Premarital Counseling

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Canon I.18.3(c) (2015) requires that Couples seeking Marriage in the Episcopal Church be instructed as to the nature, meaning, and purpose of Holy Matrimony by the Member of the Clergy, or that they have both received such instruction from persons known by the Member of the Clergy to be competent and responsible.

Premarital Counseling at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church normally consists of three to five meetings with the Officiant or another member of the clergy. The sessions normally last one to two hours each. All couples must, in consultation with the counselor, draft written statements to the bishop explaining what the service means and how marriage will change their lives.

During the first session, the Counselor (normally the Officiant) gathers basic information from the Couple about the anticipated Marriage and reviews with the Couple the process of preparing for Marriage. The Counselor administers a standardized Inventory developed by Life Innovations, Inc. The Inventory takes about 30 minutes to complete, and a follow-up session is scheduled.

Subsequent sessions focus on the results of the Inventory. The Inventory data is confidential. The Inventory is not a test to determine suitability for Marriage, but rather is a diagnostic tool designed to help the Counselor focus objectively on critical relationship issues. Later sessions focus on ceremonial planning.

Couples are required to sign a Declaration of Intention at least 30 days prior to the Marriage as part of the Premarital Counseling process.

Premarital Counseling can be conducted by a trained counselor outside St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church at the discretion of the Officiant. Normally, such counseling is conducted by an Episcopal priest.

The Officiant or the Bishop may require additional counseling by a certified therapist, which is particularly likely if either party has been married before.

Important: The clergy are not required to perform Marriages, and may decline to do so for any reason, including the outcome of Premarital Counseling.

Last updated: October 27, 2015 at 16:47 pm

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