That’s right, I said Pre-Engagement Counseling. Not pre-marital counseling. Why? Well…
Given the stats of divorce….we’d be foolish not to. It was either that or we sign a pre-nup (so funny how we actually discussed such. Don’t know what that woman was thinking when she asked if I’d sign one. As if we have two kobo to rub together, talkless of millions at stake)
This counseling idea was a tough sell at first. I thought we didn’t need to go and talk to any stranger just to get married. The wife disagreed. I didn’t want any body setting rules for how we should live. The wife disagreed.
The fact that we couldn’t agree was warning sign number one.
As a typical guy, I suppose I just didn’t like the idea of sitting on someone’s sofa, regardless of whether it was our church or not, and telling them our problems. My wife (then-girlfriend), felt that we needed to understand what marriage really was, before we even got engaged. In her opinion, once we were engaged, we’d be too focused on other issues like fighting with our parents over the venue and menu, or looking for an apartment we could afford, to fix any looming problems with our future married life.
Since she usually gets what she wants, we signed up. In hindsight, we were lucky the church allowed us to do the counseling program even though we weren’t even engaged. I suppose they saw how serious we were about our commitment to each other (but I suspect my wife just begged them behind my back). Either way, we sat through 8 weeks of one-one-one and group counseling sessions where they covered every topic from sex, to child rearing to chores. They challenged us to ask ourselves “Do I really want to marry this person? Even if they lose a limb or lose their figure or lose their job?” “What does through thick and thin really mean?”
Now I’ve never been a good student, and prefer to remain quiet in class, even if I don’t understand anything. But my wife is the opposite. A real “Oooh oooh oooh me me me! Pick meeee teacher!” Miss Efiko, I.T.K. She had her hand up to ask questions after every sentence uttered by the group leaders. She would shout a resounding “AMEN!” everytime the leader advised that men share in the chores or learn to cook as well and proceed to eye me in front of the whole class. She would nudge me boldly with her sharp elbows if she thought I was snoozing in class ( I wasn’t. I was just reflecting with my eyes closed).
She’d strike up conversations with the other couples in our counseling sessions, then come and drag me over to each new friend she made. “Darling, meet Ronke and Bayo, they’re having their honeymoon in Bora Bora, I tooooooold you I wanted to have one in Bora, Bora, maybe they can convince you!”
Ah and the homework. It never stopped. I bet she was one of those students in secondary school that would write down the names of noise-makers and collect everyone’s assignment for the teacher. The way this woman used to call me every night to remind me to do our “homework”, had me positively certain that she would not spare our future children any slack at all. “Darling”, she’d purr “You’re supposed to write down 10 things you envision for our future. Why haven’t you written anything yet? Why did you only put down one sentence for the things you like about me? Do you like only one thing?! Don’t I merit a paragraph?”
Despite it all, I learned more than I expected to at our counseling sessions. The communication techniques they gave us really came in handy and we rarely fight now as a result (unless of course she’s in the mood to just pick for my wahala for no reason. What is it with women and unnecessary sparking? Is it just to keep us on our toes?)
She learned that we just communicate differently. My silence doesn’t signify that I’m bored with her presence. I just like being quiet. I can zone out with a TV on and not even know what I’m watching, but it’s not a reflection on her. It’s just a male brain issue (and at this lesson I for once was the one to shout AMEN!)
I learned that I was dealing with a firecracker woman. While that meant we’d have a spicy marriage, it also meant that she communicated loudly and quickly. Her mind moves a mile a minute. Mine doesn’t. But that’s ok.
Once we understood each other better, we felt more comfortable about deciding to get married…and I felt clear minded about proposing. More on the proposal later.