The Roman Catholic Church in Spain has significantly multiplied the amount of time couples have to spend in premarital classes before they tie the knot.
Spanish Episcopal Conference announced on Thursday that a new course will now last two to three years, up from just 20 hours previously required.
The programme called “On the Path Together” has twelve areas of focus including “the beauty of sexuality”, “what is love?”, “conflict resolution” and “spirituality in courtship”.
According to the programme's website, the main objective is to “accompany the bride and groom in their own discernment of the marriage vocation and the recognition of the true choice of the future spouse”.
It states that it is unlike traditional premarital courses where the couple has already decided they will get married. This new training is an “accompaniment in the time that courtship lasts to discern about the vocation to love through marriage and family”.
Monsignor Mario Iceta, Bishop of Bilbao and the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference’s subcommittee for the family and the defence of life, said his experience of marrying couples has shown more work needed to be done before heading to the altar.
“You can’t prepare for marriage in 20 hours,” he said at a press conference.
“To be a priest, you need to spend seven years in the seminary, so what about being a husband, wife, mother or father? Just 20 hours?”
When providing premarital training as a priest he would tell couples: “You’re here because, according to the statistics, 40 percent of marriages break down within five years and 60 per cent within 15 years – and that’s what we’re here to prevent.’”
In 2006 divorce rates in Spain went up 74 per cent from the previous year when a new law made it easier and faster to get a divorce.
Back then Spanish Episcopal Conference lamented that it was not good for people or society.