Pre-Cana Experience and Tips
A while back I posted about our experience taking the FOCCUS survey. This past weekend, we completed the last step in order to get married in the Catholic Church by attending Pre-Cana class.
Some of you might be wondering what Pre-Cana is. Before attending, Pre-Cana was always a mystery to us and a lot of other couples we know who have gone through it. According to Wikipedia:
Pre-Cana is a course or consultation Catholic couples must undergo before they can be married in a Catholic church. The name is derived from John 2:1-12, the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine.
Approaches to Pre-Cana vary among Catholic dioceses and parishes. Often six weekly sessions will be led by a priest or deacon with support from a married Catholic couple. Common topic include: compatibility of the couple, basic principles of Catholic marriage and family life (namely theological meaning of marriage), conflict resolution within marriage, rules the couple is accepting to follow (including, but not limited to, natural family planning).
Now that you have the Wikipedia definition, I’ll tell you a little about our experience.
We arrived at the church at 9:00 AM, and the first order of business was to fill out our information cards and name tags. (We’d have paid at that time if we hadn’t already paid online.) There was a booklet for each couple at the table when we sat down. After everyone was settled, the facilitators, a couple that had been married for over 20 years, explained how we would spend the day.
Our first exercise was finding our name tags, since after writing our names down they had collected these from us. They passed them out to other attendees, and everyone was supposed to find their name tag. Not sure how this related to getting married, but I think they were just trying to break the ice.
Next, we started going through the booklet. There were doubles of most pages within the book, one for him and one for her. We were instructed to fill out the first pages and discuss. These pages consisted of writing down the top three events and people in your life, as well as a few other questions. We filled out the pages and discussed them with each other. No big surprises here—we had pretty much the same answers.
Then we had to list the top three things that we thought were important in a successful marriage. We prioritized them within our own list, then with each other, and then with other couples at our table. Then the whole group compiled a list of the things they thought were important, and of course the group’s list ended up being very large. The facilitators explained that though all of these things are important in a marriage (things like trust, communication, excitement, etc.), they would come together in different quantities throughout different times in the marriage.
The rest of the morning of Pre-Cana was laid out very similarly—filling out a page in the booklet on topics like traits of yourself and your future spouse, methods of good and bad communication, etc.—then sharing between each other, then with the table, then with the whole group.
Before we broke for lunch, we were asked to write a letter to each other about anything we wanted. It was nice to read what the other person said with such an open-ended letter. Mr. M wrote a very sweet letter to me that I think I’ll save to look back on when we’re older!
After lunch, it was more of the same routine. We discussed topics like budgets, intimacy (there was no sharing with the group on this topic), and children. They touched on natural family planning, but since the facilitators were not medical professionals, they did not feel comfortable going into detail. They provided more information for those interested in the form of a booklet and details on a natural family planning class.
One of last topics that we discussed was how we had experienced God’s presence within our lives. It was nice to hear the stories that other people told, but no one was forced to share a story. They simply asked for volunteers.
Before we wrapped up for the day, they ended by having each couple stand up and explain how they met. Though it was nice that they wanted to make each couple feel special by sharing their story, it took forever (there were 42 couples there), and it was awkward sharing with a bunch of people we didn’t know (although I realize I do this via blogging on a daily basis!).
Overall, I must admit that I was a little disappointed with my Pre-Cana experience. I went into it with the feeling that I was only going to get out of it what I put into it. I went with a positive attitude, and even convinced my very unenthusiastic fiance to try to make the best of it. When we got there, I found the topics we discussed to be very predictable, and the discussion associated with each subject was nothing I hadn’t already heard. There was also a TON of time wasted. The class lasted from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Everyone was finished with each exercise within about 10 minutes, and we talked amongst our table for at least 15 minutes between each exercise. We probably could’ve finished before noon if there wasn’t such a lag between exercises.
In hindsight, I wish we would have taken the class in our hometown, where it was $30 rather than $180, and then even if we didn’t get any more out of it than we did here, it wouldn’t have been such a waste of money.
If you attended Pre-Cana, what was your experience like? Did you get more out of it than we did?