From the Desk of Fr. Eugene

What are the benefits or impact of marriage preparation?  Here are the top conclusions of a nation-wide study done by The Center for Marriage and Family.

1. The vast majority of individuals who participated in marriage preparation programs view the experience as valuable early in their marriage. 93.8% of respondents in their first year of marriage agree that marriage preparation was a valuable experience; 74.8% in their second year offer the same judgment. Overall, almost two-thirds (66.3%) perceive marriage preparation as a valuable experience, 26.6% of them as a very valuable experience. The other third (33.8%) perceive it as less than valuable, 8.2% of them strongly.

2. The perceived value of marriage preparation declines significantly over time. Is it simply that memory fades? Is it that the benefits erode with time? Is it that marriage preparation prepares couples for the tasks they face early in their marriages, but not for the tasks they face later? If the last is the case, and we hypothesize that it is, it indicates the need for booster programs throughout the various developmental stages of a marriage.

3. Marriage preparation is judged most valuable when it is done by a team of clergy, lay couples and parish staff. Clergy working alone with a couple is currently the most common format for marriage preparation, but couples judged this format significantly less valuable than a team format. Their commentary was interesting, if predictable: "Priests who don't marry . . . just don't know what marriage is really like." A team approach which does not include a clergy representative, however, was also judged less valuable than a team with a clergy member.

4. The topics addressed in marriage preparation that were perceived as being of most value were the five Cs: communication, commitment, conflict resolution, children and church (values and sacramentality). A sixth C, career and especially dual career, was among topics perceived as least helpfully covered. This suggests enhancing all six Cs to the maximum, and especially the dual career marriage which is currently so prevalent.


God bless,

Fr. Eugene


     A question that seems to come up often in marriage preparation is, “Why is the Catholic Church against us living together before being married?” 

This is a question that seems to be asked often.  Many couples believe that it allows them to get to know each other better and know what it will be like to live with their future spouse before they are married.  Studies show that couples who live together before marriage have a greater chance of divorce (33 % greater chance of divorce) than those who don’t live together before marriage.  One of the obvious reasons for not moving in together before marriage is that it is much harder to break off a relationship that has gone wrong when your living together versus not living together.  Another reason for the higher divorce rate is the ability for sexually intimacy to bind couples together emotionally.  The months and years spent prior to one’s marriage should be a time of serious discernment.  By having sex during this courtship period, couples hinder their ability to look at each other clearly and objectively.  A third reason for higher divorce is that cohabiting undermines commitment.  If a partner finds enough faults in the other, he or she is free to leave.  The desire to enter a ‘test run’ shows a lack of faith in one’s love for each other.  On one hand, the couple is saying that they desire complete intimacy, but on the other hand they want to leave a way out if their partner does not measure up.  This sows seeds of doubt and distrust from the start.  Also, studies show that couples who cohabitate before marriage have a greater chance of marital conflict, domestic abuse, and be less sexually satisfied.  If one is living together, they should consider cease living together until they marry.

     Now with this all said, “Can couples who live together and have successful and happy marriages?”  The answer is yes they can and do.  I usually also comment that to the cohabitating couple who are getting married that I am glad you are making things right with God.  However, there are greater risks with cohabitation and studies show this by secular institutions just as Christian organizations.   


God bless,

Fr. Eugene

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