History of For Better & For Ever
A Brief History….
In 1975, in San Antonio TX, Msgr. Edmond Carmody (later Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi TX) began to train married couples to “sponsor” those preparing for Christian Marriage. Each trained Sponsor Couple agreed to host ~ in their own home ~ a series of 4 to 6 meetings with an engaged couple. This one couple to one couple format provided a higher level of intimacy/witness/flexibility than was possible in traditional (large group) marriage preparation programs. Sponsor couples were able to focus on the particular needs/issues of each engaged couple In addition, sponsor couples claimed the process of sponsoring benefited their own marriage.
In 1980, the publication of For Better and For Ever (Liguori Publications) by Rev. Robert Ruhnke made this program available to Catholic churches of North America. A Spanish edition was published in 1982. These editions went through major updates/revisions in 1989, and again in 1998 when it was published by Marriage Preparation Resources. New editions have been added: A Christian (Protestant) edition in English & Spanish, a Covenant (“secular”) edition in English, and the Catholic edition is also available in Vietnamese and French.
Today, For Better and For Ever continues to get better. The easy to use workbook, the training resources and other links on the web site make it the most comprehensive and yet easy to use of all the commonly used marriage preparation programs.
Engaged couples prepare for the meetings with their Pastor or Marriage Educator and later with their Sponsor Couple by studying specific chapters of For Better and For Ever, answering the questions, and sharing their answers in dialogue with their partner. Each meeting is about 2 – 2 1/2 hours in duration, and is for further conversation and dialogue about the chapters studied. The Sponsor Couple is trained to adapt the program to the needs and interests of each individual couple. The conversations between the engaged couple and the sponsor couple are kept private. And the program does not end with the wedding ceremony. Sponsor couples are trained to follow-up with the newly married couple during their first year(s) of marriage.
For Better and For Ever has become the most widely used program of its kind in the United States, Canada, Guam, and parts of Mexico and Central/South America.
- The couple-to-couple approach can adapt to the needs/culture of each individual couple.
- Non-Threatening, “homey” atmosphere. Meetings are in the home of the Sponsor Couple.
- Often highlights Issues which the engaged couple have not yet discussed and/or provides a safe forum for deeper discussion of key Issues.
- Marriage enrichment for the Sponsor Couple. Sponsor Couples often say “We benefit even more than the engaged couples do!”
- Great way to do ministry as a married couple without needing to leave home.
- Children of the Sponsor Couple get to see their parents “serving the needs of others.”
- For Better and For Ever includes a follow-up beyond the wedding, so newly married are supported through the early year(s) of marriage.