Friday, October 26, 2012

"Married in the Catholic Church" Review

A few weekends ago, Dan and I attended a marriage prep class called "Married in the Catholic Church: Does It Matter?" We didn't really know anything about it before we signed up, except that it was on a weekend we were available. I tried searching online for information on it, but there wasn't any.  I'm going to give a detailed recap of it here so that maybe the next person who searches for it will have a little better idea than I did.

If you're new here, you should know that I'm Jewish, but marrying a Catholic. Jewish weddings are different- there's no central authority in Judaism on weddings, no required counseling... you don't even need a rabbi, just 2 witnesses and a ketubah. Truth be told, I find the bureaucracy that Catholic weddings are infused with to be a little tedious (not the counseling specifically, but all the forms... like the dispensation to be allowed to marry).

To get the Church's permission to marry, you have to do one-on-one counseling with a Deacon or Priest and go to some kind of counseling class. Married in the Catholic Church (MICC) is a 2 day program which started with dinner on Friday night and ended with mass on Saturday afternoon. It's one of a few ways to satisfy the counseling class requirement. Unlike the more prevalent Engaged Encounter, this is a commuter program, which means you go home on Friday night rather than sleep in a dorm.  My worst fear was that we were walking into a room full of fanatics who would lecture us for our bad decision to marry outside our faiths. That was unfounded. Everyone was close to our age and seemed normal enough, although there wasn't a lot of interaction with the other couples.

The program consisted of 7 discussions, each led by a different married couple. They would talk about the topic and how it relates to their own experiences for about 30 minutes, then we would have about 10 minutes to do the worksheets in the provided workbook solo, then go discuss the topics with our future spouse until the hour was up.
The topics were:
  • Two Become One! How can this be? (About communication)
  • Sacramental Marriage (About why a marriage is better than just shacking up and living in sin forever.)
  • God's Plan for Sexuality and Family (the Natural Family Planning and No Sex Before Marriage talks. Or, as you might call it, the "closing the barn door after the horses escaped" talk.)
  • What Shall We Do? (Applying the 10 commandments to marital communication)
  • What Am I Bringing to the Altar? (How your personal history and family history can help or hinder your marriage and communication)
  • Letting God be an Active Partner in Your Marriage (Praying together)
  • Getting Good at Forgiving (Actually more about Confession than how to forgive your spouse)
There was also a Q&A session with the church's priest, where we could anonymously write questions on slips of paper and put them in the bucket for him to answer. The weekend also included time for confession and mass, but both were optional.

Some of the discussions were pretty good. The communication one (which also talked a little about budgeting) was pretty useful. The workbook contained a formula for having a fair and productive argument, which Dan and I actually used as a jumping off point to work through one of our biggest issues- What to do when we are 1 married couple owning 2 homes? We actually have been fighting on and off about that since getting engaged, and it's something that I worry about a lot since I view it as a serious financial stressor and barrier to the next step (the rule is no babies until we only have 1 house, because babies are expensive). We worked out a plan, and I am already more relaxed about it. So that's pretty awesome.

Some of the other sessions also gave us some interesting things to think about and maybe go back to the workbook and discuss, on another day. There was no painful icebreakers, no standing in front of the audience to give your perspective, and it was nice to spend time with my fiance and talk about things. I also enjoyed the Ask a Priest segment, which might have been more interesting for me than most since I know less about Catholicism (and still regard priests as something of an oddity... it's the celibacy thing).

Now for the bad news. I can't say the "sex talk" was all bad, but I definitely have some gripes. The host couple said that they throw different angles out, hoping one will stick, and they certainly did. Everything from "Natural Family planning is more natural than putting drugs in your body" to "NFP couples are less likely to get divorced" to "NFP is the way God intended it." I suppose my two biggest issues with the talk were:
  1. Misinformation and half-truths: Birth control pills do increase your risk of certain cancers, but also decrease your risk of other cancers. Couples who use NFP do have a lower divorce rate, but the study has not proved that NFP is the cause. The focus on negative pill side effects goes overboard by not just avoiding but obscuring (like with the cancer thing) the positive side effects.
  2. I'm still not convinced of the spiritual angle: Nobody has really been able to explain to me why using NFP is really different, in the eyes of God, than other birth control methods. They say you cannot "separate the unitive and procreative natures of sex," but if you only have sex when you aren't fertile then you're still doing that.
    The supplementary reading material for the sex talk.
 The other issue we had is that the course basically ignored interfaith couples. The lecture on why you need to get married in the church focused only on Sacramental marriage as a spiritual commitment. We can't have a sacramental marriage (only for a couple in which both are baptized), so should we not even bother? There was also a lecture on the importance of canonical form in your wedding and "doing it the right way", although Dan and I will be getting a dispensation for that so we can include Jewish elements and not have it in a church. Does that make our marriage wrong?
I don't think they believe these things, but I think a lot of the language used was unnecessarily excluding or hurtful to interfaith couples. I think that a short term solution would be to try to be more sensitive to the audience (we were not the only interfaith couple there, although we might have been the only one where both were not Christian), but that the real long term goal should be to offer a class specifically for interfaith couples. Sure an hour session on the 10 commandments doesn't hurt, but an hour (or more- it's a big topic!) on the unique challenges to interfaith couples could have been more helpful.

So there you have my thoughts on the weekend. Hopefully if you found this while looking for info about MICC, I was helpful. Of course this is one woman's opinion, and a non-Catholic one at that... but at least it's something.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Happened In Vegas...

...stays in Vegas gets blogged about by Wednesday.
A group of my best girls and I headed to Vegas this weekend for my bachelorette party. I know I'm not getting married for a few months, but we all needed to travel and fit everyone's work schedules and the holidays are in there so... well, we went in October. So sue us.

Friday morning, bright dark and early, Dan's sister Emily and I headed to the airport to fly to Vegas. (She drove in from New Orleans on Thursday to be my travel buddy.) We arrived in Las Vegas 5 hours later, at 10am Pacific time, and met up with my bff Ali and Dan's cousin Mary.
Ali, Me, Mary, and Emily exploring.
We rented a car for the airport runs and set about preparing for the weekend: hotel, lunch (LV has approximately 500 Subway restaurants, its so weird), grocery run for snacks, liquor store run, airport run, airport run.  Finally at 6pm, my sister Heather arrived and we were all together.  We returned the car same day to the Hertz in the Riviera hotel, super conveniently walking distance from the hotel. First item of business: underwear games...

Then we got dressed up for a night on the town. My party planner Meg couldn't choose between cowboys and nerds so we dressed up as both!

There were penis straws...
And Toby Keith.
Emily, Meg, Mary, Toby, Me, Ali, Heather, and Deb. The whole gang!
(Ok so that's not actually Toby- I'm sure you were fooled! But we did go to his bar and do some dancing.)

The next morning we took our time getting up, then headed for a walk around Vegas. We ended up at the Wynn for a crazy lunch buffet. I didn't take food pictures (too busy scarfing) but it was DELICIOUS.


 Afterwards, we took a little walking tour of the hotels:


Walking down the Strip.
Caesar's Palace.


I was told we had to be ready at 5, but wasn't told why. The reason? A LIMO!

It was super cool to ride around Vegas in a limo, drinking champagne and feeling like fancy ladies.

We visited the Las Vegas sign. "I thought it was bigger." "That's what she said."

And Elvis.
Then headed to a fancy dinner, followed by a show. We saw Cirque du Soileil Zumanity, which we picked at a discount ticket place because it was the right time and the right price. Turns out, it was all about sex... and mostly topless. Perfect for a bachelorette party, but totally by accident.
We were supposed to go clubbing, but I'm lame. So most of us went to bed at 1, while Meg and Heather headed out to a club until almost 4am!

The weekend finished up with a relaxing pool day Sunday.

Then we headed to Miracle Mile shops for a sushi buffet and some fun and games.

Me and Celine. I threatened to be her biggest fan
because nobody wanted to see her show.

We stopped at the Bellagio to watch the fountains...

And Caesar's so Meg could put $1 in the penny slots. She walked away with $3!
Lucky Lady!

Afterwards, we headed home to empty the fridge (aka drink all the wine) and play some Cards Against Humanity.

It was an awesome trip! I was so glad to have all my favorite ladies together for some fun nights. Can't wait to see everyone again in February!
Me winning Cards Against Humanity. Which apparently makes me the most horrible person there.
But isn't my Bachelorette sash fun!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Five Random Things

1. So, you might have noticed this blog was a little light on something lately... Running. Yeah, since the half marathon (over a month ago) I haven't run at all. Whoops. Tomorrow is Columbus Day so the federal employees have the day off and I have nothing on my work calendar (yes I have work to do, but no specific meetings or anything). I'm taking advantage of not having to be at work early to head out on a run.  I'm hoping for an easy 3 miles or so, and looking forward to running in cool fall air rather than sweltering summer heat. Hopefully it goes ok!

2.  I have noticed myself get a little, um, squishier since we stopped running regularly and I'd like to turn that around. So I'm on the look out for a strength training routine to get into, to mix with some regular short runs. Anyone have a good workout routine that doesn't require much equipment?

3. My Google Reader has been at above 400 for weeks, so today I finally just did some reading, skipping, and then hitting "mark all as read" to clear it out a little bit. Now it's at 243. So... that's progress! I wish I had time to read all the posts and comment on everything but that's not realistic, at least for now.

4. I got a new Kindle! I resisted for awhile, but it was actually planning the honeymoon that got me thinking about getting one. I don't want to take up any valuable suitcase space that could be for clothes! (I'm a notorious over-packer; I like to have choices, even on the last day of vacation) Then I heard rumblings that there was gonna be a new Kindle so I waited. It got announced a month ago and I ordered one right away but had to wait another month until they shipped on October 1st. Now it's here and I realized that I don't even know what to read. I usually just wander around the bookstore reading back covers on things that look interesting, but that's harder to do virtually. And there's SO MANY choices. What's the best thing you've read lately?

5. We had our first real cold front of the season today, where the high didn't get above 70. I know that's still t-shirt weather, but it's nice to not sweat. Dan and I are taking advantage of it to roast a chicken on the grill (in the south our grilling season starts when everyone else's ends!) so I'm gonna head over to his house for dinner.

Here's some running motivation for us all. You're never too busy, you just have to make the time. Have a good week!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wedding Planning Update- 4 months

September was a crazy month. Between our Disney Vacation, the Jewish holidays, and a death in the family, not much wedding planning (or blogging) got done. Here's what was accomplished in September:
  • Hired a florist.
  • Found suits for the guys.
    It's difficult to see in the picture but it's a charcoal suit with little tiny squares (I'm told that's called hammerhead, which means exactly ZERO to me) woven through. Up close it has a bit of texture. It's pretty snazzy. We got them from Jos A. Bank for $200 each (6 suits) and they are going to ship them for no cost to us to the local stores for each of our groomsmen (scattered in 4 different states- VA, MO, FL, and CO) which is nice.

  • All my bridesmaids have ordered their dresses. My sister's should be in any day! Good work ladies! Can't wait to have some of those pics to share with you.
  • Ordered our Ketubah
    A Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract. Traditionally it's like a prenup which protected the bride from being destitute in case of divorce, since women had no prospects and no property in those days. It's actually extremely forward thinking for it's time. However, ours doesn't have the traditional legal language which is required for a wedding between two Jews, we chose instead an interfaith text that is basically a restatement of our vows. We will sign it during the ceremony, along with 2 witnesses. I'm preparing a whole post on our Ketubah, coming soon.
  • Approved our invitations
    The proofs came Friday. Not gonna give anything away there because I want it to be a surprise for our guests. But they are BEAUTIFUL!
  • Took Dan ring shopping.
    My ring was ordered custom to match my curvy engagement ring so that's checked off. But Dan is still looking, he wants some funky metal like Tungsten Carbide so we went around to different jewelry stores so he could try some on and see what's out there. No decisions made yet.
What's next? Well, there is still a ton to do! I need to order the jars for our favors, the bags for our hotel welcome kits, bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts, tasting food, and more

I don't know if I mentioned, but I'm doing my own makeup. This is surprising- or perhaps completely unsurprising- if you know me, since I regularly wear no makeup. Literally on my face 99% of the time is untinted SPF 30 moisturizer. And that's it. If I get "dressed up" it's nude-ish shimmer eyeshadow, mascara, and perhaps lipstick.  So for that reason, I don't want too much makeup on during my wedding and doing my own gives me control over that. But... I don't really know much about doing makeup. So my plan is to go to Sephora and be like "make up my face for my wedding." Then buy some of the stuff they use and practice. And practice, practice, practice. Item #1, learn how to put on eyeliner. Seriously. It seems dangerous, pointy things next to your eye, and I've never done it. But I have heard its kinda a requirement for wedding makeup. So, now's the time to learn!