Monday, March 23, 2015

planning a marriage - premarital talks

I find when you read about newlywed life, you tend to get two camps of reflection:

The first year of marriage is the hardest or being married feels the exact same.

When you're engaged a lot of the planning energy goes into the wedding. As we prepare for our wedding, we would like to spend time preparing for our marriage too. I'd like us to fall into the camp where things feel the same, but strengthened after the wedding. I have a few posts planned throughout our engagement that will address how we've been planning and preparing ourselves for the marriage part too.

The Narwhals at a wedding // Personal photo

The first topic I'd like to discuss is on our premarital talks. Shortly after our engagement GM PB came to visit from Thunder Bay with his wife and adorable daughter. It was such a great visit, and we had lots of chats about planning the wedding and marriage.

One thing they told us they really appreciated during their wedding planning was the premarital counselling they had to do with their church. It was an opportunity to discuss some important topics, but was also really affirming for them as well.

I told Mr. Narwhal that I actually had wished we could do something like that, because it would great to have those important conversations. Instead of going to counselling, I went to Google and ended up finding just what I was looking for from Dr. Jim Walkup's website (a marriage counsellor in Manhattan).

He provided a list of things to talk about that were in the realm of what we wanted to discuss. The list was broken into 12 topics and 75 questions to talk about together. We ended up covering the questions over the course of two evenings, and I have to say, they were amazing conversations. I decided to share this on the blog because for any other soon-to-be newlyweds out there wanting to do something similar. The breakdown of the topics included:

  • Meaning of Marriage and Commitment 
  • Your Life Long Goals
  • Your Mutual Expectations
  • Your Living Arrangements
  • Children
  • Money
  • Parents
  • Gender Roles
  • Intimacy
  • Conflicts 
  • Spiritual Life
  • Extramarital Relationships 

Many of the topics were affirming conversations. It was good to cover and evaluate what we knew already. In an open forum we solidified things we already knew, and managed to still learn things about one another.

I know that for some, these kind of discussions might be redundant or eye-roll worthy, but from our perspective they were definitely worth it.

The best thing that came from our chats was a new dinner time ritual. While discussing children and the values that were important to us to pass down, I told Mr. Narwhal that I would love for us to start a tradition with our children where we would share gratitude for the day while we ate dinner. We aren't religious, but I really appreciate the intention of giving thanks before a meal. Beyond saying we were grateful for our meal, I wanted us to share the big and small things we were grateful for that day, and on a larger scale.

Fun fact: I have a gratitude tattoo on my inner left forearm. // Personal photo

Instead of waiting for children, we decided we wanted to start the practice right away. I can say this has been one of the most amazing things we have done for our relationship. Rather than just doing a drive by synopsis of our day at the dinner table, we talk about what made us feel grateful. It's really great to share such positivity over a meal. Not only do we learn about each other's day through our sharing, it also gives us an opportunity to be appreciative of one another for the little things, those things that often go unsaid.

Did you and your fiance go to premarital counselling? 
What kind of traditions have you started together?

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