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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 5:44AM #1
ladyalice
Posts: 266
The Catholic Church requires engaged couples to  participate in a marriage preparation program before  the wedding can take place.  Is there a similar requirement for other Christian denominations?

Those of you who have partaken in a church based marriage prep program, did you find it to be helpful?
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 6:29AM #2
DustyLady
Posts: 430
The Lutheran church also suggests that couples go through pre-marital counseling with the pastor.  Some churches are stricter about actually requiring it than others.  I think there are times when it is good for couples to sit down and really think about why they're getting married, and if they've thought about some of the possible problems that might occur.  I'm not sure it's necessary in all cases.

My husband and I didn't go through it.  But then, we weren't married in a church.  We were married in the center of a labyrinth, with one of our friends -- who was an ordained minister -- to officiate.  And we seem to have turned out pretty good.

I think it's something that shouldn't be required.  Again, some couples might feel better for having done it.  And if the pastor who is officiating at the wedding feels better for having briefly spoken to the couple first, then I don't have a problem with that.

Dusty
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 8:28AM #3
shiloh43
Posts: 423
yes baptise reccomend that also and they even charge extra to get a license if you dont take the the classes. everyone should take them or at least speak to your pastor first.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 3:06PM #4
Tmarie64
Posts: 5,277
[QUOTE=DAH54;77902]Baptist have one of the higher divorce rates of Christians, why should anyone let alone everyone take such a course, when there is nothing to suggest they actually help?[/QUOTE]

They're not doing it right.  They are showing videos and saying "This is what you do"..  The Catholic Church, however, REALLY counsels, 6 months, team you up with a married couple, all KINDS of compatibility tests.  I was very impressed with the whole thing.
James Thurber - "It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 3:13PM #5
shiloh43
Posts: 423
not really, but no amount of preparation you take ahaed of time is going to help after its done with cause when you are living with someone you go day by day and certain things happen in life  that changes you from one year to the next and you dont think the same way in your teens or in your 2os and on, every 10 year gap that you reach things change during those years and you dont think the same way as you did then, thats life. no amount of lessons before hand is going to help you. Life is your class and you attend it every day that you get up. But, the court is the one that charges ciouples mopre money with out the classes, you pay 55.00 for a licnece here with out classes and 30.00 with classes. But i soley think it depends on the peoplr involved and i guess it doesnt matter if you are baptist or whatever, if you dont love someone anymore then why would you stay.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 4:59PM #6
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407
Tmarie,

As a fellow Catholic, I am surprised and appalled at the Catholic-bashing that is going on here.  The sad thing is that it is being done by those who are clearly nolt aware of what the Church teaches and nor of what happens at the marriage preparation classes.  I have long since learned to only take seriously information that comes from those who are informed of what they are speaking. 

Of all things that try to prepare a couple for marriage, Pre-Cana and Engaged Encounter seem to be the best of the ones I have seen.  Unfortunately, it may be that nothing is truly adequate for preparing a couple for what lies ahead.  Also, it is also true that however good the intent and however good the program, it is an empirical question as to whether or not is has truly been effective.  The studies  have seen (such as the ones that show higher divorce rates for born-again Christians and lowest rates for Catholics and Atheists) only quote statistics by professed religion and don't break it down by what pre-marriage programs were attended (I would very much like to see some data on that).  So it is an open question as to whether pre-Cana actually does have a lasting positive effect on couples.  Regardless of that, all the couples I have talked with who have gone through it have said it was a very valuable experience.

Blessings,
Arnie
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 5:45PM #7
Laura78
Posts: 2,774
I think that although pre-Cana can not guarantee success of the marriage, it certainly helps some couples. You would be amazed of how many people decide to marry without having discussed issues such as 1) kids 2) where to live 2) money management etc. etc.

I think the effects of pre-Cana will be seen in the future because it is only recently that pre-marital courses have kicked in big time.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 5:50PM #8
Anesis
Posts: 1,543
There is a significant difference between divorce rates among Catholics and Protestants, and it is highest among Evangelicals. I’m not so sure there is a causal relationship between marriage preparation and success of the marriage, though. I did some snooping around and found that to be married in the Catholic church, preparation consists of the following:
   
  Marriage Preparation
A period of several months to one year is necessary to complete the preparation for marriage in the Church. Preparation consists of several meetings with the Parish Priest as well as a weekend Marriage Preparation Program which is followed up by at-home sponsor couple sessions. The weekend Program is held at Saint xxxxx’s once a year, usually in February.”

 
  I honestly can’t see a few sessions with a Priest and a weekend program being the cause of lower divorce rates. Here’s what I think, and this is not to bash the Catholic church, but is only my opinion: the Catholic church has a somewhat oppressive attitude toward marriage and divorce, and there is a difficult process to go through when you are divorced and want to remarry. Because divorce is seen as such an awful sin, I’m sure many people will leave the church so they don’t have to face up to the guilt the church puts on divorced people. The same used to be true for conservative protestants, and I think the reason the divorce rates among protestant denominations is on the rise is that we are realizing that divorce is not some terrible sin that will send you to hell. We have a (historically) new perspective on what the Bible really says about divorce and remarriage, which is liberating to many who have stayed in abusive or intolerable circumstances.
 
  So what I am saying here is that just because Catholics have a lower divorce rate, doesn’t mean it is the direct result of effective marriage preparation courses.
 
  Now, aside from the reasons why people divorce and picking apart denominations who have higher or lower divorce rates, the issue of marriage preparation comes up. I’ve been through marriage preparation twice, and both times it was essentially the same thing, where we filled out an assessment form, it was analyzed, and brought out potential points of disagreement. It was nothing our relationship had not already revealed, though, and most of the time with the pastor was spent on planning the wedding as opposed to planning the marriage.
 
  Compatibility tests are fine, but people can lie on them, and if you know your partner well enough, you can answer like you know s/he will, skewing the results to make it appear you are more compatible than you actually are. There is nothing to suggest that any marriage preparation program will work…..not even the one I created.
 
  Imho, there are things you would benefit from to prepare for your marriage. Read. Get all the books you can and read them together – on marriage, and talk about them. If you don’t like to read, I suggest you read three anyway: Dr. John Gottman’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” and Gary Thomas’s “Sacred Marriage”, and Lewis Smedes’s “Learning to Live the Love We Promise.” You can prepare by discussing the hard things, like coming up with potential scenarios and seeing your partner’s response – for example, there was a couple who married, and only a couple of years into the marriage, she was in a terrible car accident that left her living in an iron lung. Really try to imagine that is you and your partner. Are you willing to stay committed till death do you part when your spouse is unable to reach out and touch you, hold you, kiss you, walk on the beach with you, or even sit on the sofa with you? Does your partner have a criminal record? What about track record with relationships? How did past relationships end? Talk about kids, money, sex, where you want to live and how you fit into each other’s lives and careers and faiths – now and in the future. Talk about your values, your goals, the things you love about each other and the things you hate about each other. Don’t consider compatibility so much as you consider alikeness – the more alike you are, the more likely you are to stay married. The biggest thing: get your passion and your emotions out of the way. They are nothing more than a hindrance and distraction to making a wise, rational decision as to whether to marry or not.
 
  There are a lot more things you could do, but that might give you a bit of an idea of just some of the work that will go into making your marriage work.
  An
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 11:21PM #9
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407
I would like to address some of the points raised by the previous post, albeit to nobody in particular.

First, I would like to acknowledge the sensitivity and care taken in the post, as well as the evident desire to do the best by couples considering marriage.  The suggestions offered are all ones that will undoubtedly benefit such couples.  Of the books suggested, I am familiar with Gottman, whose work is excellent.

The question was raised whether the marriage preparation classes are somehow the cause of lower divorce rates, and it is completely understandable to be skeptical that such a program by itself could do such a thing.  In fact, the purpose of the program is to prepare couples for marriage, not to prevent divorce, so whether is does or doesn't would be incidental to its purpose.  The fact that the Church started one of the most successful marriage enrichment programs, Marriage Encounter (that has been emulated in many Protestant denominations) shows that the Church views marriage as an organic, evolving relationship that requires energy and effort throughout.  At best any program can help a couple deal with what is in front of them and what is coming next - which changes as the marriage unfolds. 

Having relatively low divorce rates in itself is not necessarily even a virtue, nor is having relatively high divorce rates necessarily a vice.  So if couples stay together in misery because they think the Church "wants" that, then that is a bad thing, imo.  And if couples divorce because they are truly incompatible and miserable, with no hope for healing, then that is a good thing, imo. 

It was not stated whether the marriage preparations experienced were Catholic one or not.  If so, then what was described was obviously not particularly useful, and is not indicative of all such ones - the one in my parish for example is much more than that, and Engaged Encounter is even deeper.

The point of this response is not to disagree or argue, nor is it even to defend Catholicism; there are plenty of areas regarding marriage where the Catholic Church can rightfully be criticized, imo, and there are many places where it gets things exactly "right," again imo (and ymmv of course).

Perhaps it can be agreed upon that having a couple spend some time before marriage delving into important issues is generally better than rushing into it.  And that by itself, such preparation is probably not sufficient to sustaining a wonderful marriage, but rather what is required is ongoing energy and attention to it.

All the best,
Arnie
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 18, 2007 - 11:48PM #10
qtbabe
Posts: 823

ladyalice wrote:


Those of you who have partaken in a church based marriage prep program, did you find it to be helpful?



Hello Ladyaclice,

I've been married for 16 yrs and truly don't believe anything that can prepare us for a marriage.  However, I believe that marriage prep progam would be a great idea. Here are my suggestions, the book was written by Dr. Robin L Smith "Lies At The Altar", in this book she also listed out 269 questions which you can work with your S/O (It'd be a fun thing to do it with your partner.  I did that with my husband after 15yrs of marriage, suprisingly I've learned a lot from those questions and understood my husband much better, and also figured out the reasons why he did what he did ).  The second book is " Relationships" was written by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot.  This book also has the workbook with it.  After finnishing these two books, I wished that I've read them before I got married.  Hope they'll help you some way......

Wish you the best
QT:)

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