Marriage prep talk-help please!


#1

To start off, hi to everyone! I visit this site often but usually I am just a “lurker” on it! I have come to enjoy and appreciate all of your knowledge and suggestions to everyone that visits and asks for help. I knew just where to turn for help with this one…
My husband and I are supposed to do a Marriage Prep talk next month for our church. We only have a short amount of time, maybe 30 minutes to present. We really want to make a great impact on these couples, any thoughts? What would you like to hear at a Sex and Intimacy talk? What is important to share? If you have sat through a talk, what did you dislike? Any creative ways to get the message across?
I teach NFP so I would like to bring a bit of that into the talk. Obviously some Theology of the Body too.
Thanks in advance for all of your help!!


#2

Hi nfpteacher1,

My bride and I also teach NFP and diocesan Pre-Cana using a theology of the body based curriculum. Thirty minutes is not a long time, but our experience with engaged couples is that they appreciate some personal sharing or your personal journey. What formed you and your views on sexuality, what did you struggle with, what did you do about your struggles, how it can be an ongoing effort, how did you learn about TOB, its effect on your marriage, etc. Of course, you have to be willing to be pretty candid (when I use the term “masturbation” in my talk my bride says everyone’s eyes get big and jaws drop).

If you have the resources I think you can order Christopher West’s TOB presentations (Joy-filled Marriage) on DVD, and he’s got some interesting “creative ways” to get the message across.

On the contrary, it should be obvious not to preach, in the self-righteous sense. Use “I” statements as much as you can.

Have you given such talks before? My bride and I always pray a rosary together before our presentation, and prayer to the Holy Spirit to be a vessel and get out of His way I have found to be helpful too. Feel free to use the PM system if you have more in dpeth questions. By the way, we are supposed to give an NFP talk to our local Catholic high school senior religion class next week. Now that’s scary! Anyway, hope this helped.


#3

Thanks so much for your reply and help!
I have looked at the TOB instructor manual online and have been wondering if anyone has used that and if it has been helpful. Are the tapes and CDs to be presented to the class or for the couples that are presenting to view before hand?
Thanks again for your help, and good luck on your HS talk! Tough crowd!:thumbsup:


#4

Only a half an hour?:eek: I don’t think I could even start to talk about things in 1/2 an hour…

Any way to get the couples “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” as part of the program? Tell them it’s the “Catholic Sex Manual” and there will be a quiz next week?:wink: They use to give it out at our parish… That priest moved away so I don’t know if they still do or not. It should be required reading in my and other’s opin. So if you could give them that, maybe some of CW’s short MP3 clips could whet the appetite.

I know Mirror Mirror and Mamacita gave a talk like this a while back. I’ll go check for a pointer.


#5

I know, only 30 minutes to talk about the most important part of a marriage! :eek: UGH! So frustrating. My husband and I originally thought that a couple using NFP would give a witness talk first and then we would present the NFP introduction part. We were told there is not enough time to get into detail about NFP.
Anyway, thanks for the input!


#6

I do not think that it is a bad thing that you cannot get into details about NFP. I know that when we gave a talk similiar to this (me and mamacita) I did a focus on Humanae Vitae, the Church’s stance against contraception and for NFP. I did not get into too many details.

I would suggest that you are painfully honest with them. By that I mean saying that artificial birth control is wrong is a good statement to make. Sometimes this is the first that they will hear about this and they need to be aware of that. I agree that TGNAS&M would be a great place to start. Be sure to suggest that as “required” reading. Bring your copy to show them if you have one.

I think that talking about what sex within marriage is about would be a great point to bring up as well. Focusing on the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital embrace. Emphasizing that the marital embrace is a renewal of their wedding vows.

Listen to Christopher West. (If you have not already) He has some great resources

Aside from that, be yourself. People will be more likely to connect with you that way. If there is someway to make this personal and a way to share your personal testimony, that would be a powerful statement as well.

Be honest and upfront about the Church’s teachings about sex and marriage. Quote the Catechism as needed. As I mentioned before some of them may (honestly) not know about such things.

I pray that it goes well for you.


#7

I think this topic deserves MUCH more time, but 30 min is about all we had at my marriage prep too. The showed us an ancient video about NFP and did not really go into the whys, they were very gentle about it. However, in a room full of cohabitating couples, I think they needed to be more forceful on this subject, a video about mucus is meaningless otherwise. What really hit home for me was in a different portion another person was talking about the actual ceremony, what the consent and vows really mean (ie, “accepting children lovingly from God” does not mean “when you’re ready, go off the pill”). I think once people understand, questions about NFP will come, and that is something they don’t necessarily have to find out details from you, as long as they know there are different methods, resources available, like giving a sheet of links to the couples for them to investigate later.

Good luck- this would be hard to do in half an hour!


#8

I was thinking about what is said at these things that really make an impression. I don’t know. I apparently wasn’t too impressed 20 years ago with what I was told… Well, maybe I was to some degree.

OK… Here are some hard cold stats (sorry, don’t have original source, but have not heard this disputed much on CAF) that are being kicked around that may whet their appitite:
95% of Catholics don’t understand the teaching of the Church on Contraception. About 4%, today, use NFP. Of the 95% of those who do not follow/understand the reasons for the rules, they have the same divorce rate (about 50%) as non-Catholics. Of the 4% of those that DO follow the Church’s teachings, only about 2% of those divorce. Why?

Maybe that will entice them to understand on their own.:shrug:

(Could someone help me verify my numbers… I’m doing it from memory and that can be a bit fuzzy at times.


#9

I want to thank everyone for all of the responses and GREAT ideas! I knew you would all be so helpful!:thumbsup: I am loving all of the ideas and stats, they will come in handy!
God Bless


#10

And bless you for doing this. I can’t think of anything that is more important than marriage prep! We are all deeply indebted to folks like you!


#11

The deacon who gave this part of the marriage prep used the term “mature love” a lot. It really made sense. My husband and I always use that term now too and say it the way the deacon did. heehee.

But seriously, is there an NFP section or do you have to cover that? I think it is extremely important to cover NFP. My eyes were opened.


#12

Sina,
There is not other talk on NFP so we are going to do our past to put as much information in it about NFP. We both know how important it is for engaged couples to hear.
Thanks for the reply!


#13

Many people get married in their mid 20s while they are young and at their cosmetic peak.
By mid 30s most are beyond their prime. They also have have kids, bills, work schedules, etc that are not conducive to an intimate life.
By mid 40s a rare few can still turn heads and years later health problems ensue. with most people getting married today likely living into the mid 80s.

A young couple might expect 10 good years with a “hot” actively intimate spouse while the mariage will hopefully last 50-60 years. If a relationship is built on cosmetic attraction and intimacy only they should consider how they would spend the other 80% of their marriage.

I know this is painting things in a bad light and doesn’t apply to all couples. But all should consider would they really want to be with the other person if physical / cosmetic attraction and routine physical intimacy were not in the picture?


#14

It is great to hear that you will be doing this!! My husband and I were married nine years ago and started doing the talks about six years ago (when we started we were expecting baby #2 and now we’re expecting #5!! I can’t believe it has been that long!! We are also NFP teachers and when we have used it it has worked 100% effectively but we just don’t use it. Anyway, we always are trying to change things up for our talk so it sounds fresh. The things we always include are:

-personal witness (conversion story)
-benefits of children to marriage
-health benefits of learning NFP before becoming pregnant, and as opposed to using aritificial methods
-importance of prayer for married couple

30 minutes is not a lot of time but if you plan carefully and not worry too much about if you miss something, I’m sure you will do a great job.

The main thing is that you are just standing there saying that, yes, it is possible (and even much easier!) to be happily married without depending upon artificial contraception!!!

OH - most importantly - PRAY for the couples and yourselves before the talk and during if possible. Start it with a prayer. Jason Evert’s website has great tips on giving a chastity talk which is similar to what you will be doing.

Good luck and let me know if youhave any more questions.
God bless!!!
Sally


#15

Use handouts with contact information for NFP. Give them the free CD of Janet Smith’s “Contraception: Why Not” from onemoresoul.com

Go straight to the chase: Sometimes the best you can do is say: "When it comes to Catholic marriage, the thing most people are most resistant to is the teaching on contraception. People think it is archaic, and impossible. But that’s because they don’t know what it is and why it is critical to a sacramental marriage.

“We’ve been there/done that. This is one of the best kept secrets on the PLANET.”

And you radiate your enthusiasm in a way that demonstrates that this is a GOOD thing.

Right away point out that it does NOT mean you are going to have 23 children. (Don’t give the idea that this is “Catholic” contraception thoughr!)


#16

Hi,

I have done several of these. The outline presented by SallyC is decent, but avoid getting too technical or bible/church thumping. You have to be somewhat entertaining and really talk from the heart about your faith and NFP and how they have enriched your marriage. I pretty suggest throwing out any prepared talk; you do not want to be reading a sheet and avoiding contact with your audience. Just be genuine and straightforward, a bunch of quotes from the Bible, Church Fathers, Saints, Popes, etc. are not going to mean much to a marriage prep audience.

Good luck and good bless,


#17

I second the motion. Your sincerity will be your best teaching tool.


#18

Thanks again, everyone, for your wonderful responses! We are hoping and praying to give a wonderful talk!
Still working on it…


#19

Hi, sorry I am so late to jump in on the conversation - newbetx had emailed me to point out this thread (thanks again). I had posted once before how the marriage prep I attended had a profound impact on me, my relationship with my future spouse, and the way I behaved and thought as a Catholic.

I just wanted to share a few things that made a huge impression on me at Engaged Encounter. The presenting couples were very open and honest, willing to share very personal stories that I could relate to. They are not perfect and were more like me and my FH then I imagined. They struggled with NFP vs. ABC, how many kids to have, their sex life, sex before marriage, and other difficult-to-accept Church teachings. They set a good example on how to sort it out through discussion, prayer, and serious examination.

Although they did not go into long detail (no time) they did introduce the Christopher West book by showing a clip from one of his presentations that compared sending out wedding invitations to sex being open to life (without contraception); if you send a wedding invite to someone who’s unlikely to come and they manage to show up, you’re okay with it, but if you didn’t send them an invite, specifically said NO and they show up anyway you’re angry. That clip really hit home with how I was looking at having children. It interested me enough to read Good News and I discovered Catholicism was far different from what I was taught in CCD.

They did present the stat about NFP couples having a lower divorce rate. I think of it this way: if you have enough faith in God that he’ll only give you what you can handle (and practice NFP), you’re enough of a believer to realize the permanency of marriage. If you don’t trust God to that extent, it’s not likely that you’ll trust another human being enough to stay married anyway. The low divorce rate correlates to the openness and level of faith of the couple in God and each other (my own conclusion there).

If we had shown up and the presenting couples said “Hi, look what perfect Catholics we are, without problems, and how many kids we have accepted graciously without ever questioning it” they would have lost the entire audience before they started. Engaged couples are not stupid, we know there are going to be tough times. What we need to see/hear (and did) is that faith in God and in each other really can get you through the hardships and that sticking through it IS possible … and worth it, with good examples.

Thank you so much for teaching this class. I know at our EE they talked about the need for more presenting couples. I hope one day FH and I can do the same.


#20

Oh, I forgot something. Another poster earlier in this thread mentioned that the couples at marriage prep were already living together. This was also true at our EE, all 11 couples were and had been before becoming engaged (which we each only admitted secretly to each other at meals later, certainly not out loud at the get-go). The reminder that the actual sex act makes up a very small part of your married life was something that all of us, idiots in love, did not want to hear. After our EE, Future Husband and I decided to be chaste until our wedding night. I’ll be honest, while we initially wanted to refrain “because it was the holy and right thing to do” it really turned into morbid curiosity of what life together would be like without sex. We were very worried that it would adversely affect our relationship and that we would lose that closeness, that connection.

It did have a negative effect, at first, like any change would. We fought more and felt like something was wrong, lost. After about two months we realized we were mourning it more than we were actually missing it. It’s been five months now and it really could not have been a better decision. I am VERY sure now that I am, without a doubt, marrying my best friend (in addition to my lover). It really allowed us to focus on other aspects of our relationship. It kind of shoved us out of the honeymoon stage and into the realistic stage, and surprisingly, we’ve discovered our love has grown deeper. We’ve got four more months left and it’s really a non-issue at this point.

I suspect the number of engaged couples that don’t sleep together is REALLY low. You’d be doing them a huge favor making it abundantly clear that if they want to prepare for their ENTIRE future together, that’s going to have to include being together without sex.

PS the presenting couples were no help in this department because they had all waited until marriage. If you did the deed beforehand, I suggest you fess up. :o

(Thanks again)


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.