More than a thousand couples participated in the "Six Evenings" marriage courses in Austria. They have been very successful and can be replicated everywhere.
25. January 2021 - Interview with Father Kuller
The marriage preparation courses at Easter and Holy Week; between Christmas and New Year’s Eve or the Corpus Christi weekend have been for many years in Germany the preferred proposals for couples who want to get married soon.
There is another variable, which had its beginnings in the past. Father Werner M. Kuller, Schoenstatt Father, has taken up this initiative again, with the engaged couples, as an intensive marriage preparation and formation for couples, which takes place close to where the participants live, six afternoons over six weeks. Schoenstatt.com dialogued with Fr. Kuller about his experiences.
Father Kuller, you were for many years, as the father responsible for the families in Austria, the initiator of the Six Afternoons Marriage Preparation Courses, in which 1,100 couples participated.
You recently started with this model in Germany, in the diocese of Münster. Were there any couples interested?
Yes, there were some couples interested, not many. We are organizing courses in 2019 and 2020 and we want to offer them in 2021 as well. Before going to Austria, I offered a Six Afternoon Course at the Schoenstatt Center in Aulendorf, Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. There I realized that these courses need a long and intensive preparation time.
At that time I informed in advance all the priests who were collaborating in that region and the different Schoenstatt structures. It takes time until the information reaches the interested couples. In Austria there is a lot of word of mouth from couples who have participated and have felt it is an important basis for their marriage preparation. There was no need for publicity on our part.
What are the content and methods you work with and who prepares the Six Afternoons courses?
We work as a team. The couple’s guide plays the main role. It must be a stable marriage with a life testimony. They will be the guide in the six afternoons and the contact for the couples.
The program is the same as always: an introductory round, a presentation, a break with canapés, a couples’ talk, a farewell round and a visit to the Schoenstatt Shrine. The presentation of the first afternoon “Dialogue and conflict management” is usually my responsibility. It is especially important for me to welcome the sceptics that evening, so that they come with confidence and so that it is clear: “Nobody here wants to interfere with your relationship. You listen and then do what you want with what you heard. You know what is good for you and what is not. This is your marriage, your relationship and your way to the wedding.
The next two afternoons, as well as the fifth, is perception as husband and wife. We talk about sexuality, dealing with the family of origin, time, money, the distribution of roles. These topics are presented by various couples. The fourth evening on the sacrament of marriage is given by Sister M. Gertraud, who works with families in the diocese. The sixth meeting is with me again. It is a Saturday afternoon and we talk about the preparation of the wedding. We discuss church questions with ideas for the presentation of the wedding Mass, reflection on customs, etc.
In a joint mass, certificates of participation are given to the couples. This is followed by a meal, in which each couple contributes with a buffet. It is a joy to see an atmosphere of trust, closeness and togetherness at the end of each Six Afternoons course.
Is it difficult to motivate participant couples to meet for six weeks?
No, not at all, that has never been an issue. Couples find the meetings exciting, interesting and important in preparing their own marriage path.
Is it possible that during the development of the Six Afternoons, the couple breaks up, because they realize that they don’t fit together?
In my experience in Austria I can say that approximately 10 to 15% cancel their wedding, because they feel that what they have is not enough for a marriage.
What is the advantage, in your opinion, of the Six Evenings Marriage Preparation compared to the compact seminars?
Both course models have their foundation. Each couple will find what suits them best. I think the advantage of the Six Afternoon course is that the couples remain in their reality of life, in which they have normally built their marriage. They can practice couple’s conversations over a six-week period, six times in the course and five times, for one week between each meeting. They must participate together, and interact with the group.
Another advantage is also that the distances between the participants are short, both between the same couple, between the couple and the guiding family, and between the couple or parent and the couple. If there is a problem after a meeting, they take the phone and arrange a meeting with the guide couple or with me. We analyze the difficult point and normally they continue in the relationship without going to marriage counseling, which is much more strenuous, and without getting further hurt in the impasse of the conflict.
Can you give a Six Afternoons course or a compact course to a couple who wants to get married next year?
Yes, if you go to www.abenteuer-ehe.de, you can find all the information there.
What are your future plans for marriage preparation?
A date has been set for another course in the dioceses of Münster in Borken. In the diocese of Cologne, a Six Evening Course will be offered for the first time in 2021 in Maria Rast. We are open to other possibilities. It would be good if in other dioceses such a course could be offered.