but there’s a lot about that way of thinking that’s totally backward. The Church is focused on MARRIAGE preparation and on helping couples realize that the wedding, important as it is, is more of a beginning than a culmination.
Marriage prep can be as pleasant (or not) and as successful (or not) as you allow it to be. What are your reasons for wanting to get married in the Church? Is it because of family expectations? Because it will make for nice pictures? Do you want God’s blessing on your lives together? Do you feel like marrying in the Church will help strengthen your bond? It might be good to think about these questions a little bit. If you are just going through the motions/”along for the ride,” then it’s understandable that you would find the FOCCUS sessions, etc., irritating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. FOCCUS can be a great way to approach some of the difficult topics that you and your Fiance may not have discussed yet (e.g. finances, communication styles, your relationships with each other’s families, whether and when you would like to have children and how you will raise them, etc.). If you go into it with an open mind, it can really help you strengthen the foundation of your marriage. I hope you can find some value in it going forward.
Post # 4
I’m going to be incredibly surprised if this entire process finds a single topic that we haven’t discussed yet. I think it’s silly that so many people get to the engagment stage of a relationship but haven’t yet discussed significant aspects of their relationship. We’ve discussed our families, children, finances, we own a house together. We are intimately familar with each other’s finances. We both see the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s families and upbringings.
It’s not the discussion or the meeting itself I find irritating. It’s these “homework” sheets that feel like busy work. “List 7 traits your beloved has and describe how he demonstrates them.” So I’ll pick something like “Caring about a home.” My fiance knows what he does around the house. Why do I have to tell some stranger about it? “Makes me laugh.” Why do i have to give him an example of what makes me laugh? He’s done it, he obviously knows how!
One of the choices was “Turns me on physically.” Seriously? You want me to write a recent example of that so we can discuss this with a couple older than my parents that I’ve met once for an hour? No. Not happening.
Post # 5
@ZChick17: I hear you… we had ours in a retreat weekend so it was pretty intense but glad its over. We also thought it was everything we’d already talked about. But you know what, it was reassuring – and I do go back to things we talked about that weekend because it was one long prolonged talk about life. It’s a bit mushy-gushy – I laughed when Fiance walked in with a rose because they made him. It was cheesy and funny and he never has and never will give me flowers again. But I think they make it difficult for a reason – to place importance on the marriage.
Just go with it and make it work for you. Not all of it is so superficial. Even though we’d talked about the issues and plans, this gave us a chance to revisit it and get deeping/more detailed. All the talking was as a couple though, in a group format we listened to speakers and then went away and had our own conversations. I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about it with people I didn’t know. NFP went as far as “if you want some brochures they’re at the back of the room.”
If its busy work, be busy, get it done in five minutes and don’t think about it again. Maybe keep your mind on the intention behind it? I remember it started pretty lame and then got into bigger stuff as the weekend went on. Noone’s making you do it, right?
Post # 6
Well, it sounds like you’ve already made up your mind that marriage preparation has nothing useful to offer you. Do you really think, though, that this couple who is making time in their lives to meet with you, is doing it because they have nothing better to do? Or because they are somehow benefiting from spending this time with you? And that they have nothing to offer you, and you have nothing you could possibly learn from them about building a successful marriage, and they deserve your scorn?
It sounds like you and your Fiance are *not* in the habit of expressing much appreciation for one another, frankly, from the way you talk about it – and that’s not a particularly sustainable dynamic for a marriage. When people assume that they know how the other person feels, and the other person knows how *they* feel, and open communication gets taken for granted and falls by the wayside, that’s exactly what causes a lot of marriages to deteriorate. This couple has no interest in hearing the lurid details about your physical attraction for one another, I promise. (And if you’re uncomfortable with that topic, for heaven’s sake pick a different one instead of complaining about the fact that it’s there at all. It might not be the right choice for you, but it can be useful for other couples, so live and let live). The FOCCUS facilitator couple cares about helping you and your Fiance learn how to *not* take one another for granted – and one of the ways of doing that is by expressing, verbally, that appreciation for one another. It’s not for their benefit, it’s for *yours*, whether you think you need it or not.
Try giving them the benefit of the doubt: assume that they’re giving up their time for a good reason, and recognize that it’s for your sakes. Cultivate a little humility, and appreciation, and gratitude. (Those, by the way, are important skills for marriage, too.)
Post # 7
Wow, yeah, that’s pretty awesome. You can take your perfect marriage and go away. I’m not giving them scorn. I’m simply saying that I am not comfortable talking about mushy-gushy reasons that I love my fiance infront of a couple that I don’t know. The only person in the world who needs to hear that stuff is him, and he hears what he needs to. But thanks for passing your judgement on me.
Matthew, 7.1 1Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Post # 8
Yikes, it does sound painful. I was born & raised Catholic, spent 16 years in Catholic school and I opted for a secular wedding. I spoke to a lot of my friends who had to go through the pre-cana process and it didn’t seem like anything I wanted to willfully subject myself to. I just don’t feel connected to the church so for me, it was an easy decision. BUT yeah, I’ve heard the horror stories! I wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing those things with anyone!
Post # 9
My fiance and I went into our pre-cana weekend retreat thinking that it was going to be kind of a waste of time. We already knew everything about each other and had discussed our plans for the future and we thought it was just going to be so stupid. But we agreed that if we had to go through it, we might as well try to take it somewhat seriously and make the best of it. And honestly, it was really really awesome. Sure, some if it was cheesy and ridiculous, but it turns out that there actually were a lot of things we didn’t know about each other. And it’s always nice to hear your partner’s responses to things – I mean, I knew he loved me but some of his answers to those “what do you love about KatieBklyn?” questions surprised me in a good way.
The NFP discussion was also not a big deal – we listened to the presentation and moved right along. If you’re not comfortable talking about it one on one, just tell them that. I’d be surprised if they didn’t respect that and move on. I’m pretty sure it’s not in the curriculum for them to be beating you upside the head with a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility you until you confess and repent for using birth control. Something like 95% of Catholic couples use artificial contraception… your couple might be one of those 95%, so chances are, they’re not going to interrogate you.
If it’s just discussing things with the couple instead of discussing them privately, you might want to look into an Engaged Encounter weekend. That’s what we did, and literally every conversation we had was private. We shared nothing at all in front of the group or with the couples unless we chose to seek one of them out for advice or further discussion during a meal time.
Post # 10
If they want to instruct us to have these conversations privately, and then ask us to report back on what we found (we realized we both think the same about ___ think differently about___) then that would be one thing. It’s just not our style to talk about “feelings” publicly. We’re not the type who write mushy messages for all our friends to see on each others facebook- in fact, we’re both put off by people who DO do it. The only person who needs to hear that stuff is your husband/boyfriend/fiance/whomever, so tell them, privately.
Post # 11
@ZChick17: I had to do some research on Pre Cana classes around my area before signing up for it to avoid what you’re going through. We were fortunate enough to find one of the shorter Pre Cana classes (only 8 hours!) and with a more liberal church. The couples that led the class was a mix of ages (one couple was our age who were in their late 20s); and, the priest gave us information on NFP but did not go into depth about it because he felt that it was our decision as a couple.
I’m so sorry you’re having such a bad time with Pre Cana. If my DH (atheist) had to endure Pre Cana classes like you guys did, he would have bolted and I wouldn’t have been able to have a wedding in a church.
Post # 12
Fortunately my fiance is being a pretty good sport about going along with it… he’s not an athiest, but he was raised without any formal religious upbringing, so I know this isn’t what he wants to be doing in the least. Perhaps I can use that for an example of something he does that is kind and caring- he’s putting up with this for me! haha.
We had a choice of a weekend-long engaged encounter (I knew I could never ask that of him.) So we opted for the couple-to-couple… They said its about 5 meetings, and the first one was a little over an hour. So the time commitment isn’t horrible. I have friends in the area that have had a day-long retreat fairly locally, I’d have taken that option if it were available.
I suppose we can chalk it up to something you have to endure over the course of your marriage, right?
Post # 13
I guess, that’s true. lol I’m sure my DH thought it was torturous.
Post # 14
I wonder why you’ve chosen to have a Catholic ceremony? I have/had similar feelings about not wanting to discuss my relationship/feeling like my fiance and I know each other. It also sounds like were in a similar part of the process as we’ve done our FOCCUS and our first meeting with our priest, but no actual pre-cana yet. The one thing that really came from our meeting with our priest for us was talking openly with someone about where and how our faith factored into our relationship. My fiance has some justifiably issues with the church that are personal and hard for him to talk about, but our discussion with our priest was open, honest, and really helped us think about our faith as individuals and as a couple. Honestly, having a third party, subjective voice was refreshing and we actually were really happy we went. While we’re not thrilled about not knowing what pre-cana will hold for us and possible cheese factor, we are looking forward to talking with other Catholic couples in our area. If you’re feeling this way about the assignments why not talk to your peer couple about it? Maybe they can either do soemthing different with you or help you make it be more meaningful for you and your fiance.
Post # 15
We did a weekend-long pre-cana. On the natural family planning it was very brief and they basically give you info on where to get info (websites, books, whatever). They took pains to emphasize that it’s not the old “calendar method”. Oh, and apparently their natural method is 99% safe when used correctly. Yeah, right:)))
Post # 16
If anyone is in the Tri-State area, I highly highly recommend Peter Macfadden for pre-Cana. Our church suggested we use him and it was the most painless process ever. FI and I each took the FOCCUS test and did about an hour of pre-reading, then met with him one-on-one for 3 hours to discuss our differences on the test and that was it. I was seriously scared going into it and it turned out to be fine. And very minimal time on NFP!
The website is: http://www.creativemarriages.info/