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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just How Engaging Is Engagement? Conclusion

The rest of the engagement period had its up’s and down’s; I often remembered Joyce’s advice. The thing is, we just never had conflict so never really learned how to properly deal with it, sometimes retaining the bitterness the conflict produced. Both of us were working some evenings and lots of weekends, while going to school, so there wasn’t a lot of time for much else. Any free time was often taken up with wedding planning. We had a lot of fun together; it wasn’t all conflict by any means. I just figured things would be a lot better once the whole wedding-thing was finished and we didn’t have that hanging over our heads.

The cause of one squabble totally eludes my memory as I write today; but the one thing about it I can easily remember has two parts. First, the argument was enough that we stopped talking to one another. I mean for three days or more, even though we were riding to school and back every day in the same car. Though I do pull back in retreat at first when I’m hurt, I had never been a fan of the endless “silent treatment” and didn’t know what to do. When we both rather just got used to the tense silence for the half-hour drive to and half-hour drive from school, I began to worry. Would it always be like this? What can I say to break this silence?

Secondly, I decided to talk with my mother about it. She and Dad had been married for a bazillion years; she’d know what I should do.

“Mom, I’m worried because Curt and I are still not talking to one another. This argument isn’t ending like the other little spats. Maybe I should re-think things. Maybe I should not marry him. I mean, once we’re married, it could get worse, couldn’t it?” Well, Mom didn’t listen to anything else I had to say, so great was her shock.

“What? You mean not go through with the wedding? You can’t decide that now. There are only ten days left until the wedding! Invitations are out, dresses have been purchased, cake ordered, photographer signed up and a dozen other arrangements have already been made. You can’t call it off now!” She had a point, of course. I felt so trapped and unhappy. “Honey, it’s just the wedding jitters. Everyone gets them. Things will be okay; you’ll see. It’s just because the wedding day is so close now.” She was patting my shoulder as she spoke, trying to re-assure me.

“But, Mom, when I told you we’d get married in December, you thought it was too soon and wanted us to wait. You said we had been apart for all of last year and needed time to really get re-acquainted when we weren’t both so busy with work and school. Don’t you remember? You weren’t for this winter wedding. Maybe you were right. Maybe we should wait.” Talk about one miserable bride-to-be!

“You wouldn’t hear of it when I said that; don’t you remember? You said things were heating up and you really needed to get married before you had to get married. Or, don’t you remember that discussion we had?” Mom was right. Curt and I were committed to having our wedding night be the first time we had experienced a sexual relationship. Oh but it was hard sometimes!

“I do, Mom, but…” Maybe Mom was right; I was just nervous and letting my worries get the best of me.

“It’ll be all right. Just start talking to him. He has to talk to you at some point, doesn’t he? He’s probably nervous, too. It’s a big step and all the preparations are coming to the end now. Soon it’ll be finished and you’ll see; things will be better.” Mom was probably right; I’d just forget it and look for that silver lining every storm is supposed to contain.

What about the pastor? Yes, I know that now but back then, we were both too young in the things of the Lord to know we needed to talk to someone about those rare conflicts and how to deal with them in marriage. We did have a pre-marriage counseling session with the Lutheran pastor friend of my father’s who was going to perform the ceremony in his church. We didn’t have a church family together yet, and Curt, whose family was Lutheran, didn’t want to get married in the Catholic Church. This Lutheran Church, which neither of us had ever seen before the wedding plans, would do. While the pastor never said a single word to either of us, he told my father later that he had little hope that our marriage would survive. He did not see either of us as prepared to assume the sacrificial responsibility of marriage. To the pastor, it just seemed like we were doing the next thing in the boy-girl dating relationship: getting married. What he would have liked to tell us was not to get married until we matured a bit and made the decision then. Instead, he was quite positive and cheerful as we spoke with him about future plans, both of the wedding and of our future life together.

While I loved all the details of the beautiful wedding, even now I look back and think we would probably have waited had we not so much invested in the wedding. Had we just planned to get the marriage license and then have the Pastor and his wife ask the blessing over our marriage during church one Sunday, or something really simple and easy to change like that, it would have been a lot more doable to put the breaks on and re-think things. Instead, it was just too late now.

****Just How Engaging is Engagement? Reflections… Next Post

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