Thanks for reading part one about my experience in premarital counseling, now onto part two!
Even though there were a bunch of couples at this retreat, it wasn’t a big group therapy-fest in the slightest. If it was I don’t think we would have survived the first hour. The only things we had to say in front of everyone was our name and what we were most attracted to in our partner. Most people said “He has a kind heart” or “She has good values”, but one guy who either couldn’t think of anything on the spot or is a big germaphobe said “Her cleanliness”. If my fiancé said that cleanliness was one of the major things he was attracted to, that would be a big red flag in my books.
So instead of us talking as one big group, we had two married couples who took turns talking about a subject and relating it to one of their experiences together. Afterwards, everyone would answer questions from their notebooks individually, then after about 15 minutes would rejoin their partner, swap notebooks, and discuss each others answers.
It was a really great way to talk things through because I know I’m better at writing down my thoughts than I am at expressing them verbally. But I’m telling you, doing this for 12 hours on Saturday then 5 hours on Sunday was exhausting! Plus, I was very close to getting carpal tunnel, I swear!
Besides some of the normal topics you’d assume would be discussed at a retreat like this, such as having good communication with your partner, or how to manage conflicts the healthy way, there were a number of subjects that were relatively new to my BF and I.
I mean, we’d touched on almost every topic before, but there were a few we’d never had a deep conversation about which we found to be very enlightening. Here are a few examples:
1. Is Romance Enough?
My BF and I both looked at each other when this topic was read out loud because it’s obvious that the answer is “no”. Obviously romance isn’t enough to sustain a lifelong partnership, but seeing as most marriages end in divorce, it made sense that we would be talking about this at the retreat.
What I found interesting about this topic was that it focused on disillusionment in a relationship. My BF and I have been together for over 6 years and during that time we’ve recognized that certain cycles occur. Sometimes we are more lovers, sometimes we feel more like buddies, and sometimes when we are both really busy we feel more like roommates.
Apparently this is totally normal, and if you can recognize this and make an effort towards finding a good balance between all of them, then you’ll be just fine.
2. Creating a Life-Giving Marriage
I’ve honestly never heard this terminology before, but it’s actually a really nice concept. It’s all about giving your marriage life through being generous, supportive, sensitive, and selfless, and trying not to be indifferent, close-minded, self-centered, or comparing yourself to others.
Being in a relationship is all about thinking about not just you but another person. There’s no room to be selfish in a marriage, and even when you are tired, stressed out, or in a bad mood, it’s important to make sure those feelings don’t get in the way of lifting up your partner and making them feel loved. Harder said than done obviously, but important nonetheless.
3. Financial Fidelity
Yes, they talked about personal finance! I was so excited when this topic was introduced. Basically this was all about knowing your partner and their finances. You may think you know someone, but you should make sure you know their financial situation before being legally bound to them.
Luckily, my BF and I aced this chapter as we have talked about our finances and future plans together since we started dating. But there was a neat checklist we had to do where we both had to check off what our financial priorities were (education, charitable donations, leisure, having a nice home, etc…) and there were definitely some differences between our answers.
That wasn’t exactly news to me, I’m a saver and my BF is a spender, but having lived together for a year and a half, I’m not too worried about how we’ll carry on once we are married.
4. Natural Family Planning
Have you ever heard of the Rhythm Method? It was what Catholic married couples abided by to delay pregnancy back in the day. Of course, it didn’t really work that well, so now the church is promoting Natural Family Planning (NFP). We even watched a movie all about it. Although it did feature some nice looking couples and a female doctor who attests to its success, I still couldn’t look past the fact that every couple including the doctor had at least 4 – 6 kids.
Unless I’m gonna get a reality show for having a house full of brats, I’m gonna stick with the pill thank you very much. I sure do feel bad for all of those young looking Catholic girls who were at the session though. There was one in particular who didn’t even look 19 and I just know she’s probably gonna get knocked up in her first year of wedded bliss. Good luck to you honey!
So if you are planning on getting married soon, I highly recommend doing a premarital counseling session; religious or not, it can really only make your bond with your future spouse that much more solid. Also, if you’re wondering if we got some kind of certificate after completing the retreat, you bet your britches we did! Of course, we had to stay for the entire weekend (plus a mass) to get it. Those church people sure are smart.
Do think couple counseling is a good idea? What are some topics you think a;; couples should talk about before tying the knot?