Marriage & Family Life

Our work springs from the belief that loving and just family relationships build up the Church, strengthen society, and glorify God.

The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises … Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis … can improve and mature the wine of their union …. Experienced and trained couples should … [offer] guidance
Amoris Laetitia, 232

Marriage Resources

Marriage Preparation Programs

Marriage Difficulties

Marriage Requirements

General Marriage Resources

Marriage Enrichment



This Catholic program has been developed to strengthen the couples’ relationship through a weekend retreat format.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter


Keeping the spark alive requires some focused time and attention. These websites offers practical suggestions for ‘keeping the love alive’
Six Dates for Catholic Couples –
52 Weeks of Creative Dates
Date Nights – Our Sunday Visitor


The Catholic bishops of the United States have developed this website to inform and assist Catholics in living out their marriage vows.


The 5 Love Languages – Chapman
For Women Only / For Men Only – Feldhahn
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs – Eggerichs 


“Theology of Marriage” – Christopher West
“Respect Your Husband”


The Church has written extensively on marriage and family. Here are some of the most recent and relevant documents.

Letter to Families – St. Pope John Paul II
The Family in the Modern World (Familiaris Consortio)
On Human Life (Humanae Vitae)
On Chaste Marriage (Casti Connubii)

Preparing for your wedding is a tremendous endeavor – it takes a lot of time and effort to plan and coordinate everything for your special day.

But even more important than the wedding is your marriage! A wedding lasts a day; your marriage will last the rest of your life. We invite you to take some time to prepare for you wedding. A good start is to take a few minutes to watch this video clip:

Matrimony, Why Make It Catholic?

There are additional resources here:
Preparing for Marriage – Focus on the Family
Dating & Engaged – For Your Marriage

Finally, here are a couple of good books to read:
Ready to Wed
A Catholic Handbook For Engaged and Newly Married Couples

May God richly bless you as you prepare for this lifetime adventure together!

  • The Catholic Church takes marriage and family very seriously, and stands ready to support you in this commitment. The requirements for marriage in the Church are intended to strengthen and support the promises you will make, to give yourselves completely to each other for the rest of your lives.

    Preparing for Marriage:

    1. Schedule initial meeting with priest or deacon. This should be done 6-9 months in advance of your proposed wedding date. Please do this before you book a reception hall, etc. This meeting is to get to know you, and to determine your freedom to marry. Paperwork needed: you will need to have a recently-issued (dated within six months before the wedding) copy of your baptism certificate, with notations. To request a copy of your baptism record, contact the church where you were baptized. If one party is baptized in another Christian tradition, provide a letter attesting to the baptism.                                                                                                                            
    2. Schedule and take the FOCCUS inventory.  Do this after meeting with your priest or deacon, 6 monthsor more in advance of your wedding date. This is done at the parish where you intend to marry. FOCCUS is an inventory to show areas of agreement and possible concern over a wide range of topics related to your marriage.                                   
    3. Register and take a marriage preparation class. This should be done at least 6 months before your scheduled wedding date. Your priest or deacon can help you choose the option best suited for you – a list of marriage preparation programs for 2023 (updated March 1, 2023) is available. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure adequate time for a couple to participate in and benefit from the marriage preparation process. If any problems or obstacles surface, this allows a couple more time to resolve the difficulties before their wedding.                                                                    
    4. Schedule and begin a class in Natural Family Planning. This should be done 3-6 months in advance of your wedding date. This is optional, but strongly recommended; couples who use natural family planning report a very high rate of marital satisfaction. More information is available here.                                                                              
    5. Schedule and meet with a parish wedding coordinator to discuss the wedding liturgy – music, readings, attendants.                                                                               
    6. Secure a wedding license from the city or county where the marriage will take place. Licenses are typically available the same day – you may need to make an appointment ahead of time.                                                                                              
    7. Schedule a final meeting with your priest to discuss your marriage preparation experience, receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, and go over remaining details for the wedding liturgy.

Every marriage goes through difficulties, sometimes
so painful they threaten to destroy the marriage.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco does not offer counseling, but is committed to helping couples in difficulty to find the help they need to heal and repair the damage to their marriages.

Here are some resources which have helped others 


Weekend format run by couples who have successfully overcome tremendous challenges to their own marriages. Many couples in this weekend are at the point of divorce – this will help them with tools to deal with their difficulties and rebuild damaged trust.
Upcoming Retrouvaille Weekends (CA)


This website offers much practical advice for couples struggling to hold their marriages together. Many good articles, etc. They also do ‘marriage coaching.’
Divorce Busting


Online therapy
Phil – Fixing a Broken Marriage


A Catholic marriage ministry – This couple nearly divorced 10 years ago. Their healed marriage is now stronger than ever and in gratitude to God they have quit their jobs and devoted their lives to marriage ministry. They also do marriage coaching.
The Alexander House


Movie about healing a broken marriage.
Many couples have found it helps resolve issues in their own marriages.
“Fireproof” on Amazon


The viewing of pornography is highly damaging to a marriage. It decreases the ability of husband and wife to love each other, and to form an intimate bond. There are an increasing number of places to find help for those who watch pornography and wish to stop. Here are some of the better ones.

Fortify – new resource for those struggling with pofn
Article – “The Secret Epidemic” – Christian site – Christian site
Fight the New Drug – Research, articles on porn
Drug of the New Millenium – good book on effects of porn
Your Brain on Porn – science of porn addiction

NOTE – b/c of Covid and lockdown restrictions, some programs have not yet scheduled dates, or have limited dates. This schedule will be updated as new sessions are scheduled, or other changes are made.  This is current as of June 1, 2024



More information / registration here      $239
Available on-demand in English and Spanish
(Highly recommended – contact Ed  Hopfner: [email protected] with questions)



One Saturday Class
Information: email questions click here
Phone: 415-699-8348 or 707-688-3853
Location: St. Vincent’s Marinwood (1 Saint Vincent’s Dr., San Rafael, CA)
Cost: $195 per couple, includes materials, lunch, snacks, drinks 

2024:   Jan 6, Jan 20, Feb 3,  Feb 17, Mar 2, Mar 16, Mar 30, Apr 13, Apr 27, May 11, May 25, Jun 8, Jun 22, July 13

   (check website for updates)



One Saturday Class  (in-person?)

More information, please contact  Fr. Tom Tavella at [email protected] 415-288-3820.
Location: Church Hall, Old St Mary’s Cathedral (beneath the church),
(660 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94108-2501)
Pre-registration is required – register online here
Cost: $200 per couple, virtual/online –  2 hrs pre-session video + survey (not FOCCUS);  6 hrs live instruction; 2-3 hrs post-session video/survey; 2 hr follow-up session after wedding
2024 dates: Feb 10, Apr 13, Jun 15, Aug 10, Oct 19, Dec 14



Saturday and Sunday   (in-person)
E-mail: [email protected]  
Cost:  $395 per couple (includes meals, lodging, materials)
2024 dates:  Jan 27-28,  Mar 16-17,  May 25-26,  Oct 19-20

MARRIAGE FOR LIFE:   Not currently offered

ENGAGING THE HEART  (Vallombrosa)  –  currently not offered



Ed Hopfner, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family

[email protected]