It’s good to know that the Catholic Church still helps to organise marriage preparation courses, under the heading of Marriage Care. Some of the items on the agenda include: the importance of talking and listening; how to negotiate and solve problems; what couples expect from their relationship; and the way family and childhood influence spouses, and how they interact with each other.

I suggest that there is another item that should be added to the programme: the question of domestic violence and domestic abuse.

Theresa May’s administration is keen on tackling domestic abuse, and new regulations are promised which will punish domestic abuse offenders “more harshly than criminals who commit common street assaults”.

The Sentencing Council has promised “an increase in sentence severity” from May 24 for crimes that occur within the home – considered to be all the more odious “because they represent a violation of the trust and security that normally exists between people in an intimate or family relationship”.

Every commentator I have read affirms that domestic abuse is appalling and unacceptable. But not a single voice, so far as I know, has suggested that prevention is better than cure. Surely this issue should be addressed before couples settle into “an intimate or family relationship”?

It’s understandable why women (or men) find it difficult to disentangle themselves from an abusive relationship. There might be children involved, or housing difficulties, or other commitments which bind them into a bad situation. But why embark on a living-together relationship in the first place if it risks being abusive? Wouldn’t foresight and assessment be one of the most useful things a marriage preparation course could accomplish?

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