Monday, August 31, 2009

The Catholic Marriage Preparation Course

All in all, it was better than I expected. There were aspects that were inspirational and irritating. Taken in context of it being a Catholic marriage course, it was far more liberal than I would have ever anticipated.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the courses pros and cons:

 CONS
  • The entire conversation about living together before marriage and the arguments that couples who live together take longer to get married and statistically are more likely to separate. I won’t go into the details (cause it would be a long rant) but suffice to say that statistics can be manipulated to prove pretty much anything and that, um hello; you’re preaching to the choir… we were all there because we’re getting married! (most of us in less than 6 weeks)
  • The anti-abortion/birth control stance. Taking the pill isn’t an acceptable form of birth control because low grade estrogen pills essentially work by preventing an embryo from attaching to the uterus’ wall, thus technically being an abortion in the eyes of the church. I get that the church is against abortions, I do. But it rubs the wrong way. It really, really does.
  • That children, or being open to children, is such an integral part of what marriage means to the church. It accepts infertility but not the choice to remain child-free.
  • The pre-marital sex talk. Seriously. Its fine to talk about the hyper-sexualisation of our society and how we need to bring the sacred back into the act, but enough is enough. The room was full of people, some of whom already had kids together.
  • And seriously, if they mentioned pornography as an addiction/sin one more time, I was going to scream. I get it. Looking at porn creates false sexual expectations; it objectifies, and takes away from the quality time in a relationship. But only 2 speakers out of 10 DIDN’T mention it. What about when porn can actually be beneficial to a couple?

PROS
  • Really focuses on teaching both members of the couple that marriage was about doing the work and making sacrifices for each other in order to grow together (I know what there’s a knee jerk reaction to the word sacrifice, but they really did a nice job of making the idea real and very positive. I was very inspired by this particular aspect of the course).
  • Reinforcing that sexual fertility/prevention was the responsibility of both partners. Obviously the church is against condoms and birth control but in the discussions about family planning (using charting methods), they really reinforced that by having to have the discussion about whether we can or can’t have sex at this point in time, that both couples become accountable for fertility. Now in theory, this may have some loopholes and drawbacks to it, but I appreciate the idea that they were trying to teach couples that it isn’t solely a female responsibility. And bonus props for discussing (briefly) the environmental impact of contraception and the need to take it into consideration when making our choices.
  • That for all of the stereotypes of Catholics breeding like bunnies, they really emphasized responsible child planning. Having 7 children only works when you have the means and that there is no shame is saying, no, we don’t have the means or space or… [Insert reason] to have another child. And that the woman who was teaching us about charting only has 2 kids after 20 years of marriage. So it wasn’t just all talk!
  • Best of all: that it was nice to be in a room with people in the exact same place (often for the same reason (family pressure) as us) and that it really reinforced our decision and made me really grateful and excited about the choice/step we are taking together.

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