Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Pre-Cana, for those of you who are not familiar, is basically marriage prep course or sessions that Catholic couples go through before getting married in the Catholic church. I never thought about this before but the name comes from the old story where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee.

There are quite a few ways that couples go through their Pre-Cana, it depends on your priest, what is offered in your diocese and then sometimes what you choose. Because we are getting married in NY and live in VA our priest said we could do our marriage prep where we live. Some people meet with their priest for 6 weeks or so (with our schedules I don’t think this would ever work but one benefit is really getting to know the priest that will be performing the sacrament of marriage, because I love our priest that is marrying us, I think I would have liked to do this but the cards did not fall that way for us.) Another option for some is a weekend retreat. For me- not my cup of tea. That involved us checking in early Friday afternoon, bunking with people you never met and not leaving until Sunday afternoon. If you are very involved in your church and this is the option for you, I commend you. I, admittedly am a fair-weather churchgoer, and don’t think this is for me. All that said, both FH and I each went through 12+ years of Catholic school so we know our way around a catechism.

Our class was a little different; we went for the all day crunch session – 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Its funny, a lot of people I spoke too scared me to death, I thought it was going to be awful with threats of damnation for cohabitation but it wasn’t that bad. I can’t say it ended up being something I would recommend for fun but it was relatively painless.

The topics they discussed included:
Compatibility & Convictions
Christian Family in the Modern World
Communication Talk
Natural Family Planning

What I liked:
Ok, so Natural Family Planning is their thing. It’s the only thing they endorse. It’s not the NFP that I liked, it was that the couple informing us about this kept saying – “it worked for us, I only ask that you learn more about it.” I have heard from others that they were threatened with damnation for going other routes. I can respect someone telling you that something worked for them and they recommend you look into it. It’s pretty much what we do as bloggers, right? Here’s a site on NFP if you are interested. Not my bag baby but you may think it would be right for you. Its never a bad idea to educate yourself on anything.

What I didn’t like:

The old school defined roles. FH pointed this out to me first. When they discussed communication between men and women they would say things like “Men are interested in sports, women are interested in shopping” “Men like math, women like English”. OK, for us as a couple this happens to true but it really was annoying. Then they also got into roles like “Women do the dishes, men rake the leaves”. All of the couples presenting to us were households where the women stayed home and the man worked, not just the couple that had been married for 40 years but the ones that were married for 4 years also. Um, of the 35 couples at the conference, how many could possibly be in this situation? We live in DC, I can’t imagine the percentage was high. Now- I commend any family that can make this work but it’s definitely not a reality in my house anytime soon. So they would say things like, when your husband comes home from work and you have been cleaning all day and he leaves his jacket in the wrong place, take a minute and think about his day too.
Um- not in my reality, we both work like maniacs and we have a cleaning lady. The dishes are not something we fight about, I would have preferred to hear about how they deal with real issues, not dishes!

OK, done with the diatribe. In summary, we have one more thing off the to-do list! I can’t say our life has changed but I can say that it wasn’t that bad. I think they need to update their program a tad (I am not criticizing them about their beliefs- not my position to do that - just slight critcism on how they need to realize that couples have less defined roles in this day and age) and I think its good to know what your church believes if you choose to use them to marry you!

What kind of prep have you guys gone through? What did you think?


AmyJean said...


Yeah, i told my man, i don't mind doing the household chores etc, and i'd solely do them, if he'd solely bring home the bacon... and until then, we share duties and we try to do it in a way that is least miserable for both. You know... if you want to be traditional, well then tradition would say ... men bring home the bacon, but b/c in this day and age, us women have careers, lives, and etc... so why shouldn't men do some of the "girly" chores as well ... I'm all for it! :)

Congrats on one more thing to check off :)

Adrienne said...

I am glad to hear how yours went. we have our first of three NFP classes starting next week, then we have a retreat weekend, then a couple sessions at someone's home. I am TOTALLY with you on the roles thing, and if they get into that with us I can see myself getting upset over it, that just isn't how it works for us. It's crazy to thing they even still teach that way, but oh well. I am glad you were able to see the good in the class, I will be sure to post about my experiences!

Mrs. in May said...

Well, let me say, they weren't teaching the roles at all. It was most how they were describing situations. As if everyone just falls into these roles. I didn't even pick up on it at first, but when FH mentioned it to me that it was driving him nuts I started to realize it. So, they weren't telling you the woman should do this and the man should do that, it was more like they assumed that was the way it was.

Mrs. in May said...

Amy, where in DC do you live? I'm a suburban gal living in Alexandria.

Mara (The Wedding Cabaret) said...

We did pre-martial sessions as well! Loved it! I reccomend that every couple do it! It's better to get counseling before you're wed then after! lol :o)

Authentically U - Bride said...

Were starting our this months. They are one on one coffee house meeting and will probably last about 6 months. Technically, we are not allowed to set a date until we are finished with the counseling. However, due to the nature of our situation (getting married on my parents 30th wedding anniversary) the pastor kinda knows we have a date, we just can't put down any deposits or anything.

Cyd said...

I skimmed through this last week, but just had the chance to come back and read it in full. M and I were both Catholic-raised, but opted not to have a Catholic wedding for numerous reasons so I really love having the chance to get your insight. M, for one, was opposed to the whole pre-Cana thing and I'm definitely wary of NFP discussions, but I agree with you...it never ever hurts to talk out issues as a couple and to educate yourself on other options, other possibilities.

Maria H. said...

We're doing a destination wedding in August, but want to take the pre-cana classes here in DC. We, FH and I, live in different cities, so I'm looking for a full day option... so much convenient!!
Where did you take your pre-Cana session?

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh- desperately looking for a one-day pre-cana in DC due to my crazy work/remote wedding planning work schedule. If you still check your blog and get this, please email where you went. thanks! kaitlin.mccolgan@gmail.com

Melissa M. said...

We have searched and searched for the one day pre-cana sessions but no luck! We live in Fairfax but willing to go anywhere to have a one day session!! Please if someone could tell me where they went e-mail me: melissa.masserant@hotmail.com.

Mrs. in May what type of Communications are you in? I'm also a Comm. person I'm actually looking to teach at a university near by. I was teaching in Michigan then we moved here because my fiance is going for a second degree.