Though I've always been a romantic and started dreaming about my wedding when I was 12, I never planned on getting married at 23. Love has always been the most important thing to me, so yes, I did hope to one day secure a happy and loving marriage. I wasn't, however, in a rush.
While growing up, one doesn't have very much control over what kind of love, relationships, and marriages they bear witness to. And, as we are shaped by the environment we are in and the people we are surrounded by, we can't help but develop patterns in loving relevant to what we experience.
Luckily, my childhood and formative years were granted with a positive love environment. My parents loved each other, they loved me, they loved my siblings. I heard the phrase "I love you" at least once a day. At times, though, it seemed there was so much love that it almost outweighed other important things.
When you enter the stages of your own serious relationship with somebody, you either A) incorporate the behaviors and practices that you are familiar with from your parents' or other mature relationships, B) steer clear of bringing any of those behaviors and practices into your own relationship, or C) do a little bit of both.
Garrett and I chose option C. We valued bringing the positive aspects of our parents' relationships into our own, but deeply believed in creating something unique to just the two of us.
When we began our marriage preparation classes, which were required by the Catholic Church, Garrett and I had been together for 5 years. Our relationship was good. We had gone through college together, grown up together, moved cross-country together. We knew each other, and ourselves, well. To us, the Pre-Cana (Catholic marriage prep) seemed unnecessary and burdensome.
What we came to discover, though, was that the Pre-Cana classes were helpful, even enjoyable. If anything, they made us become more mindful of our relationship and of ourselves, individually and together. From that mindfulness, we built a stronger foundation for our marriage.
All in all, we walked away from marriage prep understanding ourselves and each other a little bit better. That little bit has helped make all the difference in the world.
Stay tuned to learn what I mean.