Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Marriage Conference

Over the past weekend, Sak and I decided to take a small respite from planning to focus on our relationship. It wasn't easy to turn off the wedding-machine, especially now that there's only a few months left, but I think it was a really healthy thing for us.

We attended a marriage conference by Family Life, called "Weekend to Remember" down in Santa Clara (although they also have them all over the rest of the nation!). It covered many topics over the three days of classes, from conflict resolution to parenting to sex and everything in between. There were even a few sessions just for us pre-married folk. And of the 500 people that attended, there were couples from every phase of life: from not-yet-engaged to over-fifty-years-married.
I love the smell of a good convention hall.

Now, I came into the conference thinking that there wasn't much Sak and I needed to work on. We have all the same hobbies, we are educationally and financially equivalent, neither of us really have many friends to be jealous over, we hold the same core beliefs, and we dream of the same future. To me, there wasn't a whole lot that needed improving.
The perfect couple with absolutely no issues. ;)

So why were we there? In a few reasons: it was recommended by a friend that we go, we hadn't really done any other type of premarital counseling, and it would be a good way to point out any relationship "holes" we might have missed. Maybe we had neglected to talk about a certain big issue? We might as well cover all our bases. Every relationship needs a tune-up, even if the car seems to be working just fine.

There were a lot of good points made at the conference. A lot of heartfelt discussion between the two of us. And I was right - there were a few important issues between us, that we had glossed over before.

So here they are, everyone - a few of our personal issues, for your reading pleasure:

Issue #1 - Words of Encouragement

Or rather, the lack thereof. Sak and I are notorious for using sarcasm and random negative comments with each other. All the time. "You're fat," I'll start, just to get a rise out of him. "You frakking moron," he'll counter, taking the bait. Then we'll go back and forth, calling each other names with increasing ridiculousness. Does that make any sense at all, or serve any purpose whatsoever? No, not really. I'm not usually a moron, and Sak is underweight rather than over. Our type of verbal fighting is pretty ridiculous, so luckily it usually ends in laughter. Maybe that's why we don't really consider it a dangerous issue. But maybe it still is. Especially considering that we rarely ever use positive words with each other either. We've tried, but neither of us takes the other seriously when one says "you look nice today" or "thank you for picking me up from the station". Maybe we've spent so much time in negative-land, we've forgotten what a non-sarcastic comment looks like?

So we are going to have to work on complimenting each other, being polite, and generally just having a good attitude. It'll be hard to change a bad habit - but I think somewhere deep down inside, we'd both like to know that our hair looks nice, rather than that our breath has "the stanky rot of a morgue".

Issue #2 - Respecting your Spouse

Or, once again, the lack of respect. Sometimes, being too compatible has it's own set of issues. Usually, the husband might respect the wife's amazing talent at *insert skill here*, and the wife might respect the husbands ability to *insert skill here*. But Sak and I? Too many of our abilities, skills and talents are the same. So how can I respect him, when I think I do it better? And vice versa. We are both incredibly proud, independent people. But marriage is a partnership, a team effort. It shouldn't matter who has better soldering skills. It shouldn't matter who has a better pokemon leveling strategy. And yet for us, it often does. If I were to guess, I'd say a good 80% of our arguments stem from this competition of "I can do anything better than you".

So I need to work on letting things go. I need to let Sak have his moments, without my little judgements or critiques. Obviously I will not be a doormat on the bigger issues, but for little things, I should build him up and trust his decisions and strategies, instead of criticizing and second guessing his every move.

I know that neither of these particular issues will go away anytime soon, as I'm sure our habits are hard-wired into us at this point. However, we are at least aware of what the problems are, and we can start moving towards being nicer and less competitive with each other. Better to work on something while it is still tame and small, before it seeps and becomes a big, bitter monster later on.

Overall, I'm glad we attended the conference, it was definitely worth giving up a weekend of hardcore DIY-wedding work. We've all heard it before - that the wedding is only one day, while the marriage is a lifetime. That's true, so any chance we find to work on that marriage, I think we should take it.
Plus, I now have two more badges to add to our convention-badge collection! Am I the only one that keeps these things?

Have you done any pre-marital relationship checks - on your own, with a book, with a counselor/pastor, or at a conference?


  1. AWESOME! I'm so glad to hear you two not only signed up for this but that you really enjoyed it!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it!! I've heard about this conf and it's goodness.

    Tim and I have just been reading books and we're having a skype convo with my pastor (officiant) on tues :-P

  3. Glad you had such a good experience. My fiance and I attended a similar workshop two weeks ago, and we're really glad that we did. Unlike the two of you, though, we had a *lot* of things to work on, since we are both hot-headed, opinionated know-it-alls :) Well, at least he thinks he knows everything. I know he's wrong ;)