Marriage & Family Life Resources

U.S. bishops' resources, blogs and more for marriage.

Sharing in Christ's vision, the Diocese of Des Moines Marriage and Family Life Office seeks to work with parishes and couples, walking with all families in all their stages, in their joys and sorrows, their celebrations and challenges. The Marriage and Family Life Office accomplishes this goal in three related ways:

Marriage Preparation

Engaged couples - Couples are required to participate in a sacramental preparation process prior to their marriage/validation. In our diocese this process involves attending a sacramental marriage preparation retreat, hosted by either the diocese or the parish, and also meeting with a sponsor couple who will guide a couple through the FOCCUS inventory. See details in the link to the left. To view the diocesan marriage preparation policies click here.

Marriage Enrichment

The Third Option -- Every marriage hits rough patches and the couples need a way to fully restore their relationship. This program walks couples through 14 skills-based workshops, helping them to grow in everything from understanding anger, cultivating respect, stopping a hurt spiral, understanding personality differences, restoring trust, and much more. This program is for all couples whether they are facing obstacles in their marriage or just trying to make a good thing better! The Third Option will meet every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at Mercy College of Health Sciences, 928 6th Ave. in Des Moines, 7-9 p.m. For more information, contact Adam Storey at 515-237-5056 or Janet Bradford.

The 6 Dates Program, and the follow up Beatitudes program is an excellent marriage enrichment tool that invites couples to go out on six consecutive dates and discuss reflection questions that will foster communication, offer catechesis, and also help couples continue to nurture their marriage.

Family Life

Natural Family Planning -- There are multiple sources, in English and Spanish, for natural family planning. See the link to the left.

Pregnancy and infant loss -- We offer a ministry called Hope in Loss for those grieving the loss of a pregnancy or infant, offering healing and companionship. 

Divorce care 

Beginning Experience - Beginning Experience is a weekend retreat for adults grieving the loss of a love relationship through death, divorce or separation, who are ready to come to terms with their loss and begin to move forward with their lives. You can learn more about this program by visiting their website here. For upcoming dates and more information about our local group contact Dana at 515-975-3745 or Kathy at 515-339-7191.

The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide - The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide is a ministry for men and women who have suffered from divorce: The 12-week program features 30-minute DVD episodes each week that cover topics of shock, denial, anger, grief, guilt, forgiveness, money, the courts, the kids, the ex-spouse, annulment, dating, sexuality, spirituality, remarriage or staying single, and much more. To learn more about this program visit their website here or contact our local leader Deacon Tony Valdez at 515-979-2301. 

Annulments and the Tribunal

The Tribunal is the judicial branch of the Des Moines diocese. This department is responsible for assisting with matters pertaining to Church law, known as Canon law. While the department addresses matters delegated by Bishop Richard Pates, its primary work focuses on receiving and investigating petitions for declaration of invalidity of marriages, commonly known as annulments.

As a part of the journey toward healing after the end of a marriage, individuals may seek a declaration by the Church that their marriage was not valid in the eyes of the Church. This is called an annulment, or decree of nullity. This does not mean that parties are free of obligations of the union, such as the welfare of children. An annulment acknowledges there was a wedding ceremony, or a relationship existed. An annulment determines whether an essential element was lacking in the consent of at least one partner in the marriage. If so, the union would not be valid according to the Church's understanding of marriage. 

Many people have questions regarding what an annulment means and what the annulment process entails. To answer frequently asked questions regarding annulments the Tribunal have developed a brochure which can be viewed here.