The other day, I was meeting with a young couple that got engaged recently. They want me to do their wedding ceremony (we’ve been friends for a number of years) and they were especially interested in having me do some marriage prep counseling with them. I’m always willing to meet with couples who want some help building a better marriage.
Years ago (like 35 years ago…sheesh!), I got some graduate level training in pre-marriage counseling from one of the premier counselors in the field at that time. You can still find his books, workbooks, CD’s, and DVD’s in any christian bookstore. He has always been the gold standard in this area. He was the one that created and taught the pre-marriage counseling model that is still used in most churches and counseling centers to this day.
A number of years ago, I stopped using his model. Go figure.
I also stopped giving a lot of advice on marriage…at least the kind of advice that came from my own personal experience with being married. I guess I came to the conclusion that Wanda and I really aren’t very good examples for couples these days.
Maybe even discouraging.
- We don’t fight. Ever.
- We’ve never yelled or even raised our voices at each other.
- We trust each other completely.
- We always want to be with each other.
- We’ve never had a need for a night out with the girls/guys. Ever.
- We can, and do, talk about anything. We always have.
- We have always had differences of opinion on politics, social issues, theology, and pop culture. We always end up laughing.
- Neither of us are perfect…far from it. But we have never expected perfection.
- We have always been each other’s best friend.
Most married couples speak of the “ups and downs”. They talk about weathering the tough times and coming out stronger. They tell how they’ve had to learn to forgive each other, learn to be patient with each other, learn to submit to the best interests of the other. These were never our issues.
Money problems, sex problems, in-law problems, communication problems, parenting problems, and matters of trust, are the most common issues a marriage counselor will deal with. Those were never on our list, nor did they pose any threat to our commitment to each other.
To those whose marriages are a grind, I realize our marriage seems unrealistic. To those whose marriages are teetering on the edge, our marriage can feel like a ridiculous expectation. To those whose marriages are nothing more than co-existence or have ended in divorce, the description of my marriage can come across with smug superiority.
But my words come with no judgment. And no lack of compassion.
So what’s wrong with us? Why aren’t we like normal couples? How did this happen?
I’ve written enough. Answers will come. Soon.