Yesterday, the Mister and I attended a couple’s retreat as part of our pre-marital preparation, and while it was mandatory and for the most part all the other adjectives “mandatory” tends to connotate, there were some highlights… one of which I feel compelled to share with all you today. (I know. You’re on the edge of seats, right?)
The day consisted of different programs put on by different couples – which all included the same reluctant participation – interrupted by brief bathroom breaks and cold cut turkey sandwiches. (I know you’re jealous – hehe) During one of the presentations, “Building Your Identity as a Couple,” the husband and wife duo offered advice on how couples can bring the best parts of their lives and merge them into their new “identity” as one, singular unit. In layman’s terms – great ways to take an I and You and make them a We.
They used examples of how couples can take what they’ve learned from past experiences with family and friends, as well their backgrounds and views on politics, religion, morality, (fill in any other non-pc, sometimes-hard-to-talk-about-subject here), etc. and build a life that can reflect them both equally. While the overall sentiment can obviously come off cheesy, the underlying notion of taking the best of yourselves as individuals and merging them into an idyllic family unit is actually pretty inspiring.
At the end, there was left time for questions, and after a brief pause of awkward silence, a young lady sitting caddy corner from me raised her hand and asked, “In your program you talked a lot about how a person’s individual identity is many times a direct reflection of the people they surround themselves with. This worries me a little because the men in my fiancé’s family don’t have the best view towards women.” She then proceeded to give examples of how his brothers were more than likely to treat women as objects, rather than partners, and they’ve even spoken ill about and targeted her directly on a number of occasions… not… good.
My initial reaction was to get Jerry Springer, raise my hands and shout things like, “Oh no they didn’t!” However, I must admit I was sincerely impressed with the presenting couple’s response. Rather than taking the negative “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” version, they revealed a solution that all couples should take into consideration.
They prefaced their answer on how family dynamics can be tricky and should be dealt with the utmost of care. While it’s never okay to force/make/threaten your significant other to “ditch” his or her family, it is always okay to express how you feel. They continued with – and here’s that jewel I’ve been eluding too -, “don’t worry about the family being a bad influence on you… strive instead, to be a good influence on them.” Genius.
So many times, it seems as though it’s easier to become engulfed by the negative, that we lose out on the positive. I hate that. (Why do you think I avoid the news?) This couple made it very clear that every bride and groom-to-be can choose to write their own happy ending. And if we all lead through an example of positive love, and “poo poo” all the Negative Nellies, it will be a lot easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel… literally.
Please feel free to leave your ray of sunshine below (ie. something about your love that makes you smile, a way you’ve been inspiring OR inspired, etc.)… we’ll leave the snarly stuff to the news :D