Tuesday, June 26, 2012


When I first fell in love with Mario, I believed that our love was so precious and sacred that no one that had lived before us had ever felt such passion and love.    We had both recently been involved in committed relationships that had failed, and we were not exactly relationship experts.  Seeing this, our family counselor suggested we attend a marriage conference. 

We weren’t even married yet. 

So, without even saying our vows we attended our first of many marriage conferences.  We didn’t have time, or the extra money, for a marriage conference.  Still, we were realistic about our chances of staying happy together without some kind of help.  It was obvious that the odds were stacked against us. 

We were parenting young children, who were around us constantly and rightly demanding our attention.  We had schedules and commitments and duties that were counter-romance, almost.  I could see in the distance, the possibility of life happily-ever-after, but the reality of our everyday life was different.  It was busy and stacked with stuff that wasn’t... fun.

 At church, we had friends who made their marriage unions look effortless, the same way that couples figure skaters sail across the ice together at the Olympics.  I wobbled around on my own marriage skates and got sore ankles from trying to keep myself from falling down.

Marriage is work.

It is also the closest thing on earth to heaven, if it’s working.  A few years ago, Dido had a hit song “Thank you”, where she sings about a terrible day she’s having, but it is all made perfect by seeing her beloved’s face when she comes home.  Who doesn’t dream of this?

In truth, a couple’s relationship can take a back seat in marriage many times.  It is replaced by work commitments, responsibility and duty.  Even after a few weeks of this, a healthy couple can feel drained or neglected.  I’ve talked with young mothers who tell me of their over-exposed nerves, raw from a lack of sleep and their breastfeeding schedule.  Later, the kids grow and school and schedules threaten to topple any normal family time, and that’s not including the demands of a normal work week.  

Some couples struggle through years of infertility and would love to have such scheduling problems; instead, a wall of silence goes up between them.  Most couples will be confronted with money problems of some kind that threaten to topple them.  Some survive the inexplicable and searing pain of losing a child, a parent, or a sibling.   

Life is filled with unpredictable tragedy.  By the time you sit down to dinner, you may glance at the one you married, under a cloud of love and roses....and not recognize them. 

In truth, this is why marriage conferences exist in the first place.   They are here for a reason- to take time out for the most important commitment that you have ever made.  You literally schedule time to spend on your relationship, which may help with the things that are challenging you.  Some couples (like us) realize the need for help through difficult issues, but see marriage conferences the same way they see visits to the dentist for oral surgery.  Many conferences open wounds that are too deep to be resolved in one week, let alone one night. 

The Marriage Course, in our opinion, is a good course for any couple.  It begins with a meal for two (we provide the ambience, you provide the conversation), followed by a private evening that focuses on a couple’s life together.  Sex, family and spending are just a sampling of topics.  The exercises are fun and light, but give opportunity for deeper discussion (if the couple wants) later. 

Mario and Janet - 25 years later.

The last time that Mario and did The Marriage Course, we had our first exercise be a runaway disaster.  We couldn’t agree on anything!  Guess what?  We were leading the class.  When the time was up and we had to move on, we confessed to everyone who was there that we “failed” our first assignment.  They laughed, in relief.  It brought an instant bond to the whole class, and we felt like we didn’t have to be “perfect leaders”. 

As a wife, I am more than a business partner or a life-mate to my husband.  I am the bay who he come home to and rests in.   I am the one who sparkles at the very thought of him.  I am his best friend, his dream partner and his girlfriend.    

These are what dreams are made of.