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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:00 pm
Laurie_86 Laurie_86 is offline
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Join Date: September 1, 2008
Posts: 117
Religion: Converted from Protestant to Catholic
Question Long distance premarital counseling

My fiance lives in Albuquerque while I live in Dallas so we're trying to find an alternative to face-to-face premarital counseling that still keeps with church teaching. Plane tickets are not cheap and the drive is a pain after Lubbock cause it's all flat, dry, and long! lol

I am moving out there in June and we're hoping to get married in Albuquerque this July or August with a small wedding of just immediate family. So premarital counseling in person probably won't work. How long does traditional counseling usually take? Would priests do premarital counseling over the phone?

I've also heard a little about the Catholic Engagement Encounter and noticed there is one offered in the area. I'd love some feedback from people who have either experienced the retreat (or just those who have really good opinions about it I'd love to hear yours too)! Do you think it is effective in marriage preparation? How much can you really cover in two days?

I'm doing student teaching this spring and he is a teacher as well so it is hard for either of us to travel much or get time off. Summer is the best time for us to get married and we honestly don't want to wait until summer 2010 just so we can have face-to-face premarital counseling. We want to spend our lives together so waiting almost two years to get married feels so long to wait. We both know premarital counseling of some kind is important even if you think you are effective at communicating so we don't want to skip it, but distance is a big factor.

We also want to get married this summer because I am moving out there right after graduation hoping to get a teaching job with very little money while my fiance currently has a steady income and a roommate to share costs. He knows how much of financial strain it will be especially if I am unable to get a teaching job and wants to help me out as best he can, but he can't if we both have apartments, car insurance, bills, etc. that are separate. Knowing that we could rely on his salary a bit more if my job is not as high paying puts us both much more at peace.

Also seeing as we are having only immediate family at the wedding (majority of which are Protestant on my side and won't be receiving the Eucharist anyways) have you ever heard of churches allowing Nuptial Masses on Fridays or Thursdays? I know Saturday is a popular day to get married...but since we're breaking so many other traditions who says it has to be a Saturday?

Thanks for the help!!
Married to DH since June 20, 2009
Baby Sam became an angel October 2009

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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:10 pm
pamnbam pamnbam is offline
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

We did Engaged Encounter before we got married, and I thought it was a good experience. We did cover a lot in a weekend, but a lot of the time is spent thinking and writing about certain topics on your own. It's a worthwhile way to get to know each other, and it's very religious. I recommend it if you're thinking of going.

Tiber Swim Team, Class of '03
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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:13 pm
jrabs jrabs is offline
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Posts: 11,438
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

Congrats on your engagement. Also welcome to the forum.

Have your fiance call the priest and have this conversation with him. He may work with your schedule once you move there in June and fit you in - as long as he knows and there is room in his schedule. It's worth the call.

As for a weekday wedding? Ask your priest. He may be flexible.

As an aside - the size of the wedding does not matter in considering the marriage prep. Perhaps I misinterpreted your post. Marriage prep is required to make sure your marriage will be a valid sacramental marriage. In your case, where there is long distance, it is also a super great idea and probably more important due to the limited exposure you both have had as a result of distance.
"Only a general knows how and when to use one of his soldiers. Wait, your turn will come." St. Padre Pio
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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:18 pm
kevinsgirl kevinsgirl is offline
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

Ok, first off I met my DH online (he was on the west coast and I was in the deep south) so we had some of the problems that you describe. What worked best for us, really, was my DH moving to my state and dating and then getting engaged while living in the same town. I realize that this may not be the easiest thing to do for every couple, but I think it's important to be around the person you're going to promise to spend the rest of your life with. While there can be a lot of closeness long distance, I don't think having a long distance engagement (for the most part) is the best thing. Not saying that it won't work out beautifully for you, but what if you move into the same city a month before your wedding and you really notice some things that just don't seem right. It will be very difficult to cancel a wedding without losing all your deposits and preparations, so you might make decisions you aren't comfortable with. Just something you might want to consider...I had a long distance relationship before meeting my DH and it ended badly because the person I was dating was able to conceal things that were dealbreakers because of the distance.

As far as marriage preparation goes, my DH and I did several counseling sessions with our pastor, a couple surveys, and an Engaged Encouter Weekend as well as an NFP class. I suppose you could do a lot of that separately, but I don't think you should. These are your opportunities to discuss some pretty serious stuff together. You need a good marriage prep no matter how ready for marriage you think you are. The time you put into preparing together is important and a reflection of the time you will put into your future marriage.

So I guess what I'm getting at is don't try to cut corners on marriage prep or on spending time together. I am married to a teacher--I know that it can be really hard to get married any other time than summer--but I think you shouldn't put that convenience above a good solid preparation. You are planning for a lifetime together and the better prepared you are for that, the stronger your marriage will be.

And you know--teachers get a lot of time off for Christmas and Easter too, so don't ignore those opportunities!

Good luck!

Missing my 4 babies... 10/07 5/08 5/10 8/10
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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:27 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

First, you need to contact your local priest, set up an appointment and discuss what is required in your diocese. Each diocese has their own program.

You will have to do marriage preparation, and how that is accomplished will be up to your priest.

Here is what DH and I did (me in TX and he in WI):

(1) We chose to be married in my home parish, so I attended the mandatory "informational" meetings with the Family Life director that goes over all the "stuff" related to marriage prep, chruch usage, etc. I took the FOCCUS at that meeting and the Family Life director sent my DH his in the mail, which he completed and returned.

(2) We attended the weekend retreat in DH's diocese (worked better for our schedule) and had the certificate sent to my parish for documentation. My diocese accepted any approved diocesan program.

(3) We attended our sessions with the deacon all on one Saturday instead of spread out over 5 sessions. He was very flexible in working with us. He went over the FOCCUS, all the paperwork, counseling, etc.

(4) I met with the deacon to finalize the ceremony details.

If you want to be married in July, you'd better get in to see the priest ASAP. That is not much time.

It can be done, but you have to be diligent in working with the priest to make it happen. I do not know if any priest will allow you to do everything *completely* by phone.

Bottom line-- it's up to your priest.
Pax, ke

ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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Old Nov 25, '08, 1:32 pm
leahbrahms leahbrahms is offline
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

It sounds like you don't have a date set yet. Have you been working with a priest to prepare for your marriage? There are sacramental records and other paperwork that needs time to be completed. The priest or deacon presiding or assisting with your preparation should be able to tell you what kind of preparation is required in your situation.

I got married in a Catholic church on a Friday... Friday the 13th of June, as a matter of fact! It was my DH's grandmother's wedding anniversary (and the feast of St. Anthony of Padua).

DH and I are trained leaders in our diocesan marriage preparation program. I highly recommend attending something together. We offer Engaged Encounter retreats in this diocese, and though I've never attended one, I know enough to be able to highly recommend them. I believe they're based on the successful Marriage Encounter retreats.

The weekend retreat that we lead is designed to facilitate communication between the bride and groom, so having both there is essential. There are a series of presentations from the married couples and priest leading the retreat, then the engaged couples separate for a period of reflection before couples come together and share privately with one another. This process allows time for each person to communicate in a very focused way that doesn't usually happen day-to-day. It's a wonderful time to just be focused on your relationship and the commitment you are entering into.

In this diocese, couples need to complete this program at least three months prior to the wedding date. One reason is that the retreat also includes opportunity for discernment and reflection on the nature of the sacrament they are entering into. A priest can give permission for the couple to take the program closer to the wedding date, however.

I hope you will be able to attend something together. It's one of the best gifts you can give each other for your marriage... unless it's a program like the ones DH and I had to go through when we were getting married (in another diocese). I admit that those were pretty worthless! All about who does what chores and how to handle money!

If you do find a program to attend, either together or separately, I suggest calling and getting more information about what will be covered... perhaps specifically asking if there will be information about sexuality and Natural Family Planning. Whether and how NFP is discussed may be a good litmus test.

Good luck!
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Old Nov 25, '08, 2:32 pm
Laurie_86 Laurie_86 is offline
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Join Date: September 1, 2008
Posts: 117
Religion: Converted from Protestant to Catholic
Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

My fiance and I did meet online so a lot of my family is opposed to the idea that we're engaged without living in the same town. I know they'd throw a fit if they knew we were thinking about getting married this summer. I am constantly around my family so I also have to take into consideration the amount of grief I'll get from it and how they'll view my fiance. I don't want them to resent him for years and years to come.

We haven't gotten onto talk to the priest because our original plan was to wait till Summer 2010 to get married so we figured we would start planning it after I graduated. But as the semester has gone on I keep hearing that History 9-12 grade teacher jobs are really hard to come by if you're not going to coach. I don't have an athletic bone in my body! lol It seriously stresses me out at times to think what if I don't find a job there. I hate being in a separate city from him as it is...I can't take another year of that purely because I can't find a job to move there. Maybe finding a job long distance is easier than I think it will be, but it is something I seriously worry over. I know I need to trust God more about it, but I'm working on that one.

I know we need to get on planning when the wedding will be if it is going to be this summer. But the decision of whether to get married in this summer or next is a decision we agreed to mulling over and praying about till he comes to Texas for two weeks at Christmas so as to not make a rash decision. So while it is a good idea to do some preliminary talking to the priest now we are not setting it in stone till Christmas. He's going to talk with a priest about it next Wednesday so we'll find out then if there are even any dates left. I've always wanted a small wedding as I do not want to go broke for one day so the size of the wedding will not come as a shock to anyone.

We would do the Engagement Encounter in person. I would fly out there for that one that's why we are interested in it because we can deal with a weekend if it is planned. I agree we need to to a lot of this in person. I also see the good of us living in the same city before getting married. I feel like my fiance and I really know each other. We are very involved in each other's lives despite distance. We had our deal breaking conversations early in our relationship because we both wanted to know. But I understand people will still say we don't really know each other. I'm not worried that I'm going to get married and the next day he'll be a completely different person. But I understand people's concerns.

I'm just so worried about my ability to get my teaching certification transfered New Mexico in time to look for jobs combined with the stress of actually getting a job. My fiance sees this and wants to help me as he can, but having my expenses as well as his own to pay for would be impossible. Combining expenses would be easier and if I should a teaching job then we will be better off. But I'm not wanting to count on something I can't be certain of.

Like I said we're praying about it and researching until Christmas so we don't run into a bad decision. I know people will think this is wrong, but we're seeking to find what is right for us. All the advice has been really great so far thank you!
Married to DH since June 20, 2009
Baby Sam became an angel October 2009

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Old Nov 26, '08, 5:43 am
Phemie Phemie is online now
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Default Re: Long distance premarital counseling

Originally Posted by Laurie_86 View Post
Also seeing as we are having only immediate family at the wedding (majority of which are Protestant on my side and won't be receiving the Eucharist anyways) have you ever heard of churches allowing Nuptial Masses on Fridays or Thursdays? I know Saturday is a popular day to get married...but since we're breaking so many other traditions who says it has to be a Saturday?

Thanks for the help!!
You can get married any day of the week. A nuptial Mass won't be celebrated as the only Mass on Sunday, but other than that there are little restrictions, particularly in the summer. Note that although they are allowed, weddings on Sunday are not encouraged.

I got married on Friday (many moons ago) and in our parish weddings happen any day of the week except Sunday.

I can't comment on any other part of your post since I had no marriage preparation when I got married.
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