It happened at a tawny Christmas party in downtown Boston, fondly referred to as the “Tweed and Pearl” party. There wasn’t a great deal of diversity at this gathering, save the variety of Kate Spade bags, so when a tall Asian guy walked into the room, he immediately caught my attention. The party host later introduced us and we discovered we had a lot in common, from taste in music to world travel and future ambitions, we hit it off…of course, the open bar helped a bit too.
Compared to my past long-term relationships, DH was a shining star. I continued to believe that we had more in common than in contrast for quite some time. In fact, I believed it all the way through our engagement and right up to the third-week in to our premarital course, when we took the Myers-Briggs personality test to determine compatibility.
DH and I came out almost completely opposite, I was an ENFJ to his ESTP (and his E was only on the cusp of extrovert and introvert; mine was a no-contest). I was shocked!
But this wasn’t our first red flag.
The first red flag was the fractured, multi-divorce home I came from compared to the stable, Asian-centric, tight-knit family he was part of. There were other flags too: I was older, his parents weren’t thrilled about our engagement, and I wasn’t sure I wanted kids (he definitely did).
But the broken home issue was probably our biggest. It was something we endeavored to work on throughout our relationship and, once we were engaged, throughout our marriage too. It’s something we work on and discuss with regularity.
Divorce is a road neither of us would ever care to travel (again).
Experts say the honeymoon-phase of even the best relationships is only two years. As I mentioned earlier, we’re 11-years in. It hasn’t all been easy, in fact things haven’t always turned out exactly as we’d hoped or planned. We’ve done some things pretty backwards, like having a kid first, THEN going to grad school, THEN buying a house, when we were furthest in debt, least in stable jobs and most in need…
We also both thought life would find us living overseas, raising our kids bilingually and traveling more but that hasn’t happened (yet) either.
Then too are the stresses that come with the life’s different phases. Raising kids is one; taking on debt (from school loans, a mortgage and home repairs) is another; building credibility in a tech-start-up (where the work week sometimes feels more like a month) is third.
All the while we’ve been blessed to have the regular presence and support of DH’s family; to belong to a strong faith community; and for the good friends that we can rely on as soundboards and for weekend escapes when we need them most.
But sometimes it takes more.
For a long time now I’ve wanted to start a marriage mentoring program at our church, a place filled with strong role models and long marriages. But timing hasn’t been right and with our current state of transition, it’s nothing that will come together this year either.
So we’ve had to turn to other sources because I (and I think DH too) firmly believe that marriage, like parenting, cannot succeed in a vacuum. It cannot thrive without advice, encouragement and focus.
After talking for years about my desire to take proactive measures when it comes to our marriage, I have finally boarded that vessel.
We’re lucky enough to have really good health coverage—and having spent a portion of the past three days listening to the Supreme Court hearings on Obama Care, I appreciate it all the more. When I looked in to the costs we would incur if we underwent couples counseling and discovered they would be $0, I knew I had to get things started.
Mind you, DH has never done counseling of any sort, his parents aren’t divorced, he wasn’t sent away to school at a young age, he didn’t have to piece together fragmented homes and a variety of siblings. On the whole, he’s pretty whole. I have a much clearer knowledge about what we are about to embark upon.
I know that counseling sometimes can expose old wounds, like ripping off a Band-aide.
I rest assured that we are not seeking counseling for what is plagued but instead fortifying what is well. We’re not fools, we know men and women live on different planets, we just want to work on better interplanetary travel. We want someone to help us ask the questions we don’t even realize are going unanswered. We’re seeking guidance.
Tomorrow is our first session. Who knows how it will go or what we’ll learn or even if we’ll think it’s a good path for us but nothing ventured, nothing gained and certainly, in the case of our insurance coverage, nothing lost!
How are your relationships? Do you think they could benefit/could have benefited from the guidance of a mentor or counselor? Have you ever taken this route?