The Best Way to Prepare for Marriage

Last night was bittersweet. Over a special evening that included a delicious dinner and fabulous fellowship, Sidney and I completed our Pre-Cana classes. It was sweet in the fact that we finished a major step in the process that will lead to our wedding at St. Andrew Catholic Church on June 11. It was bitter because it marked the end of our formal relationship with Tim and Kathy McCormick, our incredible sponsor couple.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick, last night.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick, last night.

The Catholic Church, along with other churches as well, require that engaged couples go through marriage prep before tying the knot in a church-sanctioned ceremony. For Catholics, a main portion of this preparation is Pre-Cana, or, in non-Catholic terms, marriage counseling. At some churches, the priest or a parish employee will administer the counseling. At St. Andrew, married couples provide it.

For six weeks, Sidney and I went to the McCormick’s home for counseling sessions. These meetings were structured by a Pre-Cana workbook that Sidney and I each received. We would read the material and answer questions corresponding to the chapters we would cover that week. We would then sit down at Tim and Kathy’s kitchen table and go over the material. Topics we discussed ranged from prayer to problem solving to sexuality to money to traditions to family planning. To have the opportunity to discuss these prominent aspects of marriage with such a strong and seasoned couple was invaluable.

A look at my Pre-Cana workbook I used these past six weeks.

A look at my Pre-Cana workbook I used these past six weeks.

But we got so much more out of the past six weeks besides the scripted lessons. Each time we arrived at the household, Tim and Kathy warmly welcomed us. They set out snacks on the table. They discussed our days with us. Sid would talk to Kathy about classroom issues (both work at schools) and Tim and I would talk sports. We would swap stories. We would all give updates on our own families. It was such an enjoyable time as both Sid and I looked forward to each Tuesday evening.

Sitting down with a proven, fruitful couple that has been married for over three decades was a wonderful experience for Sid and I. While we both have parents that have also lived out beautiful marriages of similar lengths, it is different when the couple isn’t your blood. You just observe different things and ask different questions. Along with the examples that my mom and dad and Sid’s mom and dad have set for us, the McCormicks will be the other powerful marriage that we look to for inspiration and guidance once we begin our own journey.

Tim and Kathy made us these tags that they placed at our spots at the kitchen table.

Tim and Kathy made us these tags that they placed at our spots at the kitchen table.

I started this post talking about the incredibly nice evening we shared last night. To be technical, our counseling actually ended last week. However, Tim and Kathy wanted to have us over for an evening that wasn’t tied to book chapters and discussion questions. The couple rolled out the red carpet for us as not only did they cook a wonderful meal but they also took great care in setting the table. We talked casually and freely about several topics, including the lighter parts of our wedding such as the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. It was the perfect way to end our six weeks together.

This was how the McCormick's set the table for us last night.

This was how the McCormick’s set the table for us last night.

To those engaged couples who might have two or three different options when it comes to fulfilling their Pre-Cana requirements, I strongly encourage electing to work with a sponsor couple. You will get a lot out of it. Sidney and I can’t thank Tim and Kathy enough. We respect both of you greatly and admire how you have let God play such a large role in your marriage. Know that a wedding invite will be coming your way as we can’t wait to introduce you to our parents. Don’t Blink.

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