Marriage Counseling Question


I just met with girlfriend’s father on Monday to ask her hand in marriage. We are both Catholics and plan to be married in the church. The question we are both wondering is how long pre-marital counseling takes? I live in the Diocese of Arlington, Va.
Another question I have is will the fact that I am not confirmed complicate things? I spent some years in the Lutheran church but have now returned. I have not been confirmed, however.

Thanks so much!


It varies from parish to parish. Usually 6 to 9 months. Check the local bulletin. You have to marry in either your fiancee’s home parish or yours. You can look up the Arlington Diocese online. Each parish will specify the requirements for pre-Cana counselling.

Good luck.


6 mths is the minimal usually. But you should check with the diocese to be certain. you not being confirmed shouldn’t matter. Have you made your first communion? If so, and you desire to return to Catholicism, then just go to Confession. you can join RCIA or be confirmed in the Catholic Church later in the year (each diocese is different).

Edit: if you and your fiancee want a nuptial Mass, that shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve made your First Communion. (Although technically confirmation/chrismation should be first)


Although not absolutely required, Confirmation is strongly recommended.

Pre-Cana classes can be one night a week for several weeks or it can be a weekend retreat or somewhere in between. It just depends on what your diocese offers.

Most parishes ask that they be notified a certain number of months in advance. This way they be sure your requested date is put on the schedule with no conflicts, and also so that you have time to meet with the priest and work out any issues such as whether you need to get confirmed prior to your marriage.

Call your parish to get specific answers. All we can do here is give you generalities.


You only need to be confirmed if you will be taking Holy Orders.

Usually 6 months preparation in the Church and it is not “marriage counseling” in the secular sense.


Marital preparation courses differ in type and requirement from diocese to diocese. Therefore the timeline will be specific to your diocese and even your parish (some parishes book up a year in advance for weddings, while others do not). So, anywhere from 6-12 months.

Contact your priest to find out whta must be done in your parish.

As for Confirmation, I think people here are understating its importance-- making it sound like it’s no big deal you aren’t confirmed. It is a big deal. It’s an obligation of all Catholics to be confirmed. I am glad you have returned from your sojourn outside the Church. You should talk to your priest about receiving the sacrament as soon as possible. Now is a good time since most adult confirmation classes go on in the spring with confirmation being sometime between Easter and Pentecost.

Regarding Confirmation and marriage, canon law says this:

Can. 1065 §1. Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience.

A “grave inconvenience” would be something pretty drastic.


I know in my parish in Maryland (when I lived there) they would have the adult confirmandi would join the RCIA class in the last few months before the Easter Vigil. So, now would be a good time to contact your adult faith formation leader and find out about getting confirmed. I think it’s important to take this forward step in your faith to provide a solid foundation for your marriage.

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