27 May 2007

Marriage Prep, Los Angeles Style

I promised to keep the few people who read this blog updated on the wedding plans, specifically what it's like to plan a Catholic wedding in Los Angeles.

My fiance and I attended the day-long marriage prep class at my parish a couple of weeks ago. Apparently we are required to do eight hours, and we do them all at one go.

The morning was devoted to a lecture on communication, given by a psychiatrist or psychologist or something (they're all the same to me so I never bother to note who is which). At various intervals we were asked to talk to each other, or to "share" with the other couples sitting at our table (there were about thirty couples in the class, three or four couples to a table). This all became an excercise more of observing other people than of doing anything for my fiance and I. My fiance is the sensitive type of man who is ok with talking about his feelings, and he is also talkative. If something is on his mind, he tells me. Me, I learned ages ago that I couldn't expect him to read my mind and I had to tell him things. If we have a disagreement, we hash it out in a fairly rational manner without raised voices, and it almost always comes down to a misunderstanding--semantics. Only twice in four years have I ever gone to bed angry. We largely felt this lecture to be useless for us, though probably helpful for other people.

The next thing on the program was titled "Spirituality in Marriage" and the lecture was delivered by Father B., a Paulist priest from my parish. We thought it would be about spirituality as a married couple, and were looking forward to the talk, because that is an issue we haven't read much about and are interested in knowing more about.

Unfortunately, it was an hour-long lecture on the wedding itself. Again, useful for other folks, not useful for us, the talkative and liturgy-obsessed couple. I was glad Father B. said that they don't approve of the "bride given away by her father" order of procession, and explained the reasons why. I'll explain in another post, if anyone is curious. I'm sure you can figure out the societal reasons, but there are religious reasons too. Anyway, we were disappointed in the talk.

There were two hand-outs on NFP in our folders, but no one ever really mentioned sexuality at all.

The final lecture was given by a retired professor of economics. My dad, who was a business manager of a school district, snorted when I told him that. The professor of economics got married in the late 1950s, and I think he hasn't changed his view of family finances since then. Needless to say, what worked for a family with one parent working outside the home and only one car in an age before most people went on business trips is not going to work for a two-profession couple both of whom must travel at least a couple of times a year to conferences and such. I refer mainly to the professor's advice that couples have only one checkbook, and share a credit card. I sort of understand his reasoning, but it is completely impractical. His advice on saving money, especially when grocery shopping, was better. I've already started scanning that coupon booklet that comes in the mail every week for things that I need. I am not going to start shaking cans of different brands of corn in an attempt to determine which actually has more corn in it, although I might actually weigh the ten pound bag of potatoes to make sure it weighs ten pounds. When I start buying bags of potatoes, that is.

At the end, we went off in smaller groups, about five couples per group, each with an older couple from the parish. We each introduced our partner, and told how we met, what we liked about the other person, and what we learned that day. It wasn't as sappy as it sounds.

All in all, there was nothing objectionable about the experience. We were disappointed that there wasn't more, though. Less on communication and finances and more on Church teaching about...everything...would have been a big improvement.

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