Although divorce only became legal in Spain in 1981, its rate is now one of the highest in the EU, at 57%.
In order to correct this problem The Catholic church in Spain is to put engaged couples on marriage guidance courses lasting two to three years.
At the moment, couples are given 20 hours of guidance. “Marriage training cannot be done in 20 hours,” said Mario Iceta, the Bishop of Bilbao and chair of the Church committee behind the initiative. “To become a priest requires seven years in the seminary, so how can we say it’s 20 hours to become a husband, wife, father and mother?” Couples are expected to attend fortnightly sessions over the two to three years, during which time they are encouraged to remain chaste. The course is divided into 12 subject headings, including communication, conflict resolution and “the beauty of sexuality”.
My take on it: My wife and I were married as mature adults by a charming young (unmarried) Episcopal minister, who required us to have three advisory sessions on how to conduct a successful marriage. We politely concurred, but after the second session he declared it a waste of time. “You know more about it than I do,” he said.
I have no problem with an outsider laying down the rules about joint 50/50 effort around the marital household to young men spoiled by their mothers. Badly needed by some. But by Catholic priests who have no experience of living with a person of the opposite sex? And fortnightly sessions over over three years? As for chastity, good luck with that!
I suspect no amount of well-meant advice from a priest is going to alter the statistics on divorce. Other societal trends are at work.