Maximizing your Pre-Cana experience: Pre-Cana is all about you, your partner, and your marriage, so for the entire length of your Pre-Cana class, that is your focus. Prioritize Pre-Cana, just like you prioritize your relationship. Make your partner feel prioritized by taking focus on what he/she has to say, even after the class ends. Agree to attend Pre-Cana when you have the time to devote the emotional energy to it. The areas discussed during Pre-Cana will be ongoing and present in your marriage, Pre-Cana is just the beginning of the conversation. To help ensure this, do your best to schedule Pre-Cana ahead of time, and about 6 months before the wedding. As you get closer to your wedding date, your to-do lists will get longer, and your stress may get higher, and the ability to focus on just one thing may be difficult. It’s important to give all of your focus on this one task of Pre-Cana. If you are attending a full day or a weekend Pre-Cana, keep your weekend free of other obligations, in order to help keep your head in the game.
What are your personal goals? What do you hope to walk away with for yourself? For example, your goal may be to get a shared understanding with your partner, on what you find to be the essential aspects of marriage. Perhaps you want to learn more effective ways to hear your partner.
After you’ve enrolled, it’s standard they should be giving this to you ahead of time. (for example: FOCCUS). After you have registered for Pre-Cana, and you have your date and packet, sit down and take some intentional time to understand the gift you have been given. Read all the material, familiarize yourself with it, figure out what you think are the big questions. make a list of questions you want to ask during Pre-Cana, or specific issues you would like to address with your partner during the class(es). This is the time when you get to ask the awkward questions that you may not otherwise feel comfortable raising. To help you get a an idea of what to address, taking the premarital inventory FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study).will be a great source of inspirations through its 189 questions and 13 categories. Your list can include anywhere from 3-5 items as your goal for Pre-Cana. Once you have your list, sit down with your partner for each of you to share what your areas of focus are. Discuss the reasons for each item on your list, and keep note of any that wound up on both your lists. As a cheat sheet, here are a few ideas:
Learning tools for healthy fighting, how to make new holiday traditions as a family, information and tips on finances and savings, different views on practicing Catholicism. Identify areas where you and your partner have similar views, where you haven’t discussed.
As part of the Pre-Cana pre-discussion, identify your boundaries, any areas that you don’t want to discuss in Pre-Cana (for example, the fact that the two of your are shacking up before marriage).It’s understandable if you are already nervous about the unknown of Pre-Cana, that would find it helpful if certain facts or information stay at home. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your partner any areas that you are concerned about going over in Pre-Cana (interfaith relationship, premarital sex, etc,). Have a discussion with your partner, reviewing individually your views on the subject, and explore how to handle the sensitive subject in the upcoming Pre-Cana.
Okay, now that your sitting in class and there’s a whole bunch of people around you (paint the setting of where this is for now) Leave the ego home, ask questions! You won’t be doing yourself any favors by not asking questions during Pre-Cana. Be honest with yourself and with your partner. You can’t get real feedback if no one knows what your thinking or feeling. Remember, everyone in the room with you has questions, what will set you apart is who is invested in their future enough to actually ask for answers. Expose your vulnerabilities. The more you let someone in to see how your filtering the info, the easier it is to have the other person reach in and connect with you.
Extra helpful tips to make the day more comfortable:
- Bring some paper and a pen, and be sure to take copious notes. Whether its specific tools, or quotes that resonated with you the most, or contact information of speakers or fellow Pre-Cana attendees, you will need this information again in your future, so write it down!
- This is especially true for the couples attending all day Pre-Cana classes: dress comfortably. It’s not a fashion show, and as great as exploring religion and relationships can be, it’s still a long class. Wear loose fitting clothing that you feel comfortable in, and shoes that are easy to wear.
- At the end of the Pre-Cana, either in person or via mail, you and your partner will receive your Pre-Cana certificate of completion. Make sure to store this in a safe and accessible spot, you will need to provide this certificate as part of the required paperwork requested by the church. Make sure to speak with your Parish priest, or the priest who is marrying you and your partner regarding the requirements, and needed paperwork.
- Post Pre-Cana: As a reward, once you finish your Pre-Cana take your partner out after to your favorite spot for dinner. This is your opportunity to decompress after a long day of couples work, and to discuss the moments and activities that impacted you the most. Use this dinner not only as a celebration for the future, but also the start a ritual, bring yourself out of the heavy emotional work in a positive, light hearted manner. Some may do dinner, some may do pillow talk or a walk. Ritualizing coming together.
Pre-Cana is a safe place for engaged couples to focus completely on their relationship in regards to getting married. With the help of fellow Catholic couples who have learned a few things during their own marriage, and with spiritual guidance, develop a better understanding of your partner’s expectations of what marriage with you is going to look like. engaged couples explore the expectations for marriage and address with their partners areas where there may be different expectations. It is normal to have some nerves about attending Pre-Cana. You are in good hands, the church is as determined as you and your future spouse are to have a long lasting and happy marriage. The following information provides strategies to help you and your future spouse approach prepare for Pre-Cana in order to truly benefit from the experience.