Monday, May 3, 2010

Order of the Towel

DC and I just finished a 10-week marriage preparation course.  The couple who taught and facilitated class has been married for nearly 43 years!  Since then we've met two other couples who've been married that long (at DC's church, and his neighbors); plus, our parents are going on 34 and 37 years, and my namesake and her husband celebrated 55 years of marriage last December.  We are encouraged!

It's crazy to me that for as long as the institution of marriage has been around, there is still so much to learn.  Some of the important lessons during our MPC were:

  • The myths or romantic ideals about "finding your other half" or someone who "completes" you are totally false.  If (God forbid) anything happens to your spouse, you have to be a whole person on your own.  It's not same-same, but like-like.  You and your partner are not carbon copies of each other.

  • In regards to parents, rather than, "We haven't lost a daughter, but gained a son," or vice versa, each set of parents (or more) needs to recognize the new couple on an equal level with them as fellow marrieds.  That was pretty revolutionary for me.  The Bible says that, "For this reason [marriage] a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen 2:24).  In our cultural tradition, however, marriage is not simply the union of individuals but their families as well.  I'm still pondering this one.

  • Conflict resoution and good communication needs to be practiced in ALL relationships!  I will be bringing many of the points on love languages, learning styles, intent/action/impact, the five c's (compliment; coach; confront; confess; closure) etc. to the way I interact with my friends, family, and associates.

  • Our relationship to each other will grow stronger if we work on having strong individual relationships with God.  He always comes first.  DC and I have always known that and cultivated that in ourselves and one another.  I like the idea of getting to know more couples, at different age groups and stages of marriage, for advice and support.

We also had a segment called, "Getting Your Sex Life Off to a Great Start" (GYSLOTAGS)!  Perhaps a bit shocking for some, but I appreciated the frank nature of the conversation, the acknowledgement that sex is a part of married -- and family -- life, which should be prepared for and enjoyed.  There is even a book by the same name!  Sex Ed: Marriage Edition is totally different from the junior high school version.

A professional wedding planner visited us with tons of advice and information.  I found this very educational, especially since we haven't really made any plans yet!  It's fun to read wedding blogs and see inspiration boards and amazing photos, but it's an overwhelming (to me) amount of work.  Although the course itself is designed to prepare for the marriage and not just the wedding day, it is good not to underestimate the task of having a nice and memorable wedding.

On the last week, there was a Q&A session with other married couples from the church, whose personal stories drove home the fact that marriage is not "happily ever after."  One story that particularly struck me was Mr. M's.  He told us how the metaphor of a tandem bike really doesn't adequately describe a good marriage because the image is of only one person steering; at one point in their marriage, his wife got off, and he didn't know what to do.  Since then, he learned to think of his marriage in terms of a dance: there are times when their steps are exactly the same,when they are complementing or mirroring the other's steps, and when he and his wife may be doing their own separate moves; yet they remain unified on the dance floor (in the marriage).  I'll remember that story each time I see the tandem bike motif on wedding invitation suites.

Finally, we were given our "diplomas": handtowels.  They are to remind us to serve one another.  I chose this geometric weave, which will always remind me of India, where one of our instructors was born and grew up.

["don't throw in the towel; pick it up and use it."]

One of the first things that DC and I got on the same page about when we got engaged is that we would like our preparation for marriage to be led by and pleasing to God, and a witness to our friends and family who don't yet know Him or who are far from Him.  I like that the MPC covered a lot of different yet real and relevant topics, and love that it is regularly offered by my church to educate and encourage, and come alongside to grow couples and families.

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