Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 35: Mentoring

a.k.a. The Blind Leading the Blind.

That's our little inside joke about the volunteer position Savageman and I hold at our Church - we serve as a Mentor Couple in our marriage preparatory program. 

Tonight was our second meeting with our current couple; the night we present them with the results of the computerized online inventory they each took; the night we get into the real nitty-gritty of marriage. Families of origin.  Temperament.  Communication styles.  Values and beliefs.  Parenting.  Finances.  In-laws.  Intimacy.

It's a lot to cover in five weeks, but I'm glad the program is in place, and I'm glad we've been a part of it these last several years.  It's good for an engaged couple to address these issues one-on-one (or rather, two-on-two) before taking such a big step, and it's been good for us as well to reconnect with what keeps our own marriage ticking - what works for us, what we continue to struggle with, and how far we've come since we were in their place.

When a couple acknowledges that they are having a problem with this or that or the other thing, chances are, we've been there ourselves.  Maybe even earlier that week. This is one of the advantages to the policy of "we don't want perfect couples - we want real couples" in our marriage prep program.  More importantly, we've been through therapy.  Good therapy.  With a good therapist who dove in there and got us to really examine ourselves and our relationship, and who taught us new ways to communicate with each other and get our individual needs met. 

She's deceased now, but this mentoring thing we do together is one small way we are able to pay forward what she did for us as individuals and as a family. 

When we talk to our couples about their families of origin - all the good, the bad and the ugly - we finish by emphasizing that, in all likelihood, they will someday be someone else's family of origin.  Hopefully, that puts in perspective how important it is to use this time to fine-tune their communication skills, methods of conflict resolution, and other issues of unity and intimacy they will need in place in order to have the most functional marriage they are capable of having - for their own benefit as well as for that of their future children.

Bringing together two distinct individuals from two separate families, each with their own values, their own culture, their own spoken and unspoken rules - is no small feat.  Add to that the individual temperaments, preferences, needs, and anxieties of those individuals and you have an extremely complex system - even before the addition of children and parenting issues. 

The fact that it works at all is the stuff of Miracles.

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