Friday, June 12, 2009

Painful Pre-marital

This evening I have experienced the most painful, disturbing and down-right AWFUL premarital meeting of my professional life. And I have counseled well over 50 couples at this point, which had made me thinking I'd seen alot. Oh no. Tonight I was introduced to a whole new level of awful.

It was over several hours ago, but I just can't seem to get it out of my head. I am incredibly disturbed by the obvious multitude of ugly issues the groom is not dealing with, and the serious denial the bride is in. In fact, I'm pretty sure that he has absolutely no interest or desire to get married, or continue to support or have anything to do with their 1 1/2 year old son. So I am at a loss as to why they even showed up tonight, and why this wedding is happening. I was almost to the point of straight out asking them this blunt question, but realized that I wasn't going to get anywhere with him tonight. I decided to let them talk some things over before we meet again on Tuesday. If they even show up on Tuesday.

The atmosphere was ugly, so many unsaid things hanging over them. They were reluctant to even come into my office, and struggled to answer the simplest of questions without tension towards each other. The groom refused to answer most of the questions on the inventory, but couldn't or wouldn't tell me why. He just seemed pissed off and uncomfortable. The bride just didn't deal with him, acting like nothing negative was happening. Every attempt I made to make him more at ease, to establish something positive with him was ignored.

Wow. It was just really bad. And I'm still trying to process it. I'm really not sure what I'm going to say to them. Knowing what I know about their history, I think that their marriage is a huge mistake. Even after I share my reservations, I can totally see the bride dragging us through this painful unproductive process, in her determination to get to this wedding. She already sent out the invitations, before she even verified with me that I'd do the wedding. Her family has such a tenuous connection with faith and church, I don't want to jeopardize that. But I feel like I'm witnessing a train wreck. I've never refused to marry a couple. There have been a few that I insisted that we do some extra work before the wedding, which actually worked out quite well. The couples involved were able to see that they needed some more guided conversations. But I don't see that awareness or capability in this couple. It will be a miracle if I can get them to talk about anything more than the practical details of the service, and even that will be like pulling teeth.

Ugh. I am just haunted by this evening, with an ugly feeling in my gut. I don't know what to do, and don't know if anything I tried to do or say would even be received, or understood for that matter. Ugh.

It's gonna be hard to fall asleep tonight.


John said...

I would prepare worst case scenario come Tuesday and if they show up, lay it all out on the table for them. If nothing has changed, I would thank them for coming and encourage them to find someone else. You need to be able to live with yourself and part of being faithful to your calling is saying no when it is the right thing to do.

Betsy said...

Do you have a professional counselor in town to whom you can refer them? "I want you to have the best possible marriage; it seems to me that X, Y, and Z are challenging issues for you. Dr. A has training I don't to help couples develop in these areas. To continue with our wedding plans, I am asking you to have x# of visits with Dr. A [to whom you have spoken previously]." That's about the best I can think of. What a sickening feeling for you.

P.S. said...

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of being in the boonies is that mental health care is hard to come by. The nearest professional counselor who could take this on is a three hour drive away, one way.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Yikes. I keep telling my own adult children, "The marriage is more important than the wedding." It is sad when the wedding planning has taken precedence over the marriage "planning." Pray with this couple, teach them how to pray.

John said...

I think your chances for success would be greater trying to teach a pig to sing.