Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So what do you need to know?

I was talking a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who had recently got engaged. Falling in love changes people. I have just been watching one of my all time favourite programmes – Joan of Arcadia. In a previous episode Joan had kissed Adam and this one was about working out whether the kiss meant anything significant. A visiting speaker to the school gives them a lecture about love and relationships and likens romance to a virus – it messes up with the normal function of the brain!

My friend was sharing with me that she and her fiancĂ©e plan to see a pre-marital counsellor! My initial reaction was to subdue an outbreak of hysterical laughter. I cannot imagine in a millions years that the suggestion of Joe and myself seeing a pre-anti-or-post marital counsellor as a thing to do! He doesn’t have a high opinion about counsellors. There is no problem that he can’t get sorted out by talking things over with a friend over a couple of pints while watching a football game.

Apparently the idea of these pre-martial counselling sessions is to provide an opportunity to raise issues that might not crop up in ordinary conversations. If you go into a relationship knowing the answers to the big questions I suppose they think that the relationship is that much more secure.

Had I perhaps been to a pre-martial counselling suggestion would I have discovered just loudly my husband snores at night? Would I have discovered that any set of twenty two players and a ball, from any obscure football league in the world would hold his attention like nothing else? Would I have discovered the depth of passion that he has for politics, staying up all night to watch the results of the general election? Would I have found out that anything dipped in batter and deep fried is infinitely more appetising than mange tout chopped into a salad?

I have enjoyed the discoveries I have made being married to Joe. Perhaps if I knew it all beforehand I would not have thought I was up to voyage and abandoned ship. As it is, Joe completes me in a way that I would never have imagined. I am not the same person I was before I met him. I am fulfilled.


Mark H said...

I think it can be helpful to identify one another's expectations and talk through how to reconcile any differences. That's not quite the same as trying to find out everything in advance!

And it's not saying that a couple necessarily need another party to help them have those conversations - but another party may help raise questions that hadn't been considered. Maybe the phrase "pre-marital councillor" is rather heavy (seems to be so to me!) but Sue and I found it invaluable to have another married couple who were already our good friends to talk to about marriage when we got engaged.

It also helped us start seeking God together, praying together and worshipping together, asking him about our new joint future, rather than as two individuals who were just going to share the same roof!

It's amazing how many marriages fail in the first year or two because the bride and groom have different expectations for the rest of their lives and don't know how to approach God together as one.

You obviously have a great marriage. But I'm all in favour of helping others to get off to a good start without being over-the-top or heavy-handed about it. If it's natural and relational then it's part of spiritual parenting. If it's counselling with a stranger then that seems a bit weird to me - but each to their own.

Hope you don't mind my 2p!

Mark H said...

p.s. by "weird", all I mean is "not my own preference", nothing more!

meljkerr said...

Joe and I were in our thirties when we came together. We both had lived very independent and fulfilling lives for a long time beforehand. Both of us came into the relationship knowing that there was to be plenty of give and take to make it work.

We had been on a marriage seminar kind of thing - so we did not escape the advice network. The one thing that I remember from it was SSPT - skin to skin prime time - the need to be honest and without masks, defenceless and vulnerable with each other.

I'm OK with that, but Joe needs a few beers under his belt before he opens up!