Uffda. I'm still working out what I just experienced in my latest pre-marital session. Each time I think I know what's going to happen, or think I've got things figured out with these folks, I end up being surprised and challenged.
The positives - both were able to honestly and clearly express their love and trust and commitment to each other. It was simple and straightforward, and...beautiful, really. They were also able to express and start discussing their relationship challenges and issues with me. I hadn't expected this, I'd hoped for it, but thought it wouldn't or couldn't happen.
The negatives - so many, many difficult issues for which they struggle to be able to come to any consensus or game plan. They both have complicated and painful pasts that have a HUGE impact in how they understand and deal with their realities. They both have families that barely function. He deals with substance abuse and a history of getting in trouble with the law. And so dealing with all their life issues becomes so huge and seemingly insurmountable for them. Their frustration and anger were palpable as they talked about their issues, but they didn't seem able to move past venting to dealing with them and coming up with ideas and solutions.
I wish that I had more time with them. I wish they were open to seeking out some skilled counseling. I feel better about them as a couple than I did when we first started. But. They have so much to deal with and overcome. And getting married is not going to solve any of the problems. So here we are. Uffda.
And what in the world am I going to preach at this wedding?