Recommended Resource: FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory

Statistics on marriage state that couples who go through adequate pre-marital preparation have a 66% better chance for an intact marriage. The FOCCUS Orthodox Christian Edition is a pre-marital program which has been used by Kh. Maggie Hock, Director of the Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries, to train clergy and seminarians in pan-Orthodox settings. It is a complete program which, if used as designed, provides adequate preparation for couples approaching marriage. It is not a counseling program, but it does include an inventory that the couple completes, and it generates a report based on their answers that is an excellent guide.

FOCCUS requires a training time of approximately eight hours. Kh. Maggie is presently the only Certified Orthodox trainer and she has been given the blessing to do this with Antiochian clergy by Metropolitan Philip. The only way clergy can receive the Manual and Inventories is to work through the training under Kh. Maggie's guidance. She may be reached at: 402.445.0150, or at

For details about FOCCUS: visit Here is some basic information:

FOCCUS is an inventory designed to provide to engaged couples and to those working with them a personalized profile of what is needed in their marriage preparation process. It is both a starting place and a map of what issues and skills need time and attention.

FOCCUS engages a couple quickly in a preparation process by giving them content for reflection and discussion. It opens up a process through which a pastor, counselor or trained leadership couple can promote additional discussion, problem-solving and learning.

FOCCUS can be used independently or as part of other preparation processes. Many users employ FOCCUS as an essential “first step” which gives couples a look at their strengths and needs and readies them to move into additional marriage education programs. Other users employ FOCCUS as the center from which the discussion and learning of the preparation process flows.

FOCCUS is comprehensive. It deals with both basic issues and special issues. The content foundational to all relationships is the core of FOCCUS. In the analysis of responses, there is also a specific look at family of origin and dual career issues. Patterns around domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse are identified. Additional sections address the concerns of couples who are cohabiting, or who are entering into interfaith or remarriage.

FOCCUS is designed to be used successfully by both professional and lay facilitators. It can be administered, interpreted and used easily. A Facilitator Notebook provides clear direction for the appropriate use of FOCCUS.

One-day training programs are available. A training video can be obtained. Some geographic areas or dioceses run FOCCUS training programs. Training is done from national centers in Australia, Canada, Ireland and England.

A formal training program is not required for the use of FOCCUS. Training is strongly encouraged to insure the best use of FOCCUS.

FOCCUS assesses the premarital relationship but it is not a test. Couples do not “pass” or “fail” FOCCUS. There is a graph of agreement that indicates areas of strength and challenge so that couples can identify priorities for discussion and problem-solving. It would not be appropriate to label or categorize people on the basis of a discussion instrument like FOCCUS.

FOCCUS is a reliable and valid instrument. The internationally recognized SRI Research Center, Inc. (now Gallup) was employed to determine the reliability and construct validity of FOCCUS as it was developed (1985, 1997, 2000). The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (April, 1995) reports the work of independent researchers Williams and Jurich on the predictive validity of FOCCUS.

FOCCUS is affordable. It is available to diverse populations. Because the instrument is directed to pastoral as well as counseling settings, a priority is to keep materials affordable.

There are several scoring options for FOCCUS. A national scoring service is available for $20 a couple. Marriage Savers score for a $16 fee with $5 supporting Marriage Savers projects. A handscoring packet and a PC program for use with either scanner or key punch is also available. Some countries and geographic areas have a license for scoring.