Before you go down the aisle — the growth of marriage prep

Jun 6, 2022 by

from Church Times:

Pre-wedding guidance by church groups is now practical, accessible — and no longer embarrassing, Abigail Frymann Rouch finds.

LOUISA ELLIOTT (not her real name) remembers her marriage preparation — but not in a good way. She and her fiancé visited the vicarage of her mother’s rural parish. It was the 1980s, and the vicar, a man in his sixties, began by telling her and her intended his views on the indissolubility of marriage, “even if he beats you and abuses you, even if the sex is not what you want”, and “even if she nags you incessantly and makes your life a misery”.

She reports: “We staggered back to my mother’s house, and she took one look at our white faces — she knew the vicar — and said, ‘My dears, you need a drink!’ She poured us the most enormous glasses of sherry. (My mother was hardly known to drink.) She said: ‘You don’t have to get married; or you could elope and I’ll give a party for you later.’

“I think I was told [my fiancé] would be the head of the household. . . But I was already the major wage-earner. Some of the stuff he was saying just didn’t make sense in the modern world.”

What is considered a suitable briefing for a couple on the diving-board of marriage has changed over the years, thankfully. These days, using marriage-prep sessions to expound church teaching has softened into the giving of practical advice and providing discussion-starters for the couple’s benefit.

None the less, research suggests that the main providers of marriage prep in the UK are explicitly or quietly Christian, be they parish clergy or authors of publicly available materials. These include the Pre-Marriage Course, which emerged from Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB); and Marriage by Design, from the charity Care for the Family. Even Relate’s marriage prep is carried out by Marriage Care, a Roman Catholic charity headed by a divorced and remarried Methodist, Mark Molden.

Marriage prep has become — whisper it — a success story for the Church.

Two decades of research by the Marriage Foundation (another Christian charity) suggests that more than one third of couples (37 per cent) marrying for the first time undertake some sort of marriage prep. The figure has remained constant since the 1960s.

It can be broken down into 46 per cent of spouses who identified as Christian and 25 per cent of spouses who said they had no religion. In fact, marriage prep has fared better than church weddings, which were had by 70 cent of couples in 1965, but only 21 per cent in 2018.

Read here


Related Posts


Share This