“Despite initially looking on this course as a necessary chore, I found it to be informative and well worth attending. I would recommend others to do it”
Perhaps you feel that you have nothing further to learn
about each other and as a result are reluctant to attend
a marriage preparation course?
Firstly a pre marriage course is not something
to worry about. It is an opportunity to take time out
amidst your preparations to look at your future life
together from a few different directions.
Realistically most of what you hear you will be aware of
– and this should affirm your decision to marry.
But like all courses there is always something you can
learn and that something might just help you to be happier
and more secure in your relationship in the years ahead.
Many married couples look back and say they had no idea just what they were taking on by way of a life long commitment. What this will mean on a day to day basis is teased out on the course and you will be helped to have more realistic expectations of what your partner will bring to the relationship.
When asked what is the most important topic on the course - or indeed in maintaining the relationship - communication comes out on top. While it sounds like a cliché the fact remains that the level of communication will affect every single aspect of your life.
If as a couple you have difficulty coming to an agreement about how often to visit the in-laws/family - you need to talk about it. Difficulties about handling finance, managing conflict, deciding on family planning, sexual problems will all require the same skill - communication.
Personal questionnaires at the end of each session which are for your use only, help you focus on your own personal needs.
Probably even before the engagement the word ‘compromise’ had entered your vocabulary on a regular basis. Many would say that compromise is the road to a long and stable relationship. At first you have a partner to be considered in all future plans - later there may be children. If everyone is to have some of their needs met then there has to be a great deal of flexibility and give and take. A rigid outlook is one of the great hazards of personal relationships. An awareness that there is no one right way to be married, to rear children, to solve problems is needed. Rather a wish to find the best way together - perhaps a new and different way to that of your families - is to be aimed for from the start.
RELATIONSHIPS / Communication – a story!
Contrary to what many women believe, it’s fairly easy to develop a long term stable intimate and mutually fulfilling relationship with a guy, of course this guy has to be a Labrador retriever. With human guys it’s extremely difficult. This is because guys don’t really grasp what women mean by the term relationship.
Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a women named Elaine. He asks her to a film, she accepts, they have a pretty good time. A few nights later, her asks her out to dinner and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither of them is seeing anybody else. And then one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and without really thinking, she says it aloud, ‘Do you realise that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months.’ And then there is silence in the car.
To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself : ‘Wow, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.’ And Roger is thinking, ‘My! Six months!’
And Elaine is thinking: ‘But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either, Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward ..... I mean, where are we going ? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy ? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?’
And Roger is thinking: ..... ‘so that means it was ..... let me see .... February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the garage, which means ... let me check the odometer....oh ! I’m way overdue an oil change here.’
And Elaine is thinking: ‘He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment, maybe he has sense even before I sensed it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.’
And Roger is thinking: ‘And I’m going to have to look at the carburettor again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not working quite right. And they better not try to blame it on the damp weather this time, what damp weather, it’s lovely and dry these last few days and still the damn thing isn’t working right. And I wouldn’t mind, but I paid them almost 200 quid.’
And Elaine is thinking : ‘He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry too, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.’
And Roger is thinking : ‘ They’ll probably say it’s only a 90 day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re going to say, the rats.’
And Elaine is thinking : ‘Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a Knight to come riding up on his shiney white horse, when I’m sitting next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seem to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centred, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.’
And Roger is thinking : ‘They want a warranty ? I’ll give them a warranty...I’ll take their warranty and .......’
‘Roger,’ Elaine says aloud. ‘What ?’ says Roger.
‘I’m such a fool,’ Elaine sobs. ‘I mean, I know you’re no knight in shining armour. I really know that. It’s silly. There no knight and there’s no horse.’
‘There’s no horse ?’ says Roger. ‘You think I’m a fool, don’t you ?’ Elaine asks.
‘No !’ says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer. ‘It’s just that ...... it’s that I ....... I need some time,’ said Elaine.
(There is a 15 second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)
‘Yes,’ he says. (Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)
‘Oh Roger, do you really feel that way ?’ she asks. ‘What way ?’ says Roger.
‘That way about time,’ says Elaine. ‘Oh,’ says Roger. ‘Yes.’
Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)
‘Thank you, Roger,’ she says. ‘Thank you,’ says Roger.
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Tayto and turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a re-run of ‘Men behaving badly’. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mid tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he’s pretty sure that there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policy to world hunger.)
It’s analysis time
The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyse everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every word ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on for weeks, maybe months never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it.
Meanwhile Roger, while playing Squash one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s will pause just before serving, frown and say, ‘Mick, did Elaine ever own a horse ?’
Comments and Feedback
On the evaluation form, couples often comment that contact and interaction with other couples on the course has been one of the most enlightening things for them and often leads to lasting friendships.
Further comments on these evaluation sheets include “It was interesting to hear how the young married couple in the team overcame difficulties in their own lives” and “the team were very open and approachable”.
To sum up the reasons for attending a Marriage Preparation course:-
- It will give you an opportunity to step back from all the preparations for the wedding day and plan beyond for your future.
- In a relaxed and easy atmosphere it offers you a chance to discuss with each other and with other couples the issues that are relevant to couples marrying today.
- It affirms for each of you your own personal worth and the qualities you will bring to the relationship.
- It affords you an opportunity to discuss with counsellors any area of concern you may have in private and with confidentiality ensured.
Inter Church Marriages
In addition to marriage preparation courses ACCORD, in co-operation with the four main Churches and the Association of Inter Church Families, runs courses for those of different religious denominations. There are also specialist courses for deaf couples.
Other Accord Services:
Further services include fertility awareness and management, legal advice, marriage guidance and sexual therapy. Couples sometimes wonder at what point should they decide to come for counselling. The answer is sooner rather than later. There is an inevitable period of adjustment for couples adapting to the day to day habits and peculiarities that we all possess. There is the new realisation that all decisions must be considered in the light of two different views. Using the openness and compromise mentioned earlier, many of these early “teething problems” can be sorted out. However, at any stage in the relationship when one - or both feel they have tried everything without success, counselling is a positive option. Whereas the ideal is that the couple attend together, it is possible for individuals to come alone. Frequently the reluctant spouse will eventually come too when he/she sees an improvement in the relationship.
Problems which arise in the early years are very often the same problems which are still there twenty years later, if not resolved early on. Furthermore, it is often the resentment of not having resolved the problem itself - which can be most difficult to release. Counselling So what is the counselling process? In the ACCORD context counselling is about accepting people as they are regardless of race or creed. ACCORD offers complete confidentiality and a non-judgmental approach. The aim is to help the couple express and understand their problems, with a view to making clear responsible decisions about their future and healing wounds from their past. Advice on legal situations is also available. For those couples whose sexual relationship is unsatisfactory a sexual therapy service is available in most centres. All counselling sessions are by appointment and people may attend the centre of their choice. While there is no fixed charge for counselling, a donation per session is welcome where affordable. No one is turned away due to lack of funds. ACCORD is a voluntary organisation. As an organisation we are always on the lookout for young married couples about five years after they have walked down the aisle to help prepare other couples for the rewarding challenge of a lifetime together. You perhaps?