Thursday, September 13, 2012

Viva Pre-Cana: Here Comes the Bride, All Dressed in Realism

To me, the most romantic words in the world aren’t simply “Will you marry me?” I’d add: “…and start a Pre-Cana course right away?”

Okay, for those of you who weren’t raised as Roman Catholics, let me backtrack. You see, although we of Team Bartilucci are native New Yorkers, we’ve lived in northeastern Pennyslvania since 2001. But we still watch the New York-based morning show GoodDay New York (GDNY)even more so since one of our favorite TV personalities, Dave Price, recently returned to the show as co-anchor with Rosanna Scotto.

This morning, while Vinnie and I prepared for the day ahead, our genial co-hosts were interviewing guest Vikki Ziegler, Esq., high-profile matrimonial lawyer and author of The Pre-Marital Planner (from Imagine, a Charlesbridge Imprint).  Not to put the whammy on it, but Vinnie and I have been a happy couple since we met in 1985, and a happily-married couple since 1989, so it was refreshing to find that Ms. Ziegler’s book was about keeping couples happy and thriving together with refreshingly sensible advice—no small feat, considering almost 50% of marriages end in divorce. Having come from a family of much-married people, I was intrigued to hear how Ms. Ziegler had succeeded when so many others haven’t.

Here's a link to the video.
It's an asphalt jungle out there for
couples who don't plan their future well!

Would you believe the secret of Ms. Ziegler’s success is to plan ahead and be honest with yourself and your beloved about pretty much every aspect of your life?  You know—good old common sense!  She’s big on talking wisely about every crucial pre-marital concern, from whether or not to have kids, to being honest with yourself and your beloved about your finances, and more. It might not sound romantic, but let’s face it, everyone has to eat and pay bills, no matter how much in love you are. 

I knew Ms. Ziegler was on the right track when she brought up a subject Vinnie and I have been touting to every young couple I’ve known who wanted to jump the broom: a
Pre-Cana! Vinnie can vouch for me cheering and hooting and hollering! This rite originated with Catholic couples, but I’ve known others who found Pre-Cana-style courses helpful, too (as you’ll see shortly). The name comes from John 2:1 and the wedding feast in Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine. Catholic couples are required to take six-week course before they can be married in a Catholic church. A priest or deacon leads six weekly sessions with support from another married Catholic couple.Some couples even do online programs, like when one of the affianced must be deployed overseas (damn war!).

But the cool thing about the Pre-Cana is that even if you’re not Catholic or at all religious, the topics discussed are helpful and sensible for pretty much anyone.  In addition to faith, here are the topics that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops consider as “must-have conversations” before couples get hitched:

  • Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Careers
  • Finances
  • Intimacy/Cohabitation
  • Children
  • Commitment
Vikki Ziegler shows brides-to-be how to
make marriage go swimmingly!

There, that wasn’t so scary, was it?  Heck, the book even goes into finance charts and lengthy questionnaires that can eliminate nasty postnuptial surprises. Yes, I hear all the romantics out there whining that this kind of preparation takes all the romance out of love.  Well, sorry to break it to you, folks, but fights, distrust, disillusionment, and divorce take the romance out of love, too.The Pre-Marital Planner provides smart answers to the fundamental matters that need to be addressed before you enter into the most important relationship in your life.


  1. A six-week course? Interesting. The Lutheran Church required (well . . . more like a very politely worded firm suggestion) Denise and I to have four meetings with Pastor Gibson before he could do the ceremony.

    I know we met with him, but for the life of me I cannot remember a single thing which was discussed during any of the meetings. I'm betting it was really profound, though.

    1. Don't fret, Mon Oncle Michel; when Vinnie and I took the Pre-Cana course back in the day, it was a whirlwind for us, too, but it was worth it! And it was profound, don't forget profound! :-)

  2. I think the Pre-Cana is an excellent idea. Very good advice! My husband and I took a similar type of course - can't remember the name - and it was helpful. We just celebrated our 17th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Yay!

    1. Ruth, all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ wish you and your hubby a belated but heartfelt Happy 17th Anniversary! And despite my playful remarks, the Pre-Cana was definitely worth it. It helped that the folks who helped us through the Pre-Cana were pleasant and upbeat!

  3. I almost forgot: shortly before our wedding my Mom presented me with a slender red-bound volume which she (very bashfully) explained was a "Luthern Marriage Manual".

    Yeah! Some manual! Complete with black-and-white photos and everything!

    It is to my everlasting credit that, when presented with the book, I didn't come out with some remark that, in retrospect, would've been disasterous at best (and would've given my Mom outright heart failure at worst). As I recall I think I was flabbergasted that my Mom (of all people) had something like this in her keeping. Granted she'd had four kids, but I'd put down good money betting she still felt the process involved cabbage leaves or some such.

    And I wish I knew what became of that book. I think it got left behind when Denise and I married.

  4. Good article about a sorely needed and much ignored aspect of planning to marry - just plain getting to know each other. At age 18, I jumped into marriage 3 months after falling madly in love, and I don't think we actually talked about anything in depth at that time. At that age, I figured most men were like my Dad, and assumed anybody I could fall in love with must be like him. NOT! They didn't have Pre-Cana at that time, and it would have been very enlightening and very sobering. Pre-Cana type programs should be required before any marriage, civil as well as religious. Something has to be done about the divorce rate, and this could help immensely. Good job, Dorian!

    1. Good Point, Becky. Tragically, too many people think that a wedding makes a marriage. It Doesn't! A genuine relationship just doesn't come with the marriage license, it takes actual effort to build (heck . . . Denise and I have been together now for thirty-five years and we're still having to screw in the little bits).


      To paraphrase Ursula K. LeGuin: "Love is like bread. It needs to be made again and again".

    2. Michael, I wish all of us veteran married couples could get the young-about-to-be-married couples to share our experiences, kinda like an "intervention" with a happy ending! Great comments, my friend!

    3. Becky, thanks for your kind praise and comments! It's ironic that sometimes people who've been lucky enough to grow up with a loving, sensible family life innocently assume the people they fall in love with will be just as wonderful. I've recommended younger friends in love to go for Pre-Canas or similar programs, with great success and relief. As The Jackson Five once sang, "The love you save may be your own!" :-)