The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant. This is more than a legal contract because it refers to a relationship between husband and wife in a life-long union of knowing and loving each other and God. By this covenant, the couple witness Christ’s spousal love for the Church and are called to mirror Christ to each other, giving of themselves in an unselfish way that is free, total, faithful and fruitful (that is, no impediment, fully giving of oneself, loyal and open to children).
The Church provides not only a preparation for marriage but also support during the marriage should difficulties arise. There are also courses available to promote discernment and enrichment of your marriage and provide teaching on Natural Fertility Awareness.
FOR ENGAGED COUPLES PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE:
As Marriage is one of the Sacraments of the church, it’s Canon Law requires that couples undertake some kind of preparation to understand the Sacrament and what marriage entails. Our course is done over nine weeks, although it can be fast tracked to be done in a month if your wedding is very soon or you are getting married abroad and need to satisfy a particular country’s regulations. At the end, you and/or your priest get a report and certificate of completion, depending on whose email addresses you give when registering. Your priest may then give you some further guidance on the Sacrament.
The Diocese supports the Catholic marriage preparation courses run by SmartLoving UK. Their website is https://smartloving.org/uk. Because it is done online, it has the advantage that couples can fit it in to their working lives especially if they live in different areas. However if couples find that they also need guidance which only a face to face meeting can give, this can be arranged by Zoom or Skype by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org . When couples work through the online course, many soon realise that there are areas of their lives that they have never discussed before, even if co-habiting, and their relationship deepens as a result. This is relationship training in a Catholic context for whatever stage couples are at. It has the Imprimatur and is accepted in Catholic churches internationally.
We are automatically notified when you register for your marriage preparation course. If you add your priest’s email address during your registration, your priest will also be notified of your progress and receive a report and certificate of completion. This will enable your priest to also pick up any areas for discussion if you have misunderstood anything. It’s your choice whether or not you ask for Skype/Zoom support and also your choice whether you add an additional email address. If you don’t, the report and certificate will only come to you but your priest will need to see it at some stage.
When you are ready to register for your course, go to https://smartloving.org/northampton/ where you will see an option enabling you to read or download the Diocesan marriage preparation flier (scroll down). Then click on the “Engaged Couple” button to open up your registration form. You may also get a pop-up box on the website asking you to sign up for the e-newsletter. This is worth doing and gives you free interesting articles every so often to help your marriage and can be cancelled anytime. Further instructions on how to register and pay for the course are given to you by your priest or by contacting email@example.com . The sooner you start the better, especially if your wedding is abroad as the paperwork trail takes a long time!
FOR COUPLES DISCERNING ENGAGEMENT:
One of the most critical decisions in life is the decision to marry. Not only does it have life-long implications, the decision to marry sets in motion a series of practical and organisational events that carry couples towards that commitment with considerable force. This online course helps couples think more carefully through their decision. https://smartloving.org/discern/
SUPPORT FOR NEWLYWEDS:
Starting out in marriage is an exciting time. It’s also a critical time for establishing rituals and habits that will become the bedrock of a thriving relationship. Newlywed Date Nights will help newlyweds do just that! Go to https://smartloving.org/newlywed
Happy life-long marriage requires ongoing formation. This online course is tailored to all married couples who seek to renew and strengthen their commitment. Go to https://smartloving.org/marriage-kit
NATURAL FERTILITY AWARENESS:
Based on the Sympto-Thermal method, this online course is not just another birth control method. It’s a framework for living your marriage within your Catholic Faith to foster intimacy and help you flourish as a couple. It can also be used to target peak fertility if couples are having trouble conceiving and is included free in SmartLoving Online marriage preparation. Go to https://smartloving.org/fertility
FOR MARRIAGES IN DIFFICULTY:
Put your marriage back on track with frameworks especially designed for the individual spouse seeking to improve their marriage. No situation is beyond hope no matter how much you are hurting. Be consoled and encouraged as you receive healing and clarity so that you can discern God’s plan in your circumstances. For an online course with powerful tools to bring hope for those in distressed marriages, go to https://smartloving.org/breakthrough