Friday, October 7, 2016

This Journey Called Marriage - Tales, Tips, and Tools - Day 2

This Journey Called Marriage – Tales, Tips, and Tools

I had high hopes for our Marriage Prep weekend. We were joining about 15 other couples for a few days that would be like a private little bubble, removed from the hubbub and stress of planning a wedding and solely devoted to getting to know one another better. I imagined us holding hands, gazing into one another’s eyes, falling deeper and deeper in love, as we shared our hopes and dreams of our life together. So romantic!!

As we began our weekend, we met two couples and a priest who shared many stories of their lives all weekend. They shared their experiences to launch discussions between my husband-to-be and me and all the other future husbands and wives, which is done by way of writing letters to one another. Throughout this weekend, we would discuss just about everything – finances, sex, job and career expectations, children, family, goals, faith.

Our first session came with a warning, “There are people who find as they go through this weekend that they may not be ready yet for marriage. If that turns out to be you, talk to us. But realize that this is part of the purpose of this weekend…to make sure you get to know each other better and to pay attention to any red flags that may indicate you are just not quite ready to commit to marriage.” <=Click to Tweet

I may have thought to myself, “Oh how awful…Thank God I know that won’t be Chris and me!”

The first presentation was a young couple who shared their story of how they had grown apart as a result of having their first child. They were so focused on that little miracle of life that when they finally had their parents babysit and were able to go out for a bite to eat just the two of them, they sat across the table with very little to say to one another. They had lost their connection.
Again, I thought to myself, “What a shame. I’m sure that will never happened to us.”

The weekend was designed to teach us how to communicate more clearly, foster honesty, and dig deeper into our relationship. <=Click to Tweet

We were taught specifically how to dialogue. This is a fairly simple but powerful technique for sharing with one another. You basically pose a question, take about a half hour to write your answers separately, then come together and exchange your written answers. After reading one another’s answers, you discuss and ask questions about what you’ve read.

Oh I was so ready…So excited to share my heart. I loved this kind of reflection; an opportunity to know one another better and grow in love!!

The first question of the weekend was “Why are you here?” Easy enough.
We went off with our Engaged Encounter notebooks and I eagerly started writing.

“Oh my dear Chris,
I am here this weekend to grow in the beautiful love that’s already grown so deep. I just want to know you better. I love taking this next step toward our wedding day. I am so excited to be here. So thrilled to be heading toward life together forever…”

And on and on. I was so in love!!

Each couple was reunited in separate rooms to share in complete privacy what we had written in our journals. I was eager to read Chris’ letter which of course would mirror mine.

Whoa…our letters couldn’t have been more different. As I started reading Chris’ response, I quickly understood the reason Chris had come to our Engaged Encounter weekend was to straighten out some issues. For example, he was concerned about the impact my family might have on our marriage. Maybe I needed to separate a bit…

My heart pounded, tears stung my eyes as I shook my head in disbelief. I was 
crushed. Oh my gosh! We were one of “those” couples. We were going to have to leave. I sure as heck wasn’t staying all weekend with this heartless unromantic brute. I began to sob and was seriously furious, broken hearted, and ready to bolt out of the room to explain to our weekend leaders that we would be leaving, thank you very much.

Chris was stunned by my reaction. He was just being honest. Of course he loved me, but he wanted to answer the question truthfully. He pleaded with me to stay…at least through one more presentation and opportunity to dialogue. I reluctantly agreed.

We stayed. And as the weekend went on, we grew closer, climbed hurdles, and opened up new understanding between us. Overall, it wasn’t fluffy and romantic, though there were moments that were. It was hard and gritty, honest and sometimes tear-filled. It was real. And we learned we could work through our differences. If we persisted and followed a few simple rules that ensured clear communication and respect, we could grow a deeper and richer love that would prove to be so much better, fiercer, dedicated than the sweet romantic notions I had conjured up.

How about you? Have you found ways to go deeper, even treading into rough waters, that have enriched your love? I’d love to hear about it. 

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