Let’s talk more about how you can appreciate and commit to the time you’ll spend at your marriage preparation course.
This is Part 2 with 5 more tips! (Check out Part 1 here.)
1. Get to know your classmates.
Couples who’ve been married for a long time can provide wisdom, while couples at the same stage as you can provide sanity! Friendships with couples who are on the same walk as you are treasures.
“Oh, so I’m not the only one feeling emotional about this?” is the sentiment that I often take away from conversations with other brides-turned-new-wives.
If no one has done so yet, create a chat group (e.g. WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook) so you and your classmates can share notes throughout the duration of the course, and can keep in touch after. Allow friendships to form.
2. Have a debrief session with your partner.
I’ve mentioned this in Part 1. Again, this can be your date night conversation topic. Ina Mendez-Tan elaborates “Contextualise and verbalise what you’ve learnt from the classes. Pick a topic and ask each other how you each think you’ll apply the principles to your own future marriage.” I would also suggest taking notes. It’ll be a process of re-evaluating the things that you both agree on, and a journey of accepting the things that you disagree on.
3. Share what you’re learning about each other.
In addition to talking about what you’ve learnt in class, more importantly, talk about what you’ve discovered about each other. This can be part of your debrief sessions with your fiancé.
When debriefing with my fiancé, we would each share at least three positive things we discovered about each other. If one of us wanted to point out a weakness, we’d first ask if the other is open to discussing it. Mike has learnt how to ask me questions like “why do you think you prefer doing it that way?” or “how do you feel about what just happened earlier?” I suppose it’s his subtle way of shedding light on some areas that I need to think and pray about without leaving me feeling criticised or unloved.
During the course, I learned how important it is to Mike to regularly take breaks and have fun!
4. Seek for a two-on-two counselling session with mentors.
Our marriage preparation course offered a two-on-two counselling session with a married couple. The mentor couple assigned to us also happened to be our good friends. If this isn’t something offered by your course or church, be proactive and choose a seasoned couple whom you respect to invite out for a double date!
Married couples who are thriving in their marriage are typically excited to support new couples in their marriage journey. If you don’t have married friends that strike you as “mentor” material, then go outside of your circle! Ask people for connections. I find that people are always honoured to be asked to share their wisdom. Also, make sure to pick a couple that your groom feels comfortable opening up to and building a relationship with.
A counselling session is an opportunity for you both to ask questions that you weren’t comfortable asking in the class. It’s also an opportunity to tackle on-going issues that both of you need help navigating through.
At the beginning, middle and end of it all, prayer is the greatest way to make the most of this investment in your marriage. You may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed as you attend the classes. Or, on the contrary, you may find that the class helps strip away a lot of your worry and anxiety. Whatever the case may be, thank God for the opportunity to receive the wisdom that you’ll gain, and ask Him for any help that you need.
I remember praying for favour that things would go smoothly at work. And at times when work wasn’t so smooth, I remember praying for energy, strength, and wisdom and creativity for problem solving so that I could be 100% focused during class.
What’s been working for you? I’d love to read your thoughts on how you’re maximising your experience in your own marriage preparation course.
Thank you to these wonderful ladies who have generously shared their insights for parts 1 & 2 of this blog: Angel Nang-Pascual, Chrina Cuna-Henson and Ina Mendez-Tan.