In grad school, I learned about the stages of the marital lifecycle…
Stage 1 – Become a differentiated individual (after leaving home, prior to getting married)
Stage 2 – Establish your coupledom (first 2 years of marriage)
Stage 3 – Parenting little kids (when your kids are between birth and… little)
Stage 4 – Parenting middle aged kids and teens (um, by now this should be self explanatory)
Stage 5 – Launching (goodbye, kiddos!)
Stage 6 – Retirement (hello, freedom!)
One way we “learned” about these stages was by having couples in the midst of a various stage come in and describe their experiences. They would describe how life had changed as they moved into the stage. How the stage was particularly challenging or particularly rewarding.
I loved listening to the couples’ stories. We’d hear about what her family was like, and how her upbringing made her the way she was. We’d listen to the example of marriage he grew up with and how it influences his marriage today. They’d talk honestly about what was hard for their particular relationship, what was easy, what they loved, what they hated. I ate this stuff up like it was apple pie. Loved.it.
Being who I am, as I’d listen to their stories I’d secretly wish that me and my husband would be asked to do this for a professor one day. I thought about what I’d share and what he’d share. How I would offer amazing insight about how our coupledom worked and be amazingly charming all at the once. For the most part, I considered the whole thing a pipe dream.
And then I got a phone call last week. Our premarital counselor, who teaches an undergrad course at Trevecca on marriage, wanted Mark and I to come speak to her class about our relationship. We were going to be that couple!
I don’t know how to truly capture the joy my heart felt at that moment. I can only imagine it is the way the American Idol kids feel when they hear Simon say, “You’re going to Hollywood!” Yes, it was that level of awesomeness for me.
So last night we went to a class to share “our story”…
I talked about the family I grew up in, and how it helped create my fears of confrontation. Mark talked about how his first marriage haunted the first few months of our marriage. I talked about the adjustment it took to really feel at home in what had always been “Mark’s house”. He talked about being an introvert and adjusting to having me around all the time. We answered questions about our age difference, my feelings about his first marriage, and what Mark’s ‘dealbreakers’ were regarding his next marriage. And the best part was the mini-speech Mark gave about how awesome I am. It was emotional foreplay at its finest.
It was amazing. Mark was articulate and insightful. I was adorably hilarious. And we had such a great time.
“Mark,” I said as we crawled into bed last night, “I really think we could go on the road with that routine. We were great tonight.”
“Yes, sweetie, we are great. But I don’t think anyone really cares about our relationship…”
I beg to differ, sir, I now have ten readers. People care, dude. People care.