Wow it has been slightly more than a year since I visited this space. I really wanted to have been able to share my wedding planning journey as it happened, but unfortunately it ended up taking way too much time and I wasn’t able to. Now, 4 months after being married, I finally feel settled down enough to continue sharing my experiences!
B & I, both being Catholics, were required to attend a marriage preparation course as part of our journey towards a Catholic marriage. We were given 2 options – Marriage Preparation Course (MPC), which consists of 6 half-day sessions over 6 consecutive weekends, and Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE), which is a 2D3N weekend stay-in camp. It was an easy choice for us going with CEE as we’re both very busy individuals, so CEE would be a quicker option for us. One think to note for couples thinking of taking the CEE, remember to book way ahead of your wedding date! From our experience, though there are CEE weekends on average 1-2 times a month, they are booked out really fast, like about 8 months in advance. We had to book right after our engagement to secure a Feb 2016 weekend.
On the Friday of our weekend, whilst on the way to the Marriage Encounter House in Punggol, I remember we were feeling extremely skeptical about how our weekend would go. We didn’t feel like we needed a marriage preparation course as we have never had problems discussing important/difficult issues. Also, we felt nervous at the thought of having to be split up into 2 diff rooms and having to share a room with a stranger of the same sex. It didn’t help that it was a gloomy pouring evening.
Whilst waiting for everyone to arrive, there were plenty of refreshments (a recurrent theme throughout the weekend hehe I swear they wanted us to get fat!!) and we also bumped into quite a few of our friends which made us feel more comfortable as we had expected not to know anyone. As we made our way into the packed LT, we were told that our weekend was the largest they had ever hosted, about 50+ couples? After some briefing we were then ushered into our twin sharing rooms (bunks actually), with girls & guys being split into diff floors. I was glad that my roomie turned out to be normal and not a weirdo haha. Anyway soon after, we were ushered back into the LT to commence the weekend proper.
In essence, the entire weekend was structured into different topics and hosted by 3 couples. The topics included conflict management, finances, intimacy and marriage life among other things. Each topic would start with the 3 hosting couples giving their input and sharing their real life experiences with us (as they were of different ages, we got different perspectives which made it more interesting). Sometimes, the hosting priest would share his experience if it was a relatable topic as well. We would then be given time to individually answer some questions in our book, and subsequently meet up with our partner to discuss whatever we wrote down in our book. This took place from about 7 in the morning till 11 at night, including daily mass. It was extremely taxing, but by the end it felt extremely fulfilling.
Despite our initial skepticism, we were both glad to have gone through the CEE as we felt it brought us even closer together. We understood more about each other as well because we went into greater depth regarding all the issues we thought we had already discussed before. I would definitely recommend this course to all Catholic couples out there preparing for marriage, or even thinking about getting engaged. Quite a few of the friends we met there were not engaged yet, but I think this was beneficial for them in deciding if they were taking the right step. Marriage is a huge step, so there is nothing embarrassing about attending a marriage preparation course without being engaged as it will really help you in seeing if your ideals in life match up. Better early than late! Also, to all all inter-faith couples (i.e. one Catholic & the other non-Catholic), please come for the course with an open mind. Do not be afraid that it will be too religion driven, as it is not. The main intent of the course is really to get to know your partner on a deeper level. There is even a module on inter-faith marriages and how to deal with the difficulties that come with it. I really hope whoever is going to attend CEE will feel less skepticism after reading this & that whoever has attended it had a positive experience like I did!