This is the view from the church where we’re taking class. I want to live in the parking lot.
Tony and I decided to take a “Prep for Marriage” class at the church up the street from us. (By up the street, I mean half an hour away in traffic, in the fancy celeb neighborhood, with a 180 degree view of the city. But, it’s still in “the hills,” and I am both a small town girl AND a snob at heart, so I will call it “up the street.”)
We’re doing it for a few reasons, in descending importance: 1) Why not arm ourselves with every tool to have a happy, successful marriage? (Also, I am super Type A and like to go “above and beyond” on everything I do, so why NOT get educated on being a good married person?) 2) A family member (not naming names or whose family!) believes that because we’re not getting married in a church, we won’t “really be married.” This is to try to mitigate that/prevent it from being a conversation topic at our actual wedding. 3) People watching (specifically, watching other couples and hear them air THEIR dirty laundry!!!!)
It’s being offered for free and is open to everyone, not just members of the church, which I think is pretty awesome. It started last week, so we’ve been to two so far: Tools for Marriage and Intimacy.
WEEK 1: TOOLS FOR MARRIAGE
This class was taught by a distinguished Marriage and Family Therapist (fancy talk for PhD in relationships), who kicked this shindig off by having us write down the positive traits of our mom and dad. Then, the negative traits. Then, the things we needed most from our childhood and did not get. Then, our greatest childhood frustrations, how we felt about them, and how we coped about them.
And then he dropped the truth bomb: all that shit is what we’re looking for in a partner. We want the good AND bad qualities of our parents (you know how, with “love at first sight,” you say, “I feel like I’ve known him my whole life!” You have! He’s your mom and dad, wrapped up in one sexy package! How Freudian.) And we’re looking for that person to give us the things we needed as a child and didn’t get, while also blowing things WAY out of proportion when something seemingly unrelated activates a childhood wound and causes a meltdown. (I don’t do that. Melt down. EVER. Right, Tony???)
“How do I answer that without getting in trouble?”
I would tell you what the qualities we wrote down were, but I want my parents to still pay for our wedding, and they read this blog to keep tabs on me (Hi guys! Did you know Tony is you?) So, let’s just suffice it to say, these qualities were SPOT ON for both of us. We found this creepy, but the marriage professor says that just means we’re a good match.
What my subconscious is looking for… TIME FOR THERAPY!!!!
We also learned that people fall into two categories: Turtles and hail storms. When shit hits the fan, turtles crawl into their shell, shut up and withdraw. And the hail storms are usually the ones throwing the shit at the fan, and also at the turtle’s shell.
I am a hail storm.
And Tony’s a turtle. And it all drags back to childhood stuff again, but basically turtles and hail storms tend to go for each other and then their love becomes a vicious cycle of hail storms raging on turtle shells, trying to get the goddamn turtle to poke his head out, say SOMETHING/talk for a few hours about feelings, then take the damn trash out. And we learned that if we hail storms don’t hail so hard, the turtle is more likely to poke his head out and give you a kiss and not fear your wrath.
So cool, we have the Tools for Marriage now! We are so close to success and we don’t even have a DATE set yet!
WEEK 2: INTIMACY
Real talk, this is the week everyone was stoked for. And it did not disappoint. It was led by another love doctor (PhD in psychotherapy, teaches a Human Sexuality course at the graduate level; basically, she knows her sex stuff.)
This class started off with each couple going around the room saying how long they’ve been engaged, why they were initially attracted to each other, and why they want to marry each other. Highlights included the girl who started sobbing, she was so overcome with relief at finding her soulmate, and her boyfriend (yep, boyfriend, they’re not even engaged yet), who said he was most attracted to her “sense of right and wrong. She understands there’s no such thing as ‘gray area.’” Also, the couple with a 30 year age gap between them who “just get each other and have lots in common.”
Tony is sad I didn’t sob with passion over him. Instead, I said I was initially attracted to how funny he is, and want to marry him because he’s the most loving, selfless, compassionate person I’ve met, and I think he’s going to make an amazing dad. (At this moment in time, someone else in the class is probably blogging about how gross I am. I don’t care. It’s true, he is.) After getting intimate with each other’s stories/sizing up who the relationship winner is, we learned:
– Women are wired complexly. Men are wired simply.
– Things like reading passionate literature together can get women revved up.
– Viagara was a heart medicine!
– Premature ejaculation comes from a deep-rooted place of anxiety and fear (to me, this seems like a “Which came first, chicken or the egg?” type situation. But, I digress.)
– You need to connect 15 minutes a day. Emotionally. With eye contact. Also, hug for at least 20 seconds and kiss 5-30 seconds.
– Nurture your relationship. Make time for fun, play, touching – one weekend a year, go away alone together! (Um, just ONE weekend a year?!)
– In order to be intimate, you must connect emotionally.
Then, we prayed. That’s right, prayed.
And as soon as we were finished praying and the blessing was said, one of the guys immediately raised his hand and asked “What’s your stance on pornography? It’s good for a relationship, right?” (Long story, but the moral is, your church marriage prep class probably isn’t the best place to try and justify your porn addiction, buddy boy. Although, she did give us an illustrated hand-out entitled Intercourse Positions for the Inventive Couple, so maybe that’s where he got confused.)
My favorite quote from the doctor all night, re: her passion for Kegels: “Sometimes it’s nice to walk around with happy genitals!”
Intimacy, check! I feel like we’re practically married, we’re studying marriage so hard!