This past weekend, Dr. Groomy and I attended an Engaged Enrichment Conference. Required and put on by the Archdiocese of our church, the conference was a series of talks about preparing for marriage with the Catholic faith.
The conference is through the John Paul II Center’s Nazareth Project, which was created by our Archbishop to help couples prepare for marriage.
I’ll be honest, Dr. Groomy and I were not exactly looking forward to this conference. Drive for over an hour, only to sit inside, for 8 hours, listening to talks about marriage and the Catholic faith, on a Saturday? No thank you! However, we were pleasantly surprised.
The morning session started out with a keynote by a young priest. If any of you are Catholic, you will know that young priests are RARE. He was really funny and it was a really interesting keynote—not so much preachy, preachy, but more, here are the parts of marriage the Church focuses on.
After that, we moved into smaller groups and attended talks on Natural Family Planning and the spirituality of marriage. I would say these were the only disappointments of the day. I was actually very interested in hearing about NFP, because I have a few friends who utilize the Fertility Awareness Method, which is very similar. The talk, however, was so disappointing. The nurse who spoke did not explain ANYTHING about NFP, and I left the talk feeling like I would have to go home and google if I wanted to know what it involved. The spirituality of marriage talk was ok, but the speaker wasn’t very dynamic, so I don’t remember much of what he said.
After lunch, we again split into small groups. The afternoon sessions were great! We first attended a talk on building communication for a Catholic marriage. The speakers were a young married couple who had us fill out questionnaires about things like holidays, traditions, prayer, etc. Basically, it was a great way to get us talking about the traditions we want to keep from our families, the new traditions we want to start with our own family, and some of the goals we have for our marriage (from things like “own our own home” to “send our children to Catholic schools”). It really got us talking about some things I think we wouldn’t normally talk about!
The second afternoon session was my favorite. It was a talk about the book The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.
I was so excited for this talk because I had previously heard of the book through various wedding blogs! This talk was again put on by another couple, who had been married for almost 30 years and had 7 children together. They were vibrant and funny, and it was so neat to learn the love languages and see where Dr. Groomy & I fell in terms of them (they had us all take a quiz to learn which love languages we leaned towards). I am definitely going to pick up this book for us to read.
The day ended with another keynote by the same couple who did the love languages talk…and then we were headed back to Milwaukee.
Overall, I would say this was a good experience for us. We came back to Milwaukee afterwards feeling renewed about things like going to church, and it forced us to talk about issues that could come up in our marriage later on (like how we want to raise our children). We both ended up really enjoying the day!
Do/did you have to do any marriage prep? What were your thoughts on the experience?
*As an additional aside, I just want to say that clearly, it’s not easy being Catholic these days. The fact that I even have to type a disclaimer like this is ridiculous, but it is what it is. I know you ladies won’t, but I want to make it clear that disparaging remarks about the Church or my religion will not be tolerated in the comments. Each person’s spirituality and faith is just that—their own—and there are many feelings I have about my faith and the Church that I have no intention of sharing on the blog. So please, no assumptions or rude remarks, ok? Let’s try not to be so judgey judgey of each other all the time.