Engagement and marriage preparation question!

Hiya, I hope this is the right place to ask this: What do the prospective couple do in marriage preparation? I know some dioceses require NFP courses, and there’s some spiritual direction involved, but other than that I have no idea what typically goes on. Can it be done long distance?

Here’s my situation. It will be three years this spring since my GF and I started “dating”. From the very beginning we both were open to marriage and about a year into the relationship we realized two things: one, that we genuinely loved each other and two, that we shouldn’t get married until we were both out of college. I promised her that if we we’re still going strong when she graduated, I’d propose to her.

Here’s where it gets complicated. I’m a MA student at in Iowa, and while she is set to graduate this May from UW-Milwaukee (that’s 420 miles away if you’re curious, a six hour drive, and $1-3 in tolls through that poor excuse of a state, Illinois;)), we don’t know how to go about actually getting married in a long-distance relationship. She will be going on to get her MA so she can actually do something with her degree, and I have another year left in my MA…so I can actually do something with my degree.

Disregarding everything else, what can we do with regards to marriage preparation? Three years is a long time to be “courting,” and we really want to fulfill our vocation. We both figure that if our relationship survives like it has, studies abroad in China included, we definitely have found the right spouse to help us get to heaven. What in the world can/should we do?

First, decide where you will be married-- in one of the cities you currently reside in or “back home” in a childhood parish. If you will be married where one of you now resides you need to register and become formal members of a parish. If it is “back home” you will need to ask if your parent’s membership will suffice or if you will need to register, etc.

After determining WHERE you will marry, you need to make an appointment with that priest to determien WHAT will be required.

Each bishop is tasked with ensuring proximate preparation for marriage, but they have the authority/discretion to implement that however they see fit. There is no one, standard marriage preparation program. It varies by diocese, and to some extent by parish.

It will include meetings with the priest or deacon for counseling, premarital investigation/paperwork, some sort of teaching on the sacrament of marriage an practical aspects of marriage (which will likely be done through a retreat, sponsor couple program, or diocesan created program), and there will likely be a discussion of or class on NFP.

Yes, it is possible to do marriage prep long distance. My DH and I were in Texas (me) and Wisconsin (him). We got married in my parish but did marriage prep in his diocese because the time/date worked better for us. All we had to do was give my priest the certificate of attendance from his diocese. We then did preparation with the deacon-- normally done over 5 separate evening meetings but the deacon agreed to do an all day meeting with us on a Saturday since my DH had to fly in for that.

Your mileage may vary.

In my Diocese you have to contact your local priest at least six months in advance. The first thing they normally do is verify your are both free to marry, since our priest helped my fiancee with his annulment and me with my Pauline Privlige this was very simple for us. We are requires to take a Diocese sponsored 1 day session called Begining (or in our case as this is a second marriage Beginging Anew). We also will have to take a FOCUS test and based on the results have 1 or more pre-marital counceling sessions with our priest or deacon. We are not required to take a NFP course but I know some Dioceses require this.

Easy solution: Since you both have another year of studies, simply wait until you both finish until you consider doing anything else. Three years of courting is certainly not excessive,especially when you are young and have spent a good deal of time apart. In fact, given the time apart, I would strongly recommend that you spend more time together before you actually get engaged, because your lives are still unfolding.

While our situation is entirely unique (isn’t everyone’s? :wink: ) - it worked for us. My husband and I were 3,000 miles apart for our entire courtship and engagement. We met online (not on a dating site, we met on a forum like this one). He was in England and I am in Michigan. We dated/were engaged for just under two years (we have been married for three). We did most of our marriage prep long distance with the assistance of an extremely supportive priest and social worker at the parish where we were married. My husband came here to the States to go to the Engaged Encounter weekend with me, we did study questions via email and Skype every week - discussing every possible topic of marriage you can imagine, and some you don’t want to. We did our FOCCUS test, and reviewed the results with the social worker and priest via Skype. He immigrated here 30 days before the wedding.

It was not easy - but it certainly can be done. You just need to be patient and not allow wedding planning to dictate when you get married - your readiness for marriage should do that, and your priest will tell you when that is. :slight_smile:

Congratulations!!! I’m sure you will work it all out just fine - follow 1ke’s suggestions and it will all come together.

~Liza

One my friends is also this kind of situation and asked my help. I think I have got fair idea on how to help them out. I think idea of focus test and then consultation via Skype will do the trick for them.

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