London, March 9 : The days when the vicar's role in a marriage ended at the church gate are passe, for the contemporary clergy believe in offering marriage advice on everything from financial planning to even sex.
Concerned by the high numbers of divorces, the Church of England has come out with its guide to the perfect marriage, entitled Growing Together, to help couples get ready for the rigours of modern marriage.
The 120-page guide counsels couples to prioritise their goals in life, including sex, children and sport, even suggesting that they consider who does the cooking and who cleans the lavatory.
The guide advises prospective husbands to learn to improve their capacity to listen.
For wives, the guide says that they need to be truthful about how they plan to spend their money.
Growing Together also says that the couple should talk openly about their love and sex life.
"Sex, far from being naughty, is something holy and wonderful and something to be celebrated. Like any other skill, it has to be learned, and their task is to be each other's teacher," the Telegraph quoted the guide, as stating.
"A person from a prudish kind of home may find living with a partner who comes from a home where nudity and openness about sex is normal quite a threat," the guide added.
The book also advises couples to discuss their biggest "turn-ons" and "turn-offs." Additionally, it has also provided case studies to warn them that many people begin married life with a limited sex education.
Other issues that couples are encouraged to tackle are their financial arrangements, such as whether they have joint or separate bank accounts, and whether they want to be buried or cremated when they die.
Though the book, the Church's first on the subject of marital guidance, is intended mainly at vicars, to help them prepare couples before they make their wedding vows, it is also available to those who want to go through the advice on their own.
"We are not just interested in the wedding but in the marriage. We want to prepare people for life and it's particularly important we do this, considering the number of people who are getting divorced," said the Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Croydon.
Baines argued that it was right for clergy to talk about issues such as sex with couples, despite the sensitivity of the issue.
"There's an assumption that church people are from a different planet, but we're not. We live in the real world and we are trying to help people talk about things that often don't get talked about," he said.
"We're not trying to be trendy but are showing that we have the guts to address these big issues," he added.