So tonight was pre-marital Round 2. I have been grumpy and off all day, in anticipation of the evening. I had to miss teaching at VBS to do this, which made it a challenge for the rest of the VBS leaders, but they rose to the occasion to make it possible for me to be gone. But that didn't help my mind-set any, trying not to start resenting this couple who could only make tonight work for our meeting. My stomach was twisting as I waited for them to arrive - late of course.
And then something surprising happened. It actually went pretty well. I walked through the marriage service with them, emphasizing the promises they'd be making, and how as a community of faith we take this very seriously. And then I asked them if this was truly what they wanted, if this was what their intentions are. And this actually led to some conversation.
It became clear that the groom will not do the inventory because his reading and comprehension skills are minimal, and plus he has some extreme family disfunction in his past and some current drug abuse issues that he doesn't want to own up to (those were primarily the questions he was freaking out about on the inventory). But he is committed to going through with the marriage. When I asked if we could talk about their relationship in our sessions, and about their goals and plans for the future, he did agree to commit to that. When I teased him that that meant he'd actually have to talk, that made him smile. It really seemed to help when I affirmed how uncomfortable he'd been feeling with the process and about me as pretty much a complete stranger. That put him more at ease.
The bride also relaxed quite a bit with this session. She opened up a bit, and was able to be more direct with the groom. She knows what she is getting, she fully knows the horrific upbringing he survived, his intellectual limitations, his immaturity, and his forays into substance abuse. But she still wants this, and is pretty practical about their chances together. I didn't find any rose-colored glasses here.
I still can't help wondering why in the world they want to go through with this. But they have committed to the process (adjusted for his intellectual and emotional limitations), and seem to have taken most of the chip off their shoulders. I still have misgivings, but feel better about it now. Maybe I'm just fooling myself, but I think we can do some positive work together. Sigh. I hope.