Apr 26, 2011


Last night, Mr. B and I met with our deacon to take the FOCCUS test, which is a compatibility inventory the Catholic church makes you take before you get married. Its goal is simply to help couples figure out what topics they need to discuss more; it doesn’t indicate future marital success or failure. Since it seems to be something that a lot of people are nervous or confused by, I thought I’d discuss our experience.

The test was straightforward. We answered a battery of 164 questions (took about 20 minutes) on various aspects of marriage, including children, money management, our relationship, attitudes, sex, and for us, a special section on interfaith couples (he's Jewish, I'm Catholic). You fill out a Scantron form, agreeing, disagreeing, or claiming uncertainty on the statement. Some sample statements include:

·         We are in agreement about the roles of husband and wife in our marriage relationship
·         I am concerned that in-laws may interfere in our marriage
·         My future spouse and I agree that our marriage commitment means we intend to pledge love under all circumstances.
·         We are open to having children
·         I want a strong sexual relationship (my super mature response to that question was to text Mr. B during the test saying, “Eeek a sex question!”)
·         I am concerned about my partner’s gambling/drug/drinking habits

The test basically looks like this:

It gets scored by the FOCCUS people and returned to our deacon, who calls us if there's anything he wants us to discuss, or leaves us alone if he thinks we did fine.

My parents were horrified at the whole idea of the FOCCUS, calling it an “invasion of privacy” and “none of the church’s business.” Honestly, I feel exactly the opposite- I think the church is simply recognizing how many failed marriages there are, and is just trying to give us as as good of a start as they can. I thought it was a good idea, and Mr. B, ever the good sport, agreed, even calling it "fun."

Afterward, we did discuss some of our interfaith issues with the deacon, who I really, really like. He’s an old Jersey City cop with a booming voice, and I find him to be extremely respectful, helpful, and fair to both our religions. He gave us a lot of advice on our situation, underscoring it all with the idea that a happy and working marriage was the paramount concern, and that religion should bring us together, not apart. He told us we should make sure our kids learn about and celebrate the holidays of both, but gave us no pressure on which one to choose. 

Anyway, our interfaith situation has made me obsessed with learning more about our religions. In keeping with today's Catholic theme, here's some marriage prep sites I've found, which at the very least might be some food for thought during a slow workday!
  • Catholic Wedding Help: Rules, planning help, answers to questions, and wedding resources such as vows, music, and programs.
  • For Your Marriage: Catholic marriage website with resources, discussions, and articles for engaged and  married couples, and couples with kids.
  • FOCCUS: the test's website
Anyone else take the FOCCUS yet? Did you like or hate that it was a requirement?


  1. we're getting married in the catholic church and I have NEVER even heard of this test! My parents would have had the exact same reaction as yours, but I like your attitude and I agree with you. I'm going to head over to that website right now and check it out: Maybe me and my fiance can take it online!

  2. i am not catholic but would love such a test! i think it opens up the lines of communication!