I’ve been married long enough to be amused by star-struck lovers.
“Oh Pastor, you don’t understand! We’re in LOVE. We have a song! We’re not going to have problems like other married people.”
Right. Let me throw up in my mouth a little…
I get it. What would someone who’s STILL married after all these years know about marriage? What would someone who’s twenty years of results ahead of someone else know about anything?
I thought the same way though. It must have been amusing to people who actually knew what was coming.
My Aunt Lynda told me when we announced our engagement “Corey, at first you get married BECAUSE OF this and that. After all these years Dean and I are still married IN SPITE OF this and IN SPITE OF that.
I remember feeling the import of the words at the time even if I didn’t have enough brains to ask ten more questions about what that would actually look like. Oh well, I always had a thing for learning things the hard way.
It’s not difficult to tell in pre marriage counselling when the young future couple make the decision in the first two minutes that I’m a disenchanted old man who doesn’t understand the Power of Love. That’s because I’ve been around their naive block about a million times and start shooting straight almost immediately.
My attitude is that if their relationship can’t get through a few “I don’t think you should get married. Explain to me why you should?” ’s then don’t bother with the rest. If all you can do is stare blankly and say “____ will make me happy?” then we might as well start with this delusion.
Why on earth is it their primary job to make you happy? You’re not even happy now! That’s a suffocating burden to live under.
The truth is that healthy people become happy people. That’s what we teach in our Venue Marriage Group anyways.
Also it should be noted that I have mostly delegated pre marriage counselling to others because of my frustration levels counselling young unicorns, so to speak. Erin is much better at it. The unicorns think I steal their magic feelings… which I do.
Not to sound more heartless than I already have, but I’m not above hurting their feelings a little by challenging their ridiculous expectations. Look, you can talk about it now or argue about it for the next twenty years, IF you make it that long. Which you won’t if you don’t talk about it now.
“But Corey, the home I grew up in was awful. We’re just going to do the opposite!”
Great idea! I wonder why we didn’t try that? Oh wait, we did and it doesn’t work!
Disliking being broken doesn’t change the fact THAT YOU’RE BROKEN. Wishful thinking doesn’t change it. The only thing that changes it is asking for help from the right people and working your rear end off becoming healthy. If it makes you uncomfortable admitting you don’t know what the heck you’re doing BEFORE you finally realize you don’t know what the heck you’re doing then don’t get married.
That’s what marriage is.
If you resort to “but I’m being HONEST! I don’t have the kinds of problems that cause marriage break ups!”, you will find your marriage partner will not appreciate being married to a person who honestly thinks they have no problems in every single argument they have. Who cares if you’re an honest idiot? Honesty has to do with TRUTH, not what you think the truth is.
So I’m the Pouncer. If I’m counselling with Erin I’ll watch quietly for awhile while the young couple does their best to keep their hands off each other in front of their pastors. I don’t need many clues these days to spot an iceberg. When I do I just lean forward and say softly “You said _____. And that the other person shouldn’t expect you to _____. That’s not going to work.”
Then Erin, who looks nice but is terrifying, smiles, leans over and smacks the smug smiles off their faces with a “You know, that’s quite selfish”.
That’s not what they were expecting at all. They came for support! They came to be told they’re the most amazing couple that’s ever existed! They don’t need this excruciating pain and suffering! Some of them manage to pull it together long enough to make it through the session, but you can tell they’ve been deeply hurt for no reason. Now instead of listening intently and trying to learn they are guarded and suspicious, but they didn’t really come to learn anything.
Then they leave Venue and go down the street where someone else will marry them and not ask too many questions.
It sounds hard if you’re young, but we really wish someone would have given us this gift when we were full of chemistry, but too broken to make it for very long.
Then there are some young people that are broken AND humble enough to listen. When challenged they don’t immediately defend the other person’s honour, they trust us enough to turn sideways and say “Yeah, why DO you think that way??” Then they go back to their respective homes, cry a little, argue a lot, become better people, and come back for more.
You can learn everything the hard way if you want,
But there’s no prize for just having a magical song…