Brothers, sisters and friends,
As many of you know, I'm currently facing a difficult decision on how to proceed with my relationship of 2 1/2 years. Without delving into the details (you're welcome ), it's a very serious and difficult road ahead for us. So...I was hoping to get some input from the married folks in particular, but all input is welcome. The reason for me bothering you good people with all of this is because, as most of you know, I was once married before. Back then, I wasn't a Christian. I feel that had Christ been in our relationship then, things would've been very different. Now that I am a Christian, and have once again found love, I really want to be as positive as I can that my decision is not only of God, but that I do everything within my power to do it right this time around.
So, enough with the mellowdrama...
For those of you who are married, did you go thru premarital counseling outside of your priests' counseling? How important would you say such counseling is? My girlfriend is pretty much against any sort of counseling, primarily because of her culture (she's Romanian). I'd really like some help as to the benefits so that I can share them with her.
We went thru some sort of counseling- but it was mostly negative and meant to show us how neither one of us knew the other and basically how after the honeymoon was over we'd really get on each others nerves, the warmth would dry up, and basically all we'd have to go on was a cold duty-bound love to carry out the commitment we made before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Of course, I believe the pastor who gaves us counsel was describing his own situation (not with those exact words) and the situation of my in laws (whom are great people btw, don't get me wrong). Thus most of our counseling that we took to heart came from my own parents, and other people who had been married some time and actually looked happy about it. Hopefully Orthodox priests are a bit more objective than that.
So 6+ years later (and 5 kids) we still don't hate each other yet- perhaps we're in denial- my Princess is also my best companion. So here's some of my own whipper-snapper advice that we learned, some has been said above.
Talk to each other- but also find out what words mean
to each other- me and the mrs have had a coupla tussles because she or myself said something that meant something completely different to the other one.
Accept that it won't always be perfect (in a sense), but refuse to accept that warmth is temporary- and you as the man will be critical in keeping that.
Accept that you might have a scrum- but don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Sometimes she needs to be mad at you- and you don't need to fix that immediately, sure apologize, but allow her some time. Frederica Matthews Greene has a wonderful program on Ancient Faith Radio that deals with this- about 6-8 months ago.
Recognize that God created men and women differently (and I'm not trying to invoke Evangelical Role of the Man/Woman stuff here persay) and those differences are not negative.
Try and make sure you're best friends, be transparent but not crude.
There are many other things to be sure, if you see a happily married couple, especially an older one, ask 'em some advice. Also I'd recommend Emerson Eggrich's Love and Respect series or book- he's not Orthodox, but his message is very applicable.