How It Works

Program Components | Program Format Options | Video Sample of Session 1
 

Program Components

Participant’s Workbook

Using very practical, multi-sensory, and active learning techniques, the content found in the Participant’s Workbook focuses on marriage as a communion of persons, just as the Holy Trinity is a communion of persons. Marriage is also presented as a visible sign of Christ’s total self-giving relationship with the Church. This workbook is attentive to various learning styles and needs as well as cultural diversity through the use of language, games, role playing, and self-assessments. (Order one workbook per participant so each person can answer questions from his or her perspective.)

Facilitator Guide

The Together in God’s Love Facilitator’s Guide provides a flexible, unique format that can be used in large group formats, multi-day meetings, or by sponsor couples. It combines the best of each approach to maximize participant engagement and comprehension, while minimizing leader training and facilitation expertise.

This guide is presented in a systematic and sound manner that can be used along with the corresponding Sessions DVD. Follow-up reflection and discussion can be led by one facilitator and/or sponsor couples. If there are not enough sponsor couples to pair with each engaged couple, the engaged couples can be assigned to small groups of three-to-four couples. Group discussions can then be facilitated by a single sponsor couple.

If you are using one facilitator and several sponsor couples, note the features such as “Self Assessment,” “Questions for Reflection,” “Communication Role-Play Scenario,” “An Empathy Exercise,” etc., in the Participant’s Workbook. Discussions based on these features can be led by the sponsor couples. Sponsor couples may also choose to have the engaged couples consider some of the “Questions for Reflection” on their own. Each couple could move to more secluded areas of the meeting space for these private reflection times.

It is critical that facilitators and sponsor couples be very familiar with the material in the Participant’s Workbook, as this will assist in revisiting the main points and facilitating discussion of each session. (Order one Facilitator’s Guide for each presenter and/or sponsor couple.)

Sessions DVD

The Sessions DVD uniquely combines relevant cultural references, modern psychology, and Catholic theology, teaching the couples how to live in Christ’s image. For ease of use, the DVD is organized into four segments that correspond with the four sessions of the Together in God’s Love program. (Order one Sessions DVD for each large group or sponsor couple leading a small group.)

Mentor Couple’s Guide

A Mentor Couple’s Guide is included with this program and is recommended for the orientation of mentor couples (married couples that are paired with engaged couples to provide peer support). It presents them with an overview of the Together in God’s Love program as well as a guide for talking with couples who are preparing for marriage. (Order two guides per mentor couple so each person can answer questions from his or her perspective.)

Togetheringodslove.com

Visit this website for free support material exclusively for program directors, facilitators, sponsor couples, and mentor couples. Our website contains timely resources, including:

  • printable outlines for each session
  • liturgy link, including weekly discussion questions tied to the Sunday Gospel
  • Lectionary readings
  • links for resources

Catholicweddinghelp.com

Invite engaged couples to visit catholicweddinghelp.com. This free, unique, and practical website is a step-by-step guide to planning the actual wedding ceremony along with helpful answers to common questions. How to choose readings, music, vows, and many other details to make for a flawless event!

Supplemental Materials

Together in God’s Love is intended to be a stand-alone program of marriage preparation. It is recommended, however, that participants bring Bibles to sessions so that they can refer to relevant passages of Scripture. This is especially helpful for non-Catholics who may be interested in Scripture references given for Catholic teachings and beliefs. We recommend the Catholic Faith and Family Bible (available from Our Sunday Visitor). Aside from this resource, a few supplies are needed for hands-on activities. So, be sure to plan ahead!

This course provides an introduction to Natural Family Planning, but it is recommended that couples take a full course of NFP so they will be adequately prepared to use this technique after they are married. Finally, it is highly recommended that couples preparing for marriage take a standardized premarital inventory, such as the FOCCUS (www.foccusinc.com) or PREPARE (www.prepare-enrich.com) inventories — two inventories used in most Catholic dioceses. Premarital assessment can provide valuable insights into potential future problem areas so that they can be discussed and worked out prior to marriage.

Program Format Options

Together in God’s Love is a flexible program. Typically and ideally, it should be presented in four, weekly, two-hour or 120-minute sessions. It can also be presented a within weekend retreat format. This program is written so that there are an abundance of educational activities and features. Facilitators have the flexibility to make choices among the activities since each program’s format or schedule may vary.

Four Session Format Overview


SESSION 1 (120 minutes total)

Welcome (5 minutes)

Introduction
The Context of Marriage Today (5 minutes)
God’s Plan for Marriage (5 minutes)
Praying Together (5 minutes)

Marriage and Faith
Scavenger Hunt (10 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Faith” segment (8 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
The State of Marriage Today (10 minutes)
God’s Plan and Your Marriage (4 minutes)
In the Image and Likeness of God (4 minutes)
A Sign of Christ and the Church (4 minutes)
Sacraments: Sign and Realities and Saying “Yes” to God’s Gifts (5 minutes)
Baptism and Holy Matrimony (5 minutes)
Your Relationship with Christ and the Church (5 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Lasso (5 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

The Newlywed Game (10 minutes)
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Prayer (5 minutes)

SESSION 2 (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Communication
Welcome and Session DVD: “Marriage and Communication” segment (10 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
What Is “Good Communication?”; Communication and the Trinity (10 minutes)
To Be Understood As to Understand; Communication and the Image of Jesus and the Church (20 minutes)
Styles of Expression; Communication is also Listening; Styles of Listening; Practice Communication! (15 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Trust, Forgiveness and Reconciliation; “I’m Sorry” Letter; “I Forgive You” Letter; An Empathy Letter; When You Are Hurt (15 minutes)
Second Marriage Issues; When Conflicts Get Ugly; Some Words about Domestic Violence; Questions for Reflection (15 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: Bread, Salt and Wine (5 minutes)
Prayer (10 minutes)

SESSION 3 (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Sexuality
Welcome and My Future Family activity (15 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Sexuality” segment (10 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
What the Church Really Teaches about Sex; Sex and the Holy Trinity: Mutual Self-Giving (12 minutes)
Sex and the Holy Trinity: Mutual
Self-Giving (cont.) (8 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Sex and the Image of Christ and His Church: A Total Gift of Self (10 minutes)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Church Teaching on Contraception (20 minutes) Note: an optional activity, this can be read privately, either during the session or at home.
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Cowrie Shell (5 minutes)
Prayer (10 minutes)

SESSION 4 (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Stewardship
Welcome; My Gifts; Self-Assessment (15 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Stewardship” segment (10 minutes)
Letting Your Light Shine; The Blessed Trinity and Stewardship (10 minutes)
The Blessed Trinity and Stewardship (cont.) (10 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

When Struggles Come (15 minutes)
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Exchange of Arras (5 minutes)
The Family Budget and Benchmark Budget (15 minutes)Note: an optional activity, this can be read privately, either during the session or at home.
Seven Secrets to a Successful Marriage (10 minutes)
Feedback Forms (5 minutes)
Closing Prayer (5 minutes)

Retreat Format Overview

As a weekend retreat, all of the major modules can be presented over the course of the weekend. Weekend retreat facilitators will need to be especially organized and prepared, maintain the schedules for activities and presentations you decide upon. However, allow participants time for relaxing and inviting meals, recreation and socializing. This will enrich the experience for them. If the retreat is taking place in a retreat house or larger facility, take advantage of additional space for small group discussions and private reflection by couples. Consider making the following adaptations for the weekend adaptation.

Prayer. Start each session with a brief invocation, but combine the Saturday morning and afternoon prayers into one. Or, include these prayers and participant intentions into the Prayer of the Faithful at Mass. 

Cultural Traditions Moment. Consider presenting all four features at once, but invite questions and sharing.

Reading Time. Ask all participants to read the Introduction and Marriage and Faithby the time they arrive on Friday evening. Urge them to also read or reread each section before the session. 

NFP Speaker. If a certified NFP speaker is available, consider asking the speaker to address couples after the Saturday dinner. This would also free up time Saturday afternoon before Reconciliation and Mass.

FRIDAY EVENING (120 minutes total)

Welcome and Opening Prayer (5 minutes)

Introduction
The Context of Marriage Today (5 minutes)
God’s Plan for Marriage (5 minutes)
Praying Together (5 minutes)

Marriage and Faith
Scavenger Hunt (10 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Faith” segment (8 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
The State of Marriage Today (10 minutes)
God’s Plan and Your Marriage (4 minutes)
In the Image and Likeness of God (4 minutes)
A Sign of Christ and the Church (4 minutes)
Sacraments: Sign and Realities and Saying “Yes” to God’s Gifts (5 minutes)
Baptism and Holy Matrimony (5 minutes)
Your Relationship with Christ and the Church (5 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Lasso (5 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

The Newlywed Game (10 minutes)
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Prayer (5 minutes)

SATURDAY MORNING (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Communication
Morning Prayer
Session DVD: “Marriage and Communication” segment (10 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
What Is “Good Communication?”; Communication and the Trinity (10 minutes)
To Be Understood As to Understand; Communication and the Image of Jesus and the Church (20 minutes)
Styles of Expression; Communication is also Listening; Styles of Listening; Practice Communication! (15 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Trust, Forgiveness and Reconciliation; “I’m Sorry” Letter; “I Forgive You” Letter; An Empathy Letter; When You Are Hurt (15 minutes)
Second Marriage Issues; When Conflicts Get Ugly; Some Words about Domestic Violence; Questions for Reflection (15 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: Bread, Salt and Wine (5 minutes)
Prayer (10 minutes)

Lunch

SATURDAY AFTERNOON (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Sexuality
My Future Family activity (15 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Sexuality” segment (10 minutes)
Self-Assessment (10 minutes)
What the Church Really Teaches about Sex; Sex and the Holy Trinity: Mutual Self-Giving (12 minutes)
Sex and the Holy Trinity: Mutual Self-Giving (cont.) (8 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Sex and the Image of Christ and His Church: A Total Gift of Self (10 minutes)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Church Teaching on Contraception (20 minutes) Note: an optional activity, this can be read privately, either during the session or at home.
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Cowrie Shell (5 minutes)
Prayer (10 minutes)

SATURDAY EVENING

Reconciliation and Preparation for Mass
Mass
Dinner and NFP Speaker or NFP DVD
Movie on a Marriage Theme

SUNDAY MORNING (120 minutes total)

Marriage and Stewardship
Morning Prayer
My Gifts, Self-Assessment (15 minutes)
Session DVD: “Marriage and Stewardship” segment (10 minutes)
Letting Your Light Shine; The Blessed Trinity and Stewardship (10 minutes)
The Blessed Trinity and Stewardship (cont.) (10 minutes)

Break(10 minutes)

When Struggles Come (15 minutes)
Questions for Reflection (10 minutes)
Cultural Traditions Moment: The Exchange of Arras (5 minutes)
The Family Budget and Benchmark Budget (15 minutes) Note: an optional activity, this can be read privately, either during the session or at home.
Seven Secrets to a Successful Marriage (10 minutes)
Feedback Forms (5 minutes)
Closing Prayer (5 minutes)
Conclusion of Retreat

Purpose

The purpose of  “Introduction: The Context of Marriage Today” is to discuss our current time and culture and its impact — positive and negative — on marriage. This important topic is discussed using the framework of Familiaris Consortio, an apostolic exhortation of Blessed Pope John Paul II published in 1981.

Before the Program Begins

If possible, make the Participant’s Workbook available to participants prior to the first session. If you are using the four-session format, ask couples to read both the Introduction (Workbook pages 2-4) and the Marriage and Faith section (Workbook pages 5-18). If the program is being presented in a retreat format, encourage the couples to read through the entire Participant’s Workbook prior to the retreat.

Video Sample of Session 1: Marriage & Faith

 

FREE SAMPLE Downloads

From Session 1: Marriage & Faith

Participant's Workbook
Sample Participant's Workbook
Facilitator's Guide
Sample Facilitator's Guide
Mentor Couple's Guide
Sample Mentor Couple's Guide