Daily Grind

How I stopped worrying and learned to love Catholic pre-wedding counseling

The theme of Sunday”s Catholic group pre-wedding counseling was “Conflict in your household: Causes, Manifestations, Consequences, and Solutions.”

Just a few of the questions asked at the end:

Does the Catholic church allow divorce? No. Occasionally annulment. But it’s hard. Why are you asking this question when you’re about to get married, anyway?

Today, women keep talking about “emancipation” and “equality.” Does this mean that household tasks have to be shared too? That’s between you and your wife, but the church recommends that if both partners work outside the home, both partners should probably be working inside the home too.

What if the in-laws see my husband working, and start making comments about how he’s henpecked by his wife? Take care of your husband’s pride, but he should be courageous enough to stand up to his family. He loves you! Of course he wants to help you in the kitchen!

Isn’t it better to live together and have children first, to get to know each other, before getting married? Definitely not! Are you marrying a woman, or are you marrying her womb? How many women are you going to try and get pregant before you succeed? When you get married, you are starting a new life with someone, whether they’re fertile or not!

If a woman gets sick and can’t make love, should her husband wait for her to get better, or can he go looking elsewhere in the interim? He should wait. A woman should never turn down sex unless she has a good reason (being tired doesn’t count!), but if she’s sick, her husband has a duty to love her and wait for her to heal.

Daily life is all about traditional gender-based roles

I wonder how different these sessions are back home in the States. I can’t imagine a woman actually having to ask if her husband needs to be faithful if she’s sick. I also can’t imagine a man daring to stand up and ask if he really needs to help out with household chores.

From my Western feminist rugged individualist completely fair and balanced point of view, a lot of the questions from women asked the church to confirm that their future husbands should be faithful and participate equally in the work of running a family, while a lot of the questions from men were about when infidelity is acceptable, and if there’s anyway they can get out of household chores. Says a lot about this society we live in, I think.

For the most part, the men in the room dominated the conversation. I said nothing, as the whole session was in Fon, and Bertrand was translating as we went along. Also, sometimes I get tired of being the humorless foreign feminist.

Lots of pleasant surprises, although our next session is Natural Family Planning, so we’ll see. We were chatting with another couple before the session, and they complained tht the Catholic church is extreme in its view of family planning. No comdoms? Are they out of their minds??!?!? I really enjoyed the look into the church’s official position here in Benin. Yes, women should make babies and be their primary care takers, but jeez, men, can’t you help occasionally?aracer

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