Things learned from a weekend marriage course

Should I expect you to change or should you expect me to change after our wedding? If so, in what way?

This question stared at me from an exercise page titled ‘Three Stages of Love’. My fiance and I attended an ‘Engagement Encounter’ program recently. Both being Catholic and planning a small church ceremony ahead of our destination wedding this year, we’re required to take this weekend seminar or, a similar course over six weeks.

Exercise sheets from the marriage course my fiance and I attended. (Photo: Rosalyn Solomon)

Exercise sheets from the marriage course my fiance and I attended. (Photo: Rosalyn Solomon)

We’d heard a few things here and there from people who’ve taken the course, we even tried turning to Google on what to expect. Alas, despite my desperate attempts to get ahead like a studious bride-to-be, I couldn’t find anything specific.

So, off we headed to the course with nothing but a broad idea of what the weekend would hold and fresh from our fun engagement shoot the day before (and almost two years after the fact) I have to say we were feeling ourselves, as Nicki and Bey would say.

If you’re wondering what the basis of the course is, it’s basically stuff you should’ve already covered before saying yes to the bling or at least, shortly after that blissful moment. What are your values? How do you communicate? How do deal with conflict? How do you handle money? Do you get along with each other’s families?

My guy and I have been together for nearly 14 years. We’ve touched every topic under the sun, over it and under it. Yes, some of those are uncomfortable, but it felt pretty good to see that, after “working” separately on our exercise sheets and meeting later to show and tell, we had the same answers for most questions.

So do we expect to change after the wedding? Yes, naturally. Will it be drastic, or unexpected? Absolutely not. No, I can’t predict the future, and things won’t be perfect, but change is not always bad, and hey, if we end up a divorce statistic you can troll me.

Have I noticed any unreal expectation that my partner has of me?

When you’ve been with someone long enough, especially since the dreaded teenage years, you really see them and yourself grow. I can say we’re pretty lucky, or blessed if you want to stick with the Christian theme.

Yes, we’re in love, and yes, he’s my best friend. I don’t care if that’s cliche, because it’s fucking true.

A shot from our engagement shoot at Underpass Park in Toronto. (Photo: Julian Moniz)

A shot from our engagement shoot at Underpass Park in Toronto. (Photo: Julian Moniz)

If you like people watching, a marriage prep course might be the second best place, next to a bar or club to do it. While, I’ll admit it warmed my heart to see so many couples (around 30) in the happiest stages of their lives so far, there’s also unspoken judging and comparing — venues, proposals, dresses and decorations. When you’re with more than a dozen other brides and grooms-to-be you can guarantee the main topic of discussion is weddings – oh, and houses. I overheard many couples comparing renovations and costs while others talked about honeymoon spots and caterers. Having done more wedding planning in this past two months, than in the past two years, this was all a good learning process and a good laugh.

Everyone wants their wedding to be different, yet, they all sound the same.

What is true love to me?

As expected, there were some cheesy parts to the course; Outdated videos, the priest making jokes about pre-marital sex (yes, all the boys and girls were in separate rooms). But, as the volunteer couples (two sets of long-time marrieds who were very nice) said at the start of the course the first night, “you get what you put into the weekend.”

There was one couple who sat in front of us for the one full day that ran from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Whenever we were told to separate to fill out our exercise sheets, I happened to notice a few times the woman would leave the entire page blank.

The different dynamics of the couples was interesting to watch, so it’s natural to assume they’re looking at you too. Twice, we sat down to eat next to couples we didn’t know and they’d say “you’re the high school sweethearts right?” Recalling the intros from the first night. Yes, we’d say, insert judging thoughts here.

It’s fair to say, there were no surprises or revelations between us. We didn’t fight, we put our phones away for almost the entire weekend and yeah, I guess we got to learn a little bit more about ourselves as a team.

We laughed a lot. Not at anyone or anything in particular, we just made each other laugh. Thanks to some of the exercise questions, we not only got to plan a bit more about our future, we also got to reflect on our past.

It’s been a long, bumpy road, and it may not be smooth sailing ahead, but I’m pretty excited to be sitting shot gun AND splitting the driving with the only man in this world who can make me smile with nothing but a look.

What is true love to me? I can’t put it in words, I only know that I have it.

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