New Roles, New Rules

Pre-Marriage Class Gives the Happy Couple a Lot to Think About Before the Big Day

I‘ve heard the horror stories of pre-marriage class from other couples–uncomfortable discussions leading to days without speaking. Although I was looking forward to digging deeper into our relationship, what if our pastor determined that we weren’t right for each other? Plus, Mr. Right and I have already broken several rules, since we’ve been living together for almost two years now.

Nevertheless, two weeks ago, we started pre-marriage class with the pastor who will be marrying us. He’s a young, laid-back guy, so we weren’t too nervous. Each week, we will be watching a video featuring a cheesy, yet knowledgeable couple named Les and Leslie Parrot (isn’t it cute that they have the same first name?). The series is called "How to Save Your Marriage Before it Even Starts." After the video, we answer a series of questions, then go home and read a passage and complete a few exercises from the corresponding book.

The first session was focused on how the way you were raised shapes your "rules" and "roles" in your marriage. For example, if your dad always cut the grass, you assume your husband will be the official lawn mower. Or if you always opened presents on Christmas Eve growing up, you plan to continue that tradition with your own family. I had never thought about that before, but it really makes sense, and I can see how it could be the source of several arguments.

Part of our homework was to complete a checklist of various tasks, noting which parent was responsible for each task and which of us or both would be responsible in our relationship. For the most part, our answers matched up, but there were a few tasks for which I chose "both" and Mr. Right designated only to me. (You can probably guess that those tasks were "laundry" and "keeping the house tidy.") Living in the same house for two years, we pretty much already have our household roles defined. Now we just need to work on creating the rules for our own family,combining the best of both of our old worlds.

Holidays are the time when family traditions are most evident. After three years, we have already been through several holidays together. Fortunately, our parents only live about an hour apart. So, we can share holidays instead of splitting them, but that doesn’t always make it any easier. I’ll never forget waking up on my first-ever Christmas morning away from home and looking out the window to see an ice storm. As we opened presents with Mr. Right’s family, I stared out the window at the pouring rain thinking about my own family’s Christmas morning traditions. The plan was to spend Christmas Eve and morning with his family, and then go to my parents’ for afternoon dinner. The more rain that fell, the sadder I became. My soon-to-be MIL joked about us being stuck there for the day, and I had to leave the room for fear that I would burst into tears. Mr. Right saw my face and knew that come hell or an ice storm, he would have to get me home that day. Eventually, we were able to slowly make the trip to my parents’ house, and he was forced to give up his Christmas day traditions.

As the years go on, I’m sure I’ll get used to these new rules and rituals, but as husband and wife, we both need to learn to give and take. So far, my favorite take-away from the Leslie Parrotts is that love is fluid and constantly changing, and we have to be willing to change right along with it. Cheesy, yes, but it is certainly good advice.

66 days to go…