Over on my other blog, I do go into my first experience with counseling, when I was in my 20’s. FTN left a comment and in the midst of my reply it hit me that that was not my final go ’round with counseling. Oh no. I did have another experience.
In fact, it was with Arwyn. How’s about THOSE apples? Merry Christmas to all of you, too.
Many churches have a rule that if you want to get married, you have to go through some sort of premarital counseling. I just heard on the radio today that the state of Tennessee has made it mandatory for couples wanting to get married in that state to attend 4 hours of premarital counseling. Or else pay a $60 fine. As a result, the rate of marriage in Tennessee has gone down as couples cross over the state line into Georgia to avoid the counseling and the $60 fine. And people derride ME for avoiding counseling?!? This only goes to sow that most people do avoid counseling like the plague and go through tremendous amounts of trouble to avoid it. I’ve known several couples who chose their churches on the basis of avoiding premarital counseling. And now folks in Tennessee are crossing the state line to escape it. The state doesn’t mandate the type and scope of the counseling, just a minimum of 4 hours.
Folks, it is not that big a deal. Really. You’ll spend a lot longer picking out flowers than 4 hours. In our case, I’m not sure we got a full 4 hours. We did have to pay $20 or something but again this is miniscule compared to the real wedding expenses.
Thchurch Arwyn and I got married in was not our own church. In fact it wasn’t even in our own state. We got married 1,000 miles away from where we were living mainly because our families all lived within driving distance of the twin cities, not Atlanta, Georgia. And the church in which we were married was not a Methodist church nor was it a Methodist minister. We were married at her Dad’s church by a minister who eventually was expelled from the ministry due to a gambling addiction.
I wonder; would that void our nuptuals?
Anyway, that church and pastor in Minnesota required that we attend marriage counseling so our pastor at the Methodist church was more than willing to oblige. I had known this guy for a number of years. He knew a thing or two about marriage since he was on his second marriage and had been married the second time for at least 10 years. Like most people living in the Atlanta area he was from Ohio. So I’ll just call him Ohio.
The first and longest step in the counseling experience consisted of Arwyn and I independently ans simultaneously taking a test. Yes, we took a written fill-in-the-bubble-with-a-#2-pencil test. I wish I could remember the name of the test, but it was norm-referenced and was designed to compared and measure compatibility on a number of dimensions. Financial, child raising, family involvement, spirituality and..um…oh yeah…sex! Those are the only ones I can think of.
We took the test, paid $20 for the results and waited a couple of weeks for the results. They had to be sent in and machine scored and then the results were cooked and boiled into a nice little report. Then we got the phone call that said the results were in and could we please meet with Rev. Ohio to discuss our results.
Like most couples who go through this, we were already well into the engagement and wedding planning process at this stage. Maybe that’s why so many couples avoid this whole business because what if they tell you that you are totally doomed? Whose going to call off the wedding at THIS point?!? And so it was that we were both a bit nervous about the results. Rev. Ohio sat us down and discussed where we had most of our differences, which were just about on every dimension. You know it’s bad when the pastor asks you if you’d like a drink before you get started.
Actually, it wasn’t too terribly bad. Or maybe Ohio minimized those differences. Who knows? But Arwyn and I did have differing views on most dimensions and we differed by statistically significant margins. I’m thinking at least 1 standard deviation on everything except the spirituality part, where we were most compatible. But let’s get to the nitty gritty…
In the sex department, I had desired it pretty much every day at least once per day. By this time, that isn’t what was happening, though. Arwyn said maybe 2-3 times per week. She said that out loud as well as on the test. She was somewhat embarrassed talking about sex with this pastor, and mentioned that she was wondering about having sex before we were actually married.
Ohio said that we were well into our 30’s and well into adulthood. He said go ahead and enjoy. I’m not sure if that helped her or not.
But other than going over the results of that one test, there wasn’t much more two it. Those two sessions were pretty much it. Like I say, I don’t think we did a full 4 hours, but Rev. Ohio in Georgia okayed us with Reverend Minnesota so we were deemed good to go.
I’m okay with the experience, but maybe we should have gone back for more testing. Maybe we should have had a support team look at our results and write up an Individual Marriage Plan (IMP) that we would review annually to determine how well we were doing and to set annual goals and objectives. We could then determine what level of support we might need in order to have a better and more nurturing marriage. Perhaps there should be a “regular” marriage track and then a “special” track for those of us who test in the significantly impaired range.
Just a thought.
Fact is, no one likes others poking and prying into our private lives. Yeah, you all read about it in my blog(s), but that’s me disclosing in carefully edited and measured amounts over a period of time. Okay, not so carefully edited. But I retain pretty much absolute control over what happens in this little space. It’s relatively safe compared to the wild and wooly worldof real life in front of live people, talking live and disclosing live. This is why most TV shows are taped instead of broadcast live because the producer wants to control what the audience sees and feels.
Anyway, that was counseling #2 for me. It was not very intense. In fact, it should have been more in-depth but most couples will not tolerate even that much. I’ve never jumped the state line to avoid counseling or paid a fine, but at the same time I’m not going out of my way to get it at the moment. So to say my experiences have not been overly impressive would be accurate.