Tales From Pre-Cana

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Earlier this week, I had dinner with two dear friends in Georgetown. And as the cold winds howled outside, we huddled in front of the fireplace munching on crab cakes and cheeseburgers and friend M told terrifying ghost stories. And by that I mean she told me about the first two weeks of her pre-Cana experience.

You see M and I got engaged within a month of each other. She too was raised a good Catholic girl and wants a full mass for the wedding ceremony. And she too has a fiancé who each time he starts talking in front of the priest runs the risk of having their wedding abruptly relocated to the Lil’ Chapel o’ Dashed Expectations. In her case, her non-Catholic fiancé is well within his rights to be expressing mystification with the tenets of the Catholic faith, because it’s the first time he’s hearing them. Mine has no such defense. He’s just being ornery. But the end result is the same: at some point in the last two months both M and I have hissed, at least once, with the urgency of the ringleader of an imminent bank heist: “Just keep your yap shut and we won’t have any problems.”

We start pre-Cana in two weeks. As dinner was winding down, M warned me with the solemnity of a senior camp counselor cautioning a junior camp counselor about the risk of lockjaw during a blowjob that we might get a copy of a book called Marriage is for Keeps plunked in our hands. The best part of this tome? Not the admonition that looking at Playboy or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition mean the relationship is seriously flawed. (Yes, that’s really in there.) Rather, the highlight appears to be the section on natural family planning.

For those of you going to hell because you’re actually trying to prevent blessed miracles from entering your life, this approach relies on monitoring one’s various bodily fluctuations to determine the pitch-perfect time to make a baby. It requires the woman take her temperature every morning, on the theory that elevated body temperature means it’s go-time for Jesus lovers. And, in a present to cynical bridal bloggers everywhere, it advises the husband-to-be that while his wife-to-be is taking her temperature, he would be well advised to…wait for it…spend the time praying.

Across the table, friend A thanked her lucky stars that her parents had the good sense to be Methodist.

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7 Responses to “Tales From Pre-Cana”

  1. Shelly C Says:

    And that m’dear, is why you do the weekend crash-course pre-Cana. It’s so condensed, you sort of breeze right by that rhythm-method thing. And the weekend courses are so packed, the leaders probably won’t notice you answering e-mails on your handheld. And I don’t remember that temperature-pray thing at all. Wonder if that was when significant other and I were playing hangman in the margins of our workbook…

  2. Bridal Bird Says:

    Ha! I’m not positive, but I’m fairly certain you guys are going to Hell then. And your little dogs, too.
    Yes, we’ve planned badly. Although we’re at least going to be in a group. Brave M is doing one-on-one!

  3. rcr Says:

    Huh, I have it backwards – I usually do my praying *after* I suspect we may have made a baby. I hear the words “5 days late” and I’m a praying machine.

  4. Beth Says:

    FYI, the Rhythm Method is not the same as NFP. It’s a common misconception. Surprisingly, NFP is pretty effective. If you talk to couples that say they were practicing NFP but have a ton of kids, they’ll tell you a) they planned it that way or b) they knew they would probably get pregnant, but in the heat of the moment they didn’t care.

  5. Bridal Bird Says:

    Nice, Rambler. Something tells me you’ve got your own case worker up There at this point.

    Thanks Beth. Post amended to reflect sweet, delicious factiness.

  6. Tacoma Says:

    I did the weekend rush session and as a non catholic I’m still damaged by
    A) Hearing about the sex lives of people who’ve been married for 40 years (they led the class, totally sweet, but I REALLY didn’t need to know everything)
    B) The damn prayer candle thing (where we had to make up a prayer for our marriage, and my old school Catholic spouse didn’t help a damn bit)
    C) Sitting on folding chairs for 4-3 hour sessions. I’m not 18 anymore, my back is 31 and irritable.
    Also- NP is crappy because it basically says that at my horniest time of month (I.E. Ovulation) I’m supposed to say no to sex if I don’t want any rugrats. Great.

  7. regs Says:

    How is it possible that this story is even more hysterical in your version than the original one I heard from M myself? And that was pretty funny. You two should write a how to manual on marrying the Catholic girl of your dreams.

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