Ryan and I took a pretty great pre-marital counseling class when we were newly engaged.
We watched a few videos and read multiple books on our own, filled out a lot of really great worksheets asking us about our hopes and dreams for marriage, why we want to marry this person, etc., and we took an awesome personality test that would help us determine which areas might cause a little strife in the future. We also went to an actual class on top of all that and heard quite a few great stories, tips, etc.
I think a really good pre-marital counseling exercise might be to sit and really imagine yourself parenting with this other person. Maybe a good question would be, “Can you see yourself parenting at 2:45am with this man?”
Is this the person you want holding your thigh when you give birth to your child? Is this the person you want watching your baby when you go out for a doctor’s appointment or errand by yourself? Is this the person you want to troubleshoot with, to sigh with as you try to figure out why in the world he’s STILL crying or why in the world she’s STILL awake?
Can you see yourself parenting at 2:45 with this person?
Can you see yourself whispering in the dark, “Maybe he needs a new diaper” or “Something’s wrong… she’s not breathing right,” and can you see him whispering back, “How can I help?”
When you’re up rocking your gassy/sniffly/feverish/teething baby, when you’re hanging out in a steamy bathroom with a croupy baby at 2:45am, is this the person you want coming to your rescue? Is this the person you trust to come in and say, “Go get some sleep. I’ll take a turn.”
Is this the person you want whispering, “Calm down… don’t forget he’s still your little boy,” when you feel like your toddler might actually make your head explode?
Is this the person you want to discuss discipline and sleep training and vaccines with? The person you want to tag-team with when you’re both sick with Norovirus and have a ten-month-old to entertain? The person you want in charge of your babies if you should, God forbid, end your time here earlier than you always imagined?
I can’t imagine doing this with anybody else. I can’t imagine anyone else knowing exactly what I need to hear when I’m crying right along with my baby at 2:45am, can’t imagine anyone else snuggling my babies so sweetly it makes my heart ache, can’t imagine anyone else’s opinion about their lives and their futures being anywhere near as important to me.
We had planned NOT to have children when we first got married so I never pictured these things when we were dating or engaged. I sometimes picture things now though, picture raising little kids and pre-teens and teenagers together, picture telling each other about a phone call or a lunch date we had with our adult children. And I like what I see.
This is the person I want to plan family vacations with, the person I want to jump in and rescue me when one of my teenagers is making me think my head might actually explode. The person I want to whisper my new-driver worries to, the person I want to size up new boyfriends/girlfriends with, the person I want to parent with at 2:45am.
I would gladly re-marry this guy again and again and again.