Sunday, August 20, 2006


I've seen quite a few inquiries on websites about premarital counseling, so I'm going to describe my experience so far. But before I go into that, I want to add that we had always wanted a pastor that we've had a close relationship with to marry us. Unfortunately, the person that fiance is close with will be traveling overseas and won't even be able to attend our wedding (we also had some reservations about asking him b/c that would mean we'd have to fly him out to NYC from CA, plus pay for his hotel). And even more unfortunately, the pastor that I'm relatively close with is unable to do anything in the church we're getting married in b/c of political reasons (we would have chosen another location but they were all cost-prohibitive).

So we ended up asking the temporary pastor at the church b/c we really don't know anyone else, and she is very nice too. We had our first premarital counseling session with Rev. C a few weeks ago. She started off by expressing her views on love and marriage (how both are a gift from God) and then she described her own relationship and marriage b/c she says when we get married it will be a very intimate moment among the three of us, as we face each other, and she wanted us to get to know each other more.

She described her loving and supportive marriage even though they come from different faith backgrounds. It's funny/interesting how things do and don't change. She explained that it was a huge thing (25 years ago) for her, a Protestant, to marry a Catholic. I don't think she had to convert (as some ppl I know have) but as they served communion during the service, none of her family members were offered the elements. Oddly, they gave it to her though. I think it was also considered a mixed marriage b/c he is Italian and she is German (I think?). Now, thankfully I think there are fewer issues with race and religion nowadays. However, it seems there are more cultural issues to tend with. Back then (and now also, to some degree, from what I understand), Italians would have huge affairs similar to Chinese weddings with nth degree relatives. (She, however, had a pretty small wedding.) But like us, there were cultural traditions that families wanted but she or her husband didn't want. For Rev. C, she didn't want to abide by the tacky tradition of a bride going from table to table while holding out a white bag for guests to stuff gifts into (though that may not be a bad idea as a reminder for some ppl) and was adamant about not doing that.

Then she turned the tables on us and we had to each describe when we knew we wanted to marry the other person and why we chose the other person to marry. She said she would ask us this at the beginning so while she told us her story, I was trying to put into words what I feel (I hate speaking in public too). So I made Dear go first. I could tell it was an awkward situation for him to tell someone else how he felt about me and I was lovin' it! :D He didn't know where to begin so Rev. C asked how we met. It was good to hear his perspective on things b/c I don't think I ever heard it in such detail (he would just say "we met in church" to his friends). I also realize that I am quite dense b/c I really didn't think he was asking me out on a date when we first went to dinner. Finally he said when he realized that if he were to wake up and know that I wouldn't be a part of his life anymore, he knew/understood that I was the one. He also said it was like he had a hole in his life and I fit it. Awww... I had a huge grin on my face at that point, maybe even blushing. Then it was my turn. Throughout my pondering, I remembered this one time that he was driving me back to school (before we even started 'dating') and I felt so comfortable talking to him. I remember as I looked out the windows at all the lights going up Broadway, I knew I would marry him. Ick, cheesy, I know. I guess I fall into that cliche of knowing almost immediately.

After all this gushy mushy stuff, the reverend asked us how we're dealing with our families. We gave a brief explanation of the potential issues we may have with cultural traditions that our parents (more like my parents) may cause but (at that point) we didn't have anything to really report. Of course, later that day and throughout the week, both our parents have been driving us crazy with the guest list(!!!!!).

Then we went over the order of the ceremony; She wanted to go through the ceremony during this first meeting b/c she knows that ppl need time to print and put programs together. She lent us this very heavy book that the service is based on so that we can finalize things, type stuff up, etc. on our own time before our next meeting. I love that she has done so many weddings before that she knows what to expect and is able to help us along. She also said that she would take care of the rehearsal time and logistics and reminded us that the rehearsal dinner is a time for our close friends and family to get to know each other and for us to be with our inner circle of friends and family, who we may not get a chance to spend much time with on the actual day.

Throughout I think the reverend was also watching our interaction to see how we act towards each other (she was trained as a social worker previously so she can tell, I guess), whether we need to watch out for anything or if we need help. She emphasized again how studies show counseling before really doesn't make much difference; it's when you run into problems that you will get the help you need before it's too late. She said often ppl seek help too late -- when one person has already given up on the relationship so you have to do it while the desire to fix things is still there. So while all relationships are not easy and will come across problems, you need to recognize and fix the problem before it gets worse.

I've heard other ppl have much more detailed and drawn-out counseling experiences, ranging from multi-day meetings -- we're only going to have two -- to things like having dinner with an older, married couple from the church. Some ppl have also had to take compatibility tests but I wonder if all pastors tell couples that they are the 'most compatible I've ever met' as I've heard from two different ppl going to two different pastors.

We have one more meeting left -- let's see what else is covered then.

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