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Terry and Michaela, devout Catholic sweethearts in Omaha, Neb., had already mailed wedding invitations when they took the marriage quiz required by their parish church. It might seem strange that the church, which historically encouraged couples to marry to prevent premarital sex, now urges them to take a critical look at their prospective union. Despite its sometimes provocative content, the quiz itself looks like any standardized test.
The quiz's predictions appear to be accurate: According to a 1995 study (by an independent research group at Purdue University), FOCCUS was 80 percent correct at predicting couples' satisfaction by their five-year anniversary. The adoption of FOCCUS by non-Catholics is one indicator of how far the test veers from Catholic tradition.
From the second century until the mid-1960s, the Catholic model of marriage rested on one value: procreation. Since World War II, the church had been offering a kind of groupcounseling known as pre-Cana conferences (named for the biblical wedding).
In the 1980s, Catholic counselors tried out a questionnaire created by two psychologists and two clergymen.
In the careful, neutral wording of psychotherapy, FOCCUS poses questions Catholics may have only explored in the confines of confession. Dahil huling linggo na nating makakasama ang super cool-it na "Luv U", ito na ang final part ng fun and exciting game nila! Watch MYX Celebrity VJ Jailene on My MYX until February 28! Don't forget to follow your favorite music channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Known by the acronym FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study) the questionnaire asked about the couples' attitudes toward topics like money, sex, and gender roles.
Based on answers from the quiz, some priests and lay counselors actively discourage some couples from marrying.
In fact, it has proven so successful at launching happy marriagesa€”and thwarting train wrecksa€”that it has been adopted by more than two-thirds of the nation's dioceses.


In crisp, affectless prose, FOCCUS acknowledges a range of behaviors the church itselfrejects:artificial birth control, premarital sex, homosexual activity. It was only the Second Vatican Council of 1965 that, amid much controversy, reimagined marriage as "an intimate partnership of life and love." It took until 1983 for this definition to enter canon law, the written code governing the workings of the church. These efforts ranged from awkward chats with theparish priest about natural birth control to elaborate retreats in which a team of clergy, financial specialists, mental health advisers, and long-married couples addressed the conundrums newlyweds might face.
Still, FOCCUS proponents say there's little chance couples will misinterpret major issues, such as artificialbirth control, toward which church opposition remains firm. At Rutgers University's National Marriage Project, a secular policy think tank, director David Popenoe praises couples inventories in general for preventing bad marriages and for getting couples accustomed to soliciting outside help.
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Yet FOCCUS is not a religious tool; its questions are stripped of any judgment, and its facilitators are instructed not to use it as a forum to preach or punish. 2 pencil, each respondentscribbles in a bubble marked "Agree," "Disagree," or "Uncertain" for 156 questions that fall under 19 categories. During the discussion phase, facilitators give special attention to red-flag issues such as drug use. For the first time in church history, successful marriagea€”once defined by numerous offspringa€”was equally defined by the quality of the relationship.
In his own practice, Pokorsky forcefully reminds couples of church teachings banning homosexual acts, artificial contraception, and premarital sex. According to some experts, "learnable relationship skills," such as the ability to communicate or argue effectively, are what determine if a marriage will survive. Terry and Michaelaa€”they of the broken Nebraska engagementa€”were just grateful FOCCUS kept them from marrying too quickly.
One thing's for sure, Jairus and Sharlene's dates won't be boring because of their contrasting personalities! In clear percentages, the printout showed a mass of clashing responses to every question about money.


Of the three major pre- marriage questionnaires, FOCCUS is the most widely used, offered by more than 500 Protestant churches as well as non-Christian and secular counselors. For couples rating a seriously bad score, the priest or counselor might urge professional help. Meanwhile, in the late 1960s, when the first no-fault divorce laws appeared, Catholics started to divorce at the same rate as non-Catholics. Markey, an enterprising psychologist at the Center for Family and Marriage in Omaha, Neb., (and a nun), devised with colleagues a more thoroughquestionnaire.
But referring to the national level, where other priests may not do the same, Pokorsky says, "I think there's great danger associated with FOCCUS. The pope and bishops generally pick the doctrinal issues that they want to champion and aren't much affected by grassroots movements or opinion. The year after they called their wedding off, they landed jobs and hashed out their financial roles. Barbara Markey, its creator, "is to confront couples with issues they might not have thought about before." That no one in the church's leadership has questioned her premise shows how much Catholicism's view of marriage has evolved. Or he might gently advise calling the wedding off, a suggestion that would have been unheard of a few decades ago. Watching thousands of parishioners divorce or plead for annulments, priests and other Catholic lay counselors searched for realistic ways to help marriages work.
Clinically tested, the new quiz explored the couple's individual backgrounds, relationship skills, and "bonders" such as children and finances. Taken six months or more before the wedding date, FOCCUS prompts anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent of its respondents to postpone or even scrap their weddings.



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