As two Catholics getting married in the Catholic Church, Jay and I attended the marriage preparation course, Pre-Cana this past Saturday. We had already heard from friends that it really wasn’t “that bad” at all. Honestly? It was pretty good! It didn’t feel like being at church for a day at all. We sat through a series of lectures about things such as communication/conflict resolution, the 5 languages of love, Natural Family Planning, finances, etc.
I think I’m just going to briefly talk about/review each topic separately.
Worksheets/Exercises: We did a few worksheets/activities during the course. I really wish that we had done more of those. The first one we did was called “Mirror, Mirror” and it listed 200 adjectives. You had to circle the ones you felt described yourself and then check off the ones that described your fiance. Afterward, you shared answers with each other. It was really, really interesting to see what we thought of ourselves and each other and then to see if they matched up. (FYI, most of ours matched up, which was awesome). We did a couple other worksheets and exercises but not nearly enough. I think those worksheets taught us more about each other than the lectures did. Most were just reiterating what we already knew, but it was still a great exercise in “getting to know you.”
Marriage in the Catholic Church: This is the only topic that I can’t remember the name of exactly. We had the priest from the parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, come speak to us for a while about what it means to marry in the church and about details with the ceremony. The first part was something we all kinda figured anyway. It was really great that he spoke to us about the ceremony because theoretically, none of us there have been married before and therefore, we don’t know what it’s like to worry about the details and the actual stuff that goes on in the ceremony itself. For instance, I had no idea that the Catholic Church doesn’t condone the use of the Unity Candle and most churches didn’t allow it to be used during the mass – mainly because it drips wax all over the place and there’s no one to clean it up.
Five Languages of Love: We started off by doing a worksheet that evaluated in what order of importance each language of love is to us. The five are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Just like what I said above, I wish we had had more than 30 seconds to go over it with each other. Luckily, we had the same 1st & 5th choices, even if #’s 2-4 weren’t a match lol. The couple who ran the talk didn’t speak a lot; instead, they showed a video of a Southern man preaching about “Mars vs. Venus” type stuff. It took me a few minutes to get passed the very Southerness of the man, to be honest. He used phrases I wasn’t used to even after living here for almost 2 years and his accent was thick. However, once I focused on what he was saying, it was very informative. It was mostly common sense stuff but I learn best when I have examples and that’s what this man specialized in.
Communication and Conflict Resolution: This was basically exactly as it sounds. The couple who presented this was your typical short, dorky-looking couple but we loved them. They did a lot of role playing and gave different ways you could respond in an argument and how to work each one out. Honestly, it was right before lunchtime and a lot of it was stuff that we knew already. Luckily, they were entertaining so it kept me from looking at my watch.
Financial Basics: THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART! We got an 8 page worksheet with amazing tips and websites to go to for more information. I don’t think God was brought up once during this talk but Tony & Terri did an awesome job of teaching us about a lot of things you never even think of. I’ve already gone to some of the sites they suggested and looked into some of their tips.
Natural Family Planning: This was the talk that everyone waits for when they find out that they’re going to get a marriage prep course through the Catholic Church. It was presented to us by couple around 30 who had 3 children and practiced the “NFP” method, which is basically a more accurate version of the Rhythm Method. This couple wasn’t the normal couple who did the talk at Pre-Cana, so they told us they declined to go into a lot of the details because they weren’t certified to talk about it but it basically involves figuring out when a woman is most fertile and likely to conceive through measuring things like temperature, mucus, and cervix size and then abstaining from having sex during those days. According to the literature we received, there is scientific evidence to back up that this is just as effective a method as using birth control pills or condoms. We learned why they practice this over contraceptives (because contraceptives stop fertility completely while this method still allows a woman to ovulate while still “allowing God in the bedroom.”) This talk was the most listened to talk by everyone (duh). To be completely honest – and since it’s my blog, I think once in a while, I’m allowed to do that – I think that any alternative to being on the pill is worth looking into at some point because there are months of peace and normalcy but then there’s the random month filled with constant insanity, over-emotionalness, and weight gain and the subsequent self-loathing because you feel this way. Ladies, you may know what I’m talking about (I hope it’s not just me!). I feel bad saying this but sometime down the road, I’d consider looking into this option not because of the “let God in the bedroom” theory but rather because if it’s as effective as they say, it could be a really nice way to not rely on fake hormones every month. Anyone else out there try this method and have any input?
Marriage as a Sacrament: The last talk of the day was about Marriage being one of the Holy Sacraments in the Church. It was sort of a useless talk, to be honest BUT the couple who spoke to us about it were very good and the female half, Meg, was especially entertaining, so she kept my interest. It was nothing that anyone with active grandparents within the Catholic Church didn’t know.
So that was basically it. It was a once 6-week course crammed into 7 hours. There were some things brought up during the FOCCUS questions we had to take beforehand that were also in the workbook but not brought up at all. The biggest one was couples living together before marriage. This is such a big no-no in the Catechism that I really thought it would be discussed at some point during the workshop. According to lots of Catholic studies, most couples who live together prior to marriage end up divorcing. However, out of the approx. 15 other couples there with us, only 2 didn’t already live together and that was because one person lived out of state. Here’s what I’ll say about that: We had already settled most of these things already from living together. We knew the gyst of the financial stuff (but omfg I can’t even express how much more I got out of it), we knew about conflict resolution, the 5 languages even if we didn’t know that’s what they were called, etc.
To sum up, Pre-Cana technically didn’t teach us anything new in terms of the “how to be a married couple” but it DID reiterate a lot of things, add supplement knowledge that we would have otherwise learned the hard way, and perhaps most importantly, it reaffirmed that we really love each other and want to get married and someday start a family. 🙂