When I got married the first time, we didn't do any premarital counselling. Perhaps it's because my dad was performing the ceremony, so that would be weird, but we didn't have to do any. Well, I take that back, we did get counselled on one thing: the "nuptual" kiss.
My dad had, at that point, done a lot of weddings, and had probably seen just about everything, though ministers, like nurses, never claim to have actually seen everything. There's always something out there to surprise us. Heck, he even did a funeral once where the gravedigger fell into the grave, causing a rather pregnant pause, followed by a firm "I'm OK" to filter up from the depths. So yeah, stuff happens.
Apparently, one of the things that can happen is that the bride and groom linger a bit too long at the "you may kiss the bride" booth. My father was rather clear on it, saying something to the effect of "it doesn't have to be a peck, but don't get carried away. It's a nuptual kiss." I've sometimes wondered if he said this to everyone, or if it was a fatherly boundary being set by a man who was getting ready to marry off his youngest child. In either event, I listened.
The other thing he said was for me to hang onto my veil when we blew out the unity candles, because there apparently was some kind of a fire hazard involved. Whether or not he actually saw a bride self immolate, I have no idea, but he was concerned. I haven't watched the video in years, but I do believe that you can see him take a small lunge toward me when he realizes that I completely ignored his advice and was, in fact, briefly in danger of becoming The Human Torch. Oh well, it was the heat of the moment (no pun intended), and I survived. The marriage, not so much.
So this time around, a dear friend of ours performed the ceremony. As I mentioned, it was intended as a private affair, so there was no pressure. No pressure, that is, till he said that he pretty much insists that everyone he marries take a premarital test, and then have some counselling before the wedding. Oh dear. No, Jill and Michael had just taken their test a few weeks before, and she was sure that they had "failed." I had been assuring her that you can't really "fail" a premarital test, but she, The Voice Of Doom, was sure that they had failed. She didn't say what was on the test, and since neither Jim or I had ever done counselling before, we went into it blind.
Let me tell you, some of those questions were HARD. It was one of those "rate this from 1-5, with 1 being strongly disagree, and 5 being strongly agree" tests. I hate when they say that, because you just KNOW that there are going to be questions that require an asterisk. But there is no asterisk (reminder to self: tell the story of the greatest April Fool's joke I ever did), so you just have to commit. I guess that's why it's a premarital test -- they must want you to commit -- but I cheated and was asking one of my friends "how would you answer this" on Facebook while I was testing.
Take, for example, the statement "I believe I know everything about my future spouse." Well honey, I was married long enough to know that you NEVER EVER know everything -- and frequently you know NOTHING -- about your spouse. But I paused, worried about what it means to answer with a disagreement to this question. Would that mean we aren't compatible? That he has secrets? That we haven't been together long enough? That he won't fold the towels right? Oops, forget that last one. Well, I really grappled with that question, finally asking my friend - who has been married for thirty years, and has known her husband even longer -- what she thought about that question. She stated rather matter of factly that even she learns new things about her husband from time to time. I calmed down and finished.
Jim took his test a couple of days later, and then the fretting began. By now, I was calm and knew it was gonna be fine -- though some counselling topics could get weird when doing it with a close friend. Jim worried that we had failed. Oye vay, I'm surrounded by voices of doom. He finally had me text the pastor, who replied that we had done fine. "What does THAT mean," Jim asked. He dialed the phone, and jumped right in, asking how we had done.
Well, it turned out that we had done well. As in, we showed more compatibility than almost anyone the pastor had ever married. This is no small accomplishment, since he's been a pastor for over fifty years. Even he sounded surprised. I'm not sure why that is, but it is what it is: we always knew from day one that it was right. (Yes, I have a story about that too, but it will wait for another day.) We ended up doing our counselling the day before the wedding, and found out that we had no areas for improvement, and even scored 100% match on several areas. We had, indeed, done well. It led, nonetheless, to some interesting discussions on that day. We found that we had just misread a couple of questions, and would have done even better had we read them correctly, but it didn't matter -- interesting discussions were had, as well as some laughs. The wedding was ON. We planned to have a brunch together before the wedding. Yes, if you plan your wedding right, the minister and his wife will feed you before the wedding.
The next morning, we got up and started getting ready. My phone dinged a text notification, and I went to check it. It was from the minister, who said, and I quote:
"This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Do you have any white wine with you?"
Gotta love that man. We took the Riesling we had with us, had a nice little wedding, a wee dram o' Scotch, and it was all over. As in, no nuptual kiss. He never told Jim to kiss his bride. I'm not sure if he forgot or, more likely, that since we were using a new template of the ceremony that didn't have him pronounce us as husband and wife (WE did, in the vows), that perhaps the nuptual kiss was left out too.
My dad would be proud.