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CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAM (MPP) The intention is that the MPP is undertaken as part of service to the Church,

a means of formation for the engaged couple and a means of apostolate. This paper can also be read in conjunction with another paper titled Marriage Program also on SCRIBD. The CFC MPP is based on the following premise: 1. The MPP is intended to provide the couple with a basic understanding of what marriage means and entails. However, much more will need to be learned as they live out their married life. 2. Most couples do not really encounter serious problems during the early stages of their marriage. However, many couples may encounter stress and difficulties, often times serious and within a few years time. 3. What is thus crucial for many couples is not so much pre-marriage counselling, but rather post-marriage formation and pastoral support. 4. The MPP as just the first part of a total support package for married couples.

Objectives As such, the objectives of the MPP are as follows: 1. To prepare the engaged couple for the initial stage of their new life together.

2. To develop a personal relationship with the engaged couple such that their confidence is won and their interest for more continual formation and pastoral support is encouraged. Content The MPP is divided into 5 separate sessions, as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Christian Marriage. The Christian Couple. Communication in Marriage. The Christian Family. Keys to Successful Marriage and Family Life.

Methodology There are three basic ways of conducting the MPP: 1. 2. 3. On a couple-to-couple basis. As a seminar for a larger group in a parish setting. As a weekend retreat.

The first way may be the most practical arrangement with the MPP being undertaken in a home and family environment. Other advantage of the first method are the following: 1. The approach is very personal, with full attention given just to the one couple.

2.

There is a greater opportunity for married couple to speak about their own experience, in a very natural setting.

3. It provides the opportunity for more parish couples to get involved as an important service to the Church. 4. There is a great deal of flexibility in starting program. You do not have to wait to gather a group and agreeing on schedules. You only have to deal with the time availability of one couple. The second method involves a group of engaged couples coming together for formal sessions, usually held in the parish compound. In this case, the persons leading the MPP will give the talk, then followed by small group sharing/discussion facilitated by other members of the parish. The third method is a stay-in weekend retreat. A distinct advantage of this is an atmosphere that is more prayerful and more conducive to learning. A disadvantage is the cost involved and the necessary organisation and arrangements that have to be put in place. Scripture Many scripture passages are referred to in the presentations. There is deliberate emphasis to present the whole area of marriage as divinely ordained, and as such, can only work well when lived out in accordance with God's prescriptions. These are basically laid out in the Bible. Furthermore, the living word of God can penetrate deeper and much more effectively than mere human words can (Heb 4:12). In the spiritual battle raging today in the arena of marriage and family life, we must utilize the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). Session I CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

Outline Marriage is a special state that a man and woman enter into. To get married is a very important decision that a couple makes. They need to try and understand this important step that they are about to make. Five aspects of Christian marriage. 1. a) As God's plan. Marriage is God's idea. Gen 1:27-28; 2:18,24.

God intended a man and woman to form a new unity, for mutual fulfilment and the procreation of children. b) Marriage will work well only if according to God's plan.

Consider all the couples in love who got married and are now separated. 2. As a vocation.

a) God is love. God created man and woman in His own image and likeness. Therefore, man in turn ought to love as God loves.

b)

Most people will be called to express that love in the context of marriage.

Note:There could also be call to celibacy (e.g., a religious life). 3. As a covenant

a) Marriage is more than just a contract or agreement between two parties. Rather, it is a profound commitment or covenant between a man and a woman. A contract is usually a written agreement of the terms and conditions defining the limit of what one is expected to do for another On the other hand, a covenant is open-ended and without limits. It is a solemn agreement committing the parties in a total and selfless way. b) * Marriage as a covenant establishes a whole way of life.

The couple is to work together as one and not just live together as married individuals (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31). Love is the abiding principle. Christian marriage is for keeps! It lasts until death (Mk 10:6-9) 4. As a sacrament

a) A sacrament, by definition, is an outward sign or symbol that gives grace. Sacramental grace enables a person to live out what would be difficult or impossible simply on his own human strength. b) Marriage is a very demanding relationship.

A spouse is supposed to selflessly give himself/her-self totally to the other person. It is to be characterized by self-sacrificial love. Its to last through better or worse, through sickness or health, etc., until death'. c) The sacrament of Christian marriage empowers a couple through the work of the Holy Spirit, infusing God's own love and strength into their union. 5. a) b) As a commitment, to serve. Marriage is not intended for service of self but rather for service to one's spouse. Rom 12:10. Phil 2:3-4. We should have the attitude of Christ. Phil 2:5-7.

c) You may be entering into the most fulfilling relationship of your life. Open yourselves up to understanding and accepting God's intent in and through Christian marriage

Session 2

THE CHRISTIAN COUPLE

Outline A husband-wife relationship entails the following: Being a brother and sister in Christ. a) More fundamental to your becoming husband and wife is the reality of your being brother and sister in Christ. b) You are both children of God. As such, you both have a fundamental worth and dignity. You are equally loved by God. c) You need to love each other because of this. Jn 15:12. Mutual deference. Love and respect. Eph ~:21.' Eph 5:33.

In marriage, the husband and the wife have different roles. Eph 5:22-32. a) The roles have nothing to do with worth and dignity, in which both are equal. They have nothing to do with who is more intelligent, capable, experienced, etc. b) They are simply God-given roles. c) They are intended for peace and good order in the family. Role of the husband as head. a) He is the provider. He sees to it that adequate food, clothing and shelter are afforded for the family members. The wife could also work, but it is the husband's basic responsibility to provide.

b) He is the protector. He governs and manages the affairs of the family. He takes responsibility for their well-being and safety. He raises his sons in manly Christian character.

c) He is the priest of the family He takes responsibility for the spiritual life of the family.

Role of the wife as the heart. of the family a) She is a companion to her husband. She stands by his side in their walk through life, through good times as well as bad. She becomes a source, of blessing to him, encouraging and up building him, especially in the midst of the difficulties of everyday life.

b) She is a partner to him. Being equal in worth and dignity, she complements her husbands in the areas of strength and weakness. She helps him~in the formation of a vision for their family, seeing to the carrying out of this vision by each member of the family with creativity. She helps raise their children, especially in the area of Christian character.

c) She is a support to him. She prays and intercedes for him and for the life of the family. She cares for his personal needs, as well as that of the children. She endures that her husband receives the honour and respect due to him from herself as well as their children. She is an effective steward of the material blessings that God has given the family through his labour. She sets the environment of the home to be a refuge from the cares of the world.

The importance of sex in marriage. It is in accordance with God~s plan. 1 Cor 7:3-5. a) The unitive purpose. Gen 2:24. God creates a profound new unity in marriage. The sexual act is the physical expression of this unity. Sexual intimacy is an act of total self-surrender, a complete giving of self to one's spouse within the context of the marriage covenant.

b) The procreative purpose. Gen 1:28. The sexual union of husband and wife, is intended by God to result in new life.

c) Sex in marriage is a gift from God. God designed our sexual impulses and desires, and He wants us to experience physical

pleasure in sexual intercourse. Session 3 Outline Communication in marriage is crucial to the love relationship of husband and wife. We are not just concerned about talking with one another, but with deliberately spending quality time on a regular basis to talk about things that concern the marriage and the life of the family. Through the years of marriage, there will be problems, arguments and fights. a) You need to learn how to talk these things through. b) Or better still, to regularize communication such that serious conflicts will be minimized. Obstacles to effective communication. Not making the effort. a) Being resigned to the current state of affairs. b) Being too busy and having no time to really talk. c) Not really caring enough to bother to talk things through. Talking but not listening. a) Being just intent on saying your piece and not being open to the other's point of view really b) Selective listening (choosing what you want to hear and filtering others). c) Not exerting enough effort to understand what the other party is trying to say, what the real message is beyond the words being said. Difference between men and women. a) In general, men deal more on the level of ideas ad concepts, while women are more focused on personal feelings and reactions. b) Men tend to see the,whole picture and can live with a problem, while women focus on details an want problems resolved immediately. Thus we should experience genuine freedom and joy in sex. Sexual intimacy unites husband and wife not just physically, but creates an intimate emotional bond between them, and strengthens their relationship with one another. COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE

How do you communicate effectively? a) Make time and take time. Prioritize communication with each other by setting a regular time together. This can deal with issues before they build up. b) Be objective and focus on the real issue. c) Have the right motivation. Your goal is unity based on love, not on winning the argument. d) Learn to accept correction or criticism without being defensive. Do not question your spouse's basic love and commitment to you. e) Agree to disagree without being disagreeable. f) Don't attempt to communicate when angry or tired.. What do you talk about? a) You are to talk about anything and everything regarding your life together as a couple and as a family. b) Talk about yourselves (i.e. personal likes and dislikes 1 expectations and preferences, hopes and dreams). c) Discuss difficulties and problems. d) Take up family concerns with one way you Session 4 Outline Children are a gift from God. Ps 127:3. Having children is in accordance with God's plan. (Gen 1:25). a) As Christian spouses, we are called to serve life. b) As parents, we are cooperators with God in the transmission of human life in accordance with His will. c) Children comprise the next generation of Christians.. d) A child is the fruit of the conjugal love of spouses. e) Children are also a source of blessing for parents. Parenting. Parents have the responsibility to raise up their children according to God's ways. Eph 6:4. a) This responsibility rests especially on the father as the head of the family. THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY

b) The aim is to raise up children to love and serve God. c) Children are to be taught to relate well with other people. Be sorry for doing wrong. Forgive one another Accord honour and respect to others.

Parents have God-given authority over their children. a) Children are expected to obey their parents. b) This parental authority stays until a child reaches the age of majority, or as long as the child is under parental support. The means of training. a) Your example. b). Actual teaching. c) The exercise of discipline in a fair and responsible manner and without malice. Responsible parenthood. A couple needs to take responsibility for how many children they are to have. a) Humanae Vitae: "In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family; or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect for moral law, to. avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, new birth." b) If a couple does decide to limit births, the recourse should be to natural methods of family planning. c) All forms of artificial contraception are intrinsically wrong. d) These are various medical hazards to contraception. Session 5 Outline God wants Christian couples to have good life giving marriages. Since Christian marriage is His plan, He can and will provide whatever is needed to make a marriage work well. There are, certain key elements involved. Prayer. a) This is one of our basic ways of having an intimate and loving personal relationship with God, the source of grace and strength for us. KEYS TO SUCCESSSFUL MARRIAGE AND. FAMILY LIFE

Prayer is dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit. Ps 127:1.

b) You need to have a personal prayer time, and also develop a family prayer time. Christian formation. a) You will need to continue to learn about living a good. Christian life, as well as how to build up a strong Christian marriage and family life. b) You must read the Bible, which contains God's instructions for living your life in and for Him. c) You need to receive, teachings on marriage life. Ongoing pastoral support and family a) Society today does not hold the same values as our Christian faith. There is materialism, humanism, hedonism. In fact, there are overt pressures in marriage and family life (separation, divorce, abortion, contraception1 infidelity, etc.).

b) Thus you need the support of other Christians who are committed to God's ways in marriage and family life. By yourselves1 it is so easy to fall prey to what the world offers or teaches. You will need an environment of support , a body of committed Christians. This should be found in your parish, but unfortunately the size and impersonal nature of most parishes preclude this kind of care and support.