The marriage preparation course held prior to any marriage rites held in the Catholic church highlights the core elements of a healthy relationship and concentrates on exploring these elements in the company of other couples preparing for marriage. The course offers practical information on how to achieve personal, couple and family goals.

Some of these elements include:

Ceremony planning

Many couples wonder what is allowed in a Catholic marriage ceremony. Sometimes, they wonder how to plan this most important part of the wedding. The teacher answers commonly asked questions about wedding planning. He/she explains the rules and traditions behind the answers. Questions are also answered about interfaith marriage, whether to have a full mass or ceremony, destination weddings, the involvement of non-Catholics, the number of the bridal party, music and more.

The spirituality of the marriage

You are invited to let God work in your relationship as an engaged couple, and for the rest of your life as husband and wife. The teacher in this class compares the stages of married life to Jesus’ Transfiguration, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. He/she gives ideas about how your marriage vows can mean more to you as you grow in the understanding that there is more at work in your lives than just each other.

Family of Origin

Congratulations! You will soon be married to your future spouse… and to the parents, siblings, traditions, and expectations of this person’s family!. The influence of the family of origin remains a part of who your future spouse is now, and who they will be when you are married. The same concept applies to you and the role your family will play in your married life. The teacher will then share personal stories and give you ideas for discussion. Questions like which traditions were important to you when you were growing up that you wish to continue with the family you create with your spouse? Do you two share the same faith? How will your religious beliefs be honored as a married couple? How do you define the roles of husband and wife, man and woman as they relate to your involvement and interaction with one another? will be answered within this session.

Communication

Relationships are all about communication. Happy, healthy marriages require frequent and honest communication between husband and wife. This life skill is among the most important, requiring a commitment to keep learning more effective ways to relate to one another. This segment provides suggestions and experiences on topics such as: verbal and non-verbal communication methods, listening skills, sharing emotions, being assertive, and the differences between the way men and women communicate.

Conflict management

Studies have shown that one of the biggest predictors of divorce is the avoidance of conflict and it is for this purpose that the Catholic church includes it in her marriage course classes. Marriages that succeed and marriages that fail have about the same level of disagreements; the difference is in the way that conflict is handled. In this segment, you will get ideas for handling conflict in a positive manner and the steps to forgiveness.

Marriage as a sacrament

For couples planning to be married in the Catholic Church, it is important to understand and reflect upon the deeper meaning of marriage. You are not just preparing for an unforgettable wedding day; you are entering into a relationship with your future husband or wife and with God that is a permanent faithful union rooted in Scripture. Marriage is a vocation that responds to God’s call to holiness and echoes the relationship between God and his love for his Church. It is more than a legal contract, it is a covenant and a sacrament. Your marriage will be strengthened by grace from God.

Natural family planning

This segment explores the Catholic Church’s teaching of marriage and procreation and how Natural Family Planning can be used as a scientific method of spacing or achieving pregnancy while staying consistent with Church teaching on the sanctity of life.

Children

For some couples, having children is the last thing on their minds as they plan for their marriage. Others may be planning to start a family right away or may bring children into the marriage. It is important to talk about parenthood at this stage. By learning one another s’ expectations for having children and parental styles, you will grow in your understanding of your spouse and the parent of your children. You will be invited to discuss issues including: when the right time to have children is, when and how many you want, and what you will do if things do not go as you planned.

Finances

Finances can be a tricky topic. Couples come into marriage with different ideas of how to handle money, and what worked for your parents may not work for you. A certified financial planner will be invited in this class, to help guide you on the important topics you need to discuss: attitudes about spending, saving, and stewardship; previous debt, separate or joint accounts, budgeting, and how to discuss this safely in a loving environment to make sure your finances are a glue for your marriage, not a buster.

Couples Prayer

One way to have a happy, healthy, and holy marriage is to learn to pray together. The presenters share their personal stories with you and offer ideas for praying together to strengthen your bond as a married couple. It is a common saying in the Catholic Church that a family that prays together, stays together.

See also: why Marriage is important in the Catholic Church.

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