Dear engaged couples—
As you know, or maybe you don’t, besides officiating at weddings, I also offer premarital counseling sessions for couples. I’ve been a little timid offering these sessions, to tell you the truth. I mean a couple comes to me and has been living together for seven years, say. What do I have to offer them? So I usually just offer the sessions to couples who have known or been living together for a brief period of time—one or two years. Yet, the more I get into this stuff, called pre-marital counseling, the more I realize how important it is, no matter the length of a relationship.
You know how it is. You fall in love. You have all these good feelings for one another. You like each others’ friends. You have great times, great sex. And yet, there’s this “je ne sais quoi,” this soupcon of doubt. You really DON’T understand why the other acts like he/she does. Why, he/she doesn’t seem to be able to do something so very simple like boil water. “Honey, I need some tea to stay awake while I work on our tax return. Would you mind putting the teapot on the stove?” Ok. So he DID put the teapot on the stove, but he didn’t know to turn on the burner. Really!
I ran across this true life situation in a book I was reading yesterday—that has to do with differences in the way people perceive the world. It goes like this. A workshop leader asked two groups of workshop participants (one group identified as ”intuitives” and the other group as “sensors,” if you know anything about the Myer’s Briggs personality assessment), to “Use as much or as little of the environment as you wish and paint a picture.” The first group, the intuitives, got right to work. They gathered leaves and twigs, and flowers, and arranged them on posterboard so that they made, all in all, a colorful, well-balanced display. The second group, again, the sensors, stood around talking to one another. Eventually, the workshop leader became concerned and asked why they hadn’t started working on the assignment. “We can’t,” came the answer. “We don’t have any paint.” (p. 76 in Sixteen Ways to Love your Lover, by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen). You see the difference, right? Intuitives are able to infer. They have a broad understanding about what is meant. They “get” metaphors, and symbols, indeed, they themselves often talk metaphorically and think symbolically. Sensors, on the other hand, take things literally. Why can’t people say what they mean, for heaven’s sake? So much of an intimate relationship hinges (and by that I do not mean a door hinge!) on whether two halves of the whole truly understand one another. If they don’t, you can see how miscommunication might become the norm and how both parties might be frustrated and angry, even. “What do you mean, you don’t have any paint? You just don’t want to do the exercise, is that it?”
What I am saying is, it is wise to get some pre-marital counseling, no matter the length of time of your relationship. It is wise to get some marital counseling, if you are already married– no matter if at the moment, you are as happy as clams (again, not literally, please). Communication skills is what it’s all about in relationships. Understanding each other helps us to better understand ourselves, and what actions, or non-actions by the other, push our buttons (although I’m not talking buttons here, I promise). You never know when things might start to go south (by that I do not mean geographic direction). Think about it. I’m here to serve.
Blessings for now, Your Wedding Preacher for Hire