Catholic Adventures: Pre-Cana

Mr. Pudding and I completed our Pre-Cana classes this Sunday. We opted not to do the weekend long “Engaged Encounter”, and went to classes on Thursdays and Sundays for two weeks instead. Although we were both a little hesitant about the classes (Mr. P in particular), we actually thought them to be quite enjoyable.

Our sessions were mostly centered around group discussions. They were monitored by five married couples who took us through the material by sharing their personal experiences. We were often asked to share our thoughts with a small group, and than with the whole class. The questions up for discussion ranged from “what values do you and your partner have in common” and “how will you ensure that your marriage is a spiritually healthy one” to “how comfortable are you discussing sexuality with your partner”.



Although I was surprised by the very tolerant attitude that the presenters had when it came to sexuality (several of the couples with us had kids, and this was not frowned upon in any way), I was mostly uncomfortable with the discussion. And so were the presenters. We spent about 45 minutes talking about ways to be “intimate” without having sex, and than got a lecture on how to figure out whether or not a woman is fertile based on her “mucous levels”. I kid you not.

All in all though, it was really nice to sit down with other couples and discuss issues that are important to us. Mr. Pudding and I do not have very many married friends, so it was refreshing to talk with people that were on the same page as us. We also did this activity called “The Family Altar”, during which each pair was asked to bring in a symbol of their relationship and share with the group. I loved hearing everyone’s stories, and was touched by the amount of love that was in that room.

Did you take Pre-Cana classes? What were your favorite and least favorite parts?


Mrs. Pudding

Greater Toronto Area/Vermont
Wedding Date:
July 2010
Two Across, One Down
It Happened on a Sunday: All the Pretty Things
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  1. Member
    krissybee 3921 posts, Honey bee @ 4:51 pm

    we haven’t taken our classes yet… not sure if we will do the weekend or weekly classes either. Sounds like you had a great experience with it though (minus the mucous maybe?? ha), and def makes me look forward to it more and not be as nervous about it 😀

  2. Member
    rawrkitty1022 516 posts, Busy bee @ 5:00 pm

    Wow! Yours sounds VERY different than ours! Granted, we did the engaged encounter weekend, but we didn’t really have a NFP discussion. Our intimacy and sexuality discussion wasn’t awkward at all and there was only one time where we had group discussion with the other couples there. The rest of the time it was private conversations with your fiance after the presenting couples shared their stories and discussed the topic with us as a large group. We did A TON (A TON!!!) of writing, but it was really nice to spend time with other engaged couples since we don’t have a whole lot of married friends either. I think we both got some good stuff out of it, though my fiance was skeptical at first too.

  3. deviledegg Member
    deviledegg 1250 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:01 pm

    Our premarital classes never got quite that personal. (thank goodness!) I can imagine how awkward that would be! We did get a lot of benefit from it. I’m glad our church provided a class.

  4. pudding Member
    pudding 1183 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:08 pm

    @rawrkitty1022: I think that that just goes to show that each church is different, and experiences at pre-cana can be varied. I think that overall it is a great resource to get some difficut conversations started between you and your partner :)

    @krissybee: Don’t be nervous, but do be open minded!

    @Mrs. Deviled Egg: I’m also glad that we had the chance to participate. We both got a lot out of it!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Leah, Guest @ 5:09 pm

    Our precana classes were much more personal. We listened to the presenters as a group, but all discussions were just between the two of us. I’m really glad … my fiance isn’t catholic and I think he would have been really uncomfortable discussing spirituality with a group of people he doesn’t know! We also talked NFP, but again didn’t have to share anything … so it wasn’t too awkward.

  6. Member
    Miss Sox in the City 285 posts, Helper bee @ 5:27 pm

    I loved our pre-cana class. Ours was like Leah’s: , in the sense that we would listen to a couple present on a certain topic [finances, relationships, etc.] then do a worksheet together. We didn’t have to share with anyone else, so it was actually a nice intimate time to actually feel like we were going to be married, not just having a wedding.

    The priest, of course, had to be the one to talk about intimacy and sex. Definitely awkward for the first discussion of the day.

  7. pretzel Member
    pretzel 670 posts, Busy bee @ 5:33 pm

    We did the Engaged Encounter and loved it. The foucs was much more between you as a couple and less or little group discussion. I really wish that there was a better way to do the “intro to NFP” without turning people off completely though. If you just launch into discussions of cervical mucas most people usually shut down.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    An Huynh, Guest @ 5:35 pm

    We did the Evenings for the Engaged (might just be our Diocese – San Diego) so it was 6 weeks of meeting every Thursday night. We loved it! It was very thought provoking and we did do all group discussions. It was great hearing other peoples stories, obstacles and love – what I enjoyed the most was hearing my Fiancé describe our relationship… we talk a lot normally but hearing him express our love and relationship aspects to others (especially how appreciative and grateful he is) was so sweet. The one day that we did discuss sexuality was VERY awkward 😛 but the married couple that hosted the meetings warned us that it would be beforehand and we all kind of laughed it off… other than that, we loved it and honestly, I’m kind of bummed it’s over :-/ … I agree that it is really nice being with a group of people on the same page as us… very comforting and helpful! :)

  9. Member
    kayakgirl73 2593 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:25 pm

    We did the Engaged Encounter Weekend. I really liked it. (Diocese of Arlington, VA). In ours the leader couples presented and then we had individual discussions with our FI. No group sharing and just a brief overview of NFP.

  10. Member
    IvyClimb 2612 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:03 pm

    Interesting to hear about your experience. I have never heard much detail about exactly what goes on in pre-cana. Our marriage prep course, which was a completely optional five-evening class held at my non-denominational church, contained almost zero conversation with other couples or group leaders beyond the “Hi how are you” at the beginning of the evening. After that it was all quiet, private discussion between my FI and I during each of the 5-15 minute conversation exercises. I loved it that way since we were able to open up to each other about the challenging topics we covered. I’m so glad we did it: there’s a lot of solid groundwork to lay and maintain in order to keep a marriage alive for decades to come.

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Eva, Guest @ 9:18 pm

    We just had our Engaged Encounter this past weekend. We loved it! It was very couples-oriented; there was very little group sharing. It brought us so much closer together. Before going, I didn’t see the point; we were getting married BECAUSE we communicate well and have talked about all the recommended topics that you read about, but it was so worthwhile! I can’t emphasize how beneficial it was. They did mention NFP because one of the presenting couples practiced it, but they didn’t try to “sell” it. At the end of one of the days, they did an informal informational session for couples who were interested in learning more; I was surprised by what I learned, definitely worth looking into. The only drawback was the prison-like cubicles. Even with earplugs it was hard to block out the snoring, and the beds were really uncomfortable; my back is still recovering.

  12. Member
    eimersc 234 posts, Helper bee @ 9:27 pm

    Headed there this weekend! And I think they just do a presentation about NFP and then you have the option to go to a more detailed class.

  13. thimble Member
    thimble 857 posts, Busy bee @ 10:28 pm

    Our one weekend pre-cana was like @leah’s and @littlestbirds’ experiences. We had key speakers on a topic (although whether they talked about what we were told they would was debatable). Then we filled out questions and then wandered around the church ground to find a quiet place to talk about our answers as a couple. We took pre-cana a year ago already because our priest said the sooner the better- I guess I’m glad it’s done with but it seemed nutty. No talk of mucus levels and rhythm method thank goodness.

  14. Member
    Serendipity 10356 posts, Sugar Beekeeper @ 10:47 pm

    We also did a couple of classes vs. doing the weekend retreat. We were really worried about it, but we were both actually really surprised with our how much we learned.

  15. Member
    mebless 512 posts, Busy bee @ 11:57 pm

    We have to go to the Engaged Encounter weekend, and then go to a different 8hr seminar/class on NFP. I’m hoping there won’t be a lot of group discussions b/c I’m not one to spill my innermost feelings with a group of strangers. When we filled out our questionaire I was kind of amazed at how much my fiance and I have talked about all sorts of different issues. We are very open and talk about these types of issues alot! (But we also dated for 7.5 years before getting engaged)

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Eva, Guest @ 1:59 pm

    For anyone that’s interested, NFP is not the same as the rhythm method. That’s what I thought too! As it was explained to us, the rhythm method is based on an average woman’s cycle, but each woman is different, so it’s not always accurate if you don’t fit into the average. NFP is based on your own body temerature and mucus levels, so it’s more fool-proof. As with any form of birth control, if you don’t use it correctly, you increase your chances of pregnancy.

    I’ve never liked to take chances with pregnancy, so I’ve been on the pill for years AND we use condoms, but I was really surprised by what I learned. I definitely want to learn more. Something that stood out to me about NFP was how much closer it has brought the couple that talked about it. I know it’s not for everyone, but I know I was surprised that it was different than the rhythm method and now want to learn more.

  17. Member
    jedeve 1079 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:33 pm

    We really enjoyed our Pre-Cana. Well, the engaged encounter part. We’re meeting with the our sponsor couple to the FOCCUS test tonight! The only awkward part for us was when they read the anonymous questions people had written.

  18. Member
    GingerCurls 177 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:37 pm

    Oh gosh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who had a more than interesting experience, and well you know all about it 😉 My fiance actually drew that comic that you linked to!!

    Small world, small world. :)

    I told him not to snoop around too much on the site because I do have a picture of my dress on here!

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Vin, Guest @ 10:41 am

    I have my pre-cana coming up and to be honest I think it’s wrong that we even have to do this. I think my donation to the church, organist and flowers should be enough. I shouldn’t be subjected to giving MORE of my money to have people go over my relationship. It’s an inconvenience and as far as I’m concerned it’s just another money making scam which angers me. I’m thinking of skipping mine and saying I’ll do it after I’m married and never go (It’s not like they can un-marry us). Ugh this stuff just get’s under my skin and from what I’m reading here people don’t seem to mind talking about their intimacy with strangers. Really? If I wanted counseling I’d go pay for it and god willing we wont need it so why am I doing it before marriage against my will?

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    To be honest..., Guest @ 10:35 am

    @Vin: to be honest… you do realize you’re free to get married outside of the Church, right? The reason the Catholic Church makes it so complicated is because we don’t believe in divorce. So they make you jump through hoops to make sure that this is what you both want and that it falls within Christian beliefs. In addition, in the Catholic Church, marriage isn’t just a legal license – it’s a Sacrament just like Communion, Reconsiliation and Confirmation etc. There’s much more to it. If you don’t believe these things… why are you even getting married in the Church? You can have a beautiful civil ceremony with a minister outside of the Church (even in a chapel to get the church feel…) Quite frankly, any Preist would tell you that if you truly feel the Marriage Preparation Program is “against your will” as you said, they would tell you this isn’t for you… why do it if you don’t want it??

  21. Guest Icon Guest
    Roger good, Guest @ 7:12 am

    Pre-cana is nothing but a joke run by marriage counselor wanna-bees. I would rather have my finger nails pulled out than go toone of these. It was touchy feely, huggs and kisses. Yuck! It was the worst day of my life. The leaders at our session were totally out of touch with reality. What a total joke. It is easier to get married in Baptist church, then have your marriage approved by the Catholic Church, than get married in the Catholic Church. Foccus is nothing but another money maker for the church instead of having another bake sale or fish fry.

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