Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Big Fat Catholic Wedding: Part II - The FOCCUS Test

Our first step in preparing for a Catholic wedding was to take something called the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, & Study) test. We had been told it was a "compatibility questionnaire with no wrong answers," but we didn't really have any idea what to expect. It seems silly now, but we were a teensy bit nervous, and we coordinated our "official position" on various random things the night before we took the test. Number of lunches/dinners eating out per week? We agreed on 4. What percentage of the clothing budget goes to me? We agreed on 70%. Of course, those things weren't on the test at all. Haha.

To take the test, they put us into two separate rooms, and logged us into computers. The test consisted of about 160 statements, and we had to click "Agree" or "Disagree" or "Undecided." Easy peasy.

Wondering what was on it? I'll share. :)

The test has 16 categories, with about 10 questions each. They're all randomly shuffled. A few examples...

The "Lifestyle Expectations" category had statements like these:
We are in agreement about the husband and wife roles each of us expects of the other in our marriage relationship.
I fully agree with my future spouse's occupation or career plans.

The "Friends and Interests" category:
We have friends that support the beliefs and lifestyle we value.
My future spouse has too few interests and activites apart from me.

The "Personal Issues" category:
I see myself as competent and confident.
I am uncomfortable with the amount my future spouse drinks.

The "Personality Match" category:
My future spouse's sense of humor sometimes causes problems between us.
My future spouse and I agree on how much time each of us needs to spend alone.

Then there are other categories like Communication, Problem Solving, Spirituality, Parenting, Extended Family, Sexuality, Readiness, Marriage Covenant, and Financial. I wish I could share them all with you, because I thought the test was really comprehensive and wonderful!

Things I really liked about the test:
  • It wasn't very "churchy" at all. It said "We have discussed and agreed on the method of family planning we will use," rather than "We will be using NFP as our family planning method." It said "We agree on how much money we will allocate to church donations," rather than "We will donate 10% of our income to the Church." Way to go FOCCUS test!
  • It didn't stop short of including slightly taboo topics like "I am uncomfortable with some sexual activities my marriage partner may ask of me" and "I am concerned that my spouse's use of marijuana or other drugs could negatively affect our marriage." I happily answered DISAGREE! on both, but was still glad that such things were included.
  • One of the sections addressed religion in our marriage with statements like "I consider a personal faith in Jesus Christ an important ingredient to our marriage" and "I am comfortable asking my future spouse to pray with me."
Things I really didn't like:
  • We had to pay $25 to take it. Boo.
  • They told us it had no wrong answers. It obviously did. I mean, who doesn't know that the correct answer to "I am concerned I am marrying too soon" is a big fat "Disagree?"
  • Two or three of the questions were a little ambiguous. Example: "I can only be happy if I'm married." I put Disagree (I'm currently not married, and I'm happy!). J put Agree (He'll be unhappy if we keep dating for another 10 years and never get married). For the record, my answer was "right." :o)
Overall, it was a really great tool to use for assessing our opinions and agreement on things we might not have otherwise thought about. It was sooo comprehensive, and affirming for J and I because we agreed on nearly everything on it! I would definitely reccommend the FOCCUS or something like it to every engaged couple...it was just a really good tool that covered a really wide variety of topics, all of which were good things to think about before getting married. I wish I could email a copy to every single one of you and let you see for yourself!! Has anyone else taken the FOCCUS, or a similar compatibility test?

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