I’ve been looking forward to joining up with #LoveBlog for the past few weeks! If you already subscribe to the Provocative Joy newsletter, you know what I’m introducing! If you haven’t subscribed to my monthly update, you can find the sign-up box at the end of this post (it even counts as an entry in the giveaway). It’s where I get a little more personal, share blog-news and how I’m living out what I write about.
I’m linking up today and February 23rd. This is a link-up and collaboration through the month of February where we blog about love, secrets, relationships, and a lot more. You can find the full list of prompts and rules here. There’s also a giveaway you can enter below!
My Love Story
Ruben and I have been married for almost 4 years. Our anniversary is April 7th and that day was one of the happiest days of my life. A bit of history for you: I got an email from a stranger via meetup.com looking for friends in the area and explaining that he was new to my city. We hit it off before we even met in person and once we met in person, there was no stopping us. I loved how encouraging, even-tempered, and handsome he was. He accepted me for who I was and was so respectful of my boundaries and faith.
Looking back, it was a whirlwind, storybook romance. We started falling in love from the moment we met and there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to move forward with him. We met in January of 2012, he bought a ring in May, and we were engaged in October on my birthday! Our 6-month engagement flew by.
A Problem Comes Up
As wedding plans got underway, the topic of premarital counseling came up. I remember walking around the neighborhood where I grew up, hand in hand with my soon-to-be husband, when he surprised me. He told me he wasn’t really into the idea of premarital counseling. I can remember him confessing that he didn’t like the idea of seeking out someone’s opinion other than us. How can they really know or say without being in our shoes?
That surprised me. My conservative Christian background led me to see premarital counseling as something you just did and I was actually excited about that part. I’m a planner and a discusser. I also naturally gravitate towards doing things the “right” way. I am a typical oldest child and people-pleaser. As I grow and learn, I increasingly realize there are many ways to do everything, but at the time? No premarital counseling? It was foreign to me.
Differences and compatibility
My husband is more private than I am, and for most things, he doesn’t need to “talk it out” like I do. He doesn’t have the same desire for other’s approval either. In addition, he didn’t think we should be giving anyone with limited insight input into our decision, our future union, and our plans. As we walked around my childhood neighborhood, I realized we were coming from entirely different places.
Ultimately, we did end up going through a curriculum with our pastors. We read through Before We Say I Do by Marvin McMickle which covers 7 topics to discuss while engaged. We also did a one-time session with a counselor trained to interpret the results of PREPARE/ENRICH online assessments (which happens to be today’s sponsor!).
At the time, those counseling sessions reinforced my belief that I was doing everything the “right” way. We were on the same page, very emotionally connected and open with each other, and we discovered no red flags. The sessions introduced new topics that were helpful, but I still don’t think it was entirely necessary.
What Prepare/Enrich Told Us:
After taking the online PREPARE/ENRICH self-assessment, we went to see a psychologist for one session. It’s a bit nerve-wracking because both of us took the quiz separately which instructed us not to discuss answers with each other. The visit to the psychologist felt like walking into a compatibility diagnosis: Will he tell us we can make it???
All I remember from that hour-long meeting was him literally telling us he had never seen such compatible results. He repeated throughout the meeting that we had nothing to worry about because we were so well-matched! We had to laugh as we left saying, “Way to go us!”
That’s hilarious because, if you haven’t met my husband and me, we are total opposites in SO many areas. A few similarities that come to mind? We are both introverts, Puerto Ricans, and Christians. Yet even within those categories we don’t share much in common! We had entirely different upbringings and relate to our ethnic identity very differently. If there are different types of introverts, we definitely don’t match up, and the way we understand faith brings us to fairly different perspectives and worldviews.
Why premarital counseling shouldn’t be decisive
This leads to very stimulating conversations to say the least, and it also tells me that a counselor can barely see the tip of the iceberg. Our experience with premarital counseling was great at the time, but over the past 4 years, I can’t say we would’ve missed much without it. It was not crucial for us.
- A counselor, psychologist, or pastor’s opinion shouldn’t carry more weight than those in the couple’s inner community. They should be one part of the puzzle and their insight should be taken objectively.
- Most of the recommended topics for engaged couples to discuss are better initiated on their own, at their own pace, and if severe disagreement arises, brought to a professional.
- By it’s very nature, the “honeymoon” phase will rarely reveal divisive, complicated issues. Couples get along so much differently their first year together because almost every experience is new.
- Premarital counseling won’t save you from difficulties or surprises. Every marriage has unexpected bumps and disagreements.
- Just because a professional tells you something is true, doesn’t mean it actually is!
Premarital counseling: not for everyone
Of course, my viewpoints are based on my experience and others have different experiences. Lots of factors contribute and I’m aware of how the dynamics of our engagement affected the counseling, like our fast engagement and the way we fell so deeply in love so fast!
We’ve learned a lot in the past 4 years and spent time discussing things that we never thought we’d have to talk about when we were engaged. There’s no way to predict the path life will take. If you’ve read some of my other posts on depression and counseling, you’ll know that therapy and discussion about mental health and taboo subjects is not something I shy away from.
Meet your #LoveBlog2017 Hosts
Ivanna is a registered nurse with a large dose of colorful creativity. She writes at Provocative Joy while working overseas with Mercy Ships. She enjoys the art of head wrapping and the thrill of thrifting. She writes about living intentionally in community, in marriage, and the challenges of making a difference no matter which country she’s in.
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.
Sara blogs at Mrs. Imperfect about letting go of perfect and embracing your quirks and messes. She writes about marriage, self love, and mental health. She is a writer, book lover, traveler and crafter, with an interest in the arts, history, and psychology.
Elyse blogs about marriage, Vancouver-living, books and everything in between. She’s a legal assistant by day and an avid reader and blogaholic by night. She’s obsessed with Mexican food, the Toronto Blue Jays and true crime shows.
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