Catholics, like other Christians, believe that marriage is a lifelong commitment made before God, but Catholic marriages fall apart just as surely as those outside the Church. Where should a Catholic couple go when they're looking for marriage counseling, and what should they expect once they get there?
Here are some questions frequently asked about Catholic marriage counseling.
Ask your pastor or call the diocesan office for a list of Catholic counselors or social services in your area. Counselors also advertise in parish bulletins or on local Catholic radio.
Yes, ideally. The goal of a marriage counselor is to help you discern what's wrong in your marriage and how to fix it. Catholic marriage counselors do that by showing you ways to integrate the truths of the Christian faith into your everyday life as a couple. A Catholic counselor is going to approach marriage with the belief that it is a covenant between a man and a woman, that it is meant to be a lifelong partnership, and that God desires it for our good—meaning to help us lead richer and happier lives.
If the circumstances warrant it, a Catholic counselor might suggest an annulment. An annulment, though, is not the same as a divorce, and the conditions under which the Church grants an annulment are complicated. Rather than counseling divorce, a Catholic marriage counselor might suggest a separation, as well as a need for forgiveness and continuing dialogue. For a couple wanting to save their marriage, there are very few differences that cannot be reconciled.