Thursday, January 7, 2010

our catholic pre-marital counseling

Will not be happening.

Apparently the diocese in Phoenix requires 9 months of marriage preparation. No if, ands, or buts about it. No exceptions. Under any circumstances. (Let me remind you, we are 5 months away from our nuptials.)

No Catholic pre-marital counseling for us. My Guy is not Catholic...and my relationship has shifted rather significantly with the church in recent years (but that is a whoooooole different story) situation isn't exactly devastating. Except for the fact that I really wanted to take part in pre-marital counseling. I think it is of benefit to any couple, and it's something that My Guy and I discussed doing long before we were engaged. I think it's important to have those difficult conversations before saying "I Do..." and I think having an moderator to facilitate discussion would add significantly to the experience.

The Deacon assured me that the church's stance on marriage preparation was sound. With the divorce rate being so astounding, they want to make sure that the couple is really ready for marriage. Of course. Makes sense. That's all well and good, but we don't have 9 months, we have 6 months.

I'm still interested in pre-marital I have some digging to do. Any suggestions?


  1. The catholic church is pretty tough, I have friends who practically had to beg them to marry them. Do you know who will be your officiant? Perhaps look into an episcopalian church? We did premarital counseling through my husband's family's church which is about 2 hours away, and pretty much took these personality tests (the same ones can be found online) and simply talked about our answers was nice, but in retrospect we did not necessarily need the priest with us as the questionare opened us up to significant conversations.

  2. Jordan and I had a really interesting pre-marital counselling experience. We began by going to the premarriage counselling sessions at our church but were less than impressed with what we got. I really wanted to sit down and have the tough discussions so I asked my youth pastor from childhood (who was also marrying us) to spend some time sitting down with us and having a marriage "conversation". We were really happy with our session, and the preparation that we did for it was almost as helpful as the session itself. So my advice is this:

    1. Do a lot of preparation together first. (I have a list of questions that were given to us to help us prepare if you would like them).

    2. Ask someone that you trust (a lot) who is not personally involved in your marriage to walk you through the conversation.

  3. I did get married in the Church and love our pre-marital counseling. Best of all was a retreat at our church hosted by married couples (4 I think) and learning from them. Check in your area if any churches back there that would "adopt" you for some things. I also totally recommend that both of you read the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. And I'm a big fan of "For women only" and "For men only" by Shaunti Feldham.

  4. The Candyman and I went to a professional marriage and family counselor who we both liked. You might need to try more than one to get it right - we did. Our first was a total nightmare.

    We are still going simply because we do not know how to fight. We aren't fair, we don't listen, we yell. It sucks. However, with a third party vested in training new behaviors, we've improved DRASTICALLY. It's not easy, but fabulous things rarely are.

    I say whatever you do, get thee to counseling regardless of where it is!

  5. I've thought about the same thing since we certainly are not Catholic and we aren't getting married in a church. Might be a good idea to do some pre-marital counseling. One thing we did do was sit down with our friend and officant to talk about our thoughts on marriage, family, commitment so that might be a suggestion for folks.

  6. Wow, 9 months is some hard core counseling. We actually have our first marriage counseling session tomorrow at 2pm with the pastor that is marrying us. My pastor is nondenominational so there is no rule about how long (whew) or we'd be out of luck too, my dear!I'm excited/kinda nervous about it! Maybe I'll have some advice after tomorrow!

  7. There are lots of other options when it comes to pre-marital counseling.
    Where I live, we have places like that specifically work to strengthen relationships and educate/prepare people for marriage. You may have something like that in your area or trained professionals that offer pre-marital counseling if you can't find a pastor of another denomination who will. Or, if you want to take a trip...the site above will tell you about a pre-marital event in February!
    As for the divorce rate that was mentioned as a reason for the minimum of nine months prep is a devastating reality...but no matter how "prepared" you are for marriage, you have to choose each other every day. No amount of prep can insure that your marriage will last. That will be up to the both of you. Sometimes it is a hard choice, but it will make it worth it.
    Pre-marital counseling was great for my husband and I. It really helps you learn to communicate effectively and gives you the tools to deal with conflict, plan for finances, etc.
    Keep trying to find somewhere! Good luck!

  8. our church (protestant) offers pre-marital counseling to non-members. i would check a few local churches to see if you can find something similar.

  9. Local churches are a really good idea, nondenomitational churches welcome anyone in. For me I'd personally need to know the person well enough to know we had enough of the same views on life (for example, the freedom of spirituality and believing vrs. religion and rules). I'd want to be able to look up to the person who was giving us the lowdown on life and marriage.

    E. and I skipped out on this. We of course only had three months, but what my parents asked us to do was to read the book "Love and Respect". They also have retreats/evening sessions hosted by churches and audio that you can download. I've heard people flip out over this book and be like, "So THIS is what marriage is supposed to look like". I've seen it help my dad a ton too, and he brings flowers to my mom every week now. Cute!! To be honest, I still haven't read it-- but I hope that when I do it'll have something to say to E and I, and that it'll help in the little personal battles we fight over and over agian... where we just misunderstand each other and end up hurt and mad. For no reason.

    My suggestion would be to explore your other options that might be a little out of the box. Everyone here has great suggestions! If your views of the catholic religion have been changing, step out! Find something that speaks true to you, and that you both can do in whatever style works best for you.

    If you want to check out what was suggested to us, I found their website here:

    Good luck girlie!

  10. Dear EVERYONE!! such wonderful suggestions and feedback! Thank you times a zillion for the support!

  11. Jes,

    If you have not already considered a LMFT then I think this might be another place to go. Its obviously not religious, but these folks are trained in EXACTLY what you are looking for -- being a moderator for couples to have difficult and rewarding discussions.

    Andy and I have actually been going to 2 different LFMTs (one in NY with him, and one here in UT) for about 18 months. We go about once every 6 weeks, I would say, and its been great. With our situation (Ex's, step child, custody, etc) it seemed like an absolute requirement. and it has really been good!

    good luck!

  12. My fiance and I are both Protestant-identifying Christians, but we actually did a Catholic "Engaged Encounter" weekend together as part of our premarital prep. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who's comfortable with a Christian framework for family wasn't too pushy in our experience.( The structure of the weekend appealed to us (no airing of dirty laundry outside the two of you), and allowed us to get started with the, as a fellow med was nice to be able to have an intensive weekend as opposed to trying to fit weekly meetings into the ever-rotating schedule.

    We've also met once with a secular counselor to discuss communication styles/techniques, and are meeting several times with our officiating pastor to have more personal facilitated talks. And we're reading books. Books of questions, books of advice, books of theories. Most recent book: The Five Love Languages. Don't have to agree with everything that's in them-I think that's part of the point-but it's easy to do at your own pace.

  13. @sanebride, I'd be interested in that list of questions if you'd be willing to pass them along!

  14. I have to second the LFMT recommendation. My fiancee and I had no big issues but wanted to discuss the hard subjects before we got married. I could only help, right? We just called around to local family therapists and told them what we were looking for. Depending on your health benefits, we were able to get it covered as couples counseling through our work Employee Assistance Program. We really enjoyed having a non-religious option. Good Luck!

  15. Go to my blog and search pre-marital counseling. There is a link in one of my posts to a site we used that's called the Prepare test or something like that. It was so great...they have a feature on the site to be able to find someone in your area to facilitate the test taking and pre-marital counseling portion with you. Hope it works out!

  16. Hi Jes! That 9-month rule seems a little bit ridiculous, if you ask me. I certainly understand the intention, but wouldn't they rather a couple get * some* premarital counseling than none? Hmmm...

    P.S. Tim said he would do your premarital counseling if you're going to be in Tucson for awhile... :)

  17. Pre-marital counseling is advisable to avoid negative emotions. The emotional problems during your married lives. It's best to deal with it early on. I suggest that you look into some marriage counseling books as a simple precaution, or just added knowledge to supplement the absence of pre-marital counseling.

    If you're having trouble looking for a marriage counseling book, I could suggest the one on my link. Thanks and more power to AMountainBride!

  18. Just found your post and I hope that you solved the pre-marital counseing thing. In addition to all the neat programs suggested (Engaged Encounter, etc.) you can always do your pre-marital counseling in another diocese that's not quite so strict on the time issue. Nine months no exceptions is ridiculous, even for the Catholic Church.

  19. Communication breakdown is often cited as the most common complaint in struggling marriages. Healing the brokenness in the marriage and overcoming communication breakdowns in marriage requires perseverance and a shift in attitudes but it is possible even if only one person is trying.

    marital counseling ma



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