Prep course for marriage: Learn rules of the game
Mumbai: With marriages today falling apart because of trivial issues, the Catholic Church has become more careful on making the couples do a marriage preparatory course before the couple enters into the holy sacrament of matrimony.
The couple is asked to do this course at least six months prior to their marriage and the documentation work of their marriage cannot go ahead until they have completed this course. A few of the topics that are spoken about at the preparatory course include marriage being a sacrament, handling differences and conflicts, how to handle finances, intimacy and first pregnancy, abortion and marriage procedures and the documentation work that goes in it.
Snehalaya Family Service Center at Mahim is the place where all young couples in Mumbai, who intend to get married, have to go in order to register for the course. But in order to make life easy of the couples in Navi Mumbai, the same course has been started in the satellite city that too with the consent of the center and its director Fr Cajetan Menezes.
Fr John Barretto, the parish priest of Holy Spirit Shurch, Kalamboli is a key element of these marriage preparatory courses that are conducted in Vashi at Scared Heart Church. Besides, there are also trained couples and doctors who are the resource people and help in taking the course ahead.
The resource people who conduct the marriage preparatory course are first trained well by the priests at Snehalaya. They are even made to conduct a mock session in front of the priest so as to check if they were up to the mark as per what is expected.
Fr Barretto actually gives a very clear and crisp picture about why these courses are conducted and the main reason behind having it spread over a period of almost 2-3 days and that too from 9 am till 5 pm. He says, "In today's world any relationship is bound to have its own ups and down. Couples through this course are made to understand that marriage is a huge responsibility. Besides, they also need to know that they both share an equal part in this sacrament. Even in cases where a catholic is marrying a person from another caste and would like to marry in the church they have to do this marriage preparatory course. This is the first step of the marriage and one of the first documents that the priest will ask you about."
Although in the previous years this course was not a compulsion but these days the church entertains no kind of excuse from the couple and despite their (couples) heavy and hectic schedules, they are made to remove time for it.
"Everyone is a different human being and so differences are bound to be there, here at this course we explain to couples how to handle these differences and accept each other. Aspects such as bringing up children according to the Christian values and natural family planning are also touched upon. We have seen cases where couples have delayed their marriages after doing the course, because they realized that they were not ready for this holy sacrament yet. Also because they felt that they two are extremely different kinds of people and look at the concept of marriage very differently," says Fr Barretto.
Sacred Heart Church conducts this course only in English and the people who are more comfortable in doing these courses in languages like Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam and Gujarati are asked to go to Snehalaya itself where the preparatory sessions are conducted in different languages.
There have been enquires from many non-catholic couples also who are keenly interested in attending this marriage preparatory course. Priests say that the different topics that are taught during the marriage preparatory course are the key element that interests them (the young couples) probably.
Fr Tony Thomas Kakkassery from St George Church in Panvel considers this course a very important part of a catholic marriage. "Attending the marriage preparatory course makes a real difference for the young couple.
Many people are seen giving more importance to matters like career and ambitions, and at such times aspects like family life almost gets a back seat. Media and movies most of the time do not show a right picture of the concept of marriage and people get influenced by this heavily.
At the preparatory course, the couple is shown a lucid picture about what lies ahead for them in their marriage and how are they supposed to deal with it." Many times the marriage preparatory course also has doctors and psychologists who are seen imparting practical knowledge on issues like the difference between men and women and how the couple should cope up with the tough situations in life.
Besides marriage preparatory course, there is also an engaged encounter course wherein the couple has to go for a residential retreat in Bandra since that does not take place anywhere in Navi Mumbai.