Lessons in Love

From we heart it
Back when we’d only been together a few months, but if we’re honest, knew that ‘this is it’, and that we’d likely be together for as long as either of us could foresee, the man read something in a magazine which said we should check that we had the same life goals. So we duly spent an evening separately writing down where we saw ourselves in the future. And then compared them.
It could have gone horribly wrong, but actually, as I’ve mentioned before, we had fairly similar aims and goals, and the ones that weren’t on the other person’s list, were certainly not deal breakers. We both saw children as part of our future at some point. Both rated travel as super important, and similarly both wanted to live and work abroad again at some point in our lives. We were both are keen to be financially responsible, yet also enjoy life and take opportunities when they came our way. On my list I mentioned having a supportive, close network of friends and family, and a big old farmhouse kitchen table with a just brewed teapot always on it, and he didn’t mention that, but just really because he hadn’t thought about it, so that also became a joint aim. His aim to learn to fly a helicopter really doesn’t do it for me though, so that stayed on his list, and added onto mine was to support the man in his crazy wishes.
Part of the deal of getting married in our church is that you have pre-marriage counselling with the vicar. Call me nuts, but I was actually looking forward to this. I was excited to show the vicar how in love we were, and how perfect for one another we were, and how we’d already been sensible and checked that we wanted the same things. Nothing was going to come as a shock to us…uh uh…no way….
Lots of questionnaire filling in and tick boxes were involved, but not of the ‘do you want children’ simple easy, yes/no/maybe kind. 
First question…
Do you want children, and if so, to what extent are you willing to go to have them.
WHOA. Ok….we’d talked, and yes, we both were pretty sure that at some point we wanted children. We certainly hadn’t discussed the not being able to have children option though. Naive? Maybe. So then the two of us, with the vicar’s input talked through this. Would we go for IVF? Would we discuss surrogate mothers? Would adoption be something that we’d consider. If we failed in all of these, how would we feel? 
Fortunately we both pretty much felt the same way about the situation, but wow am I pleased that we discussed this. What if we’d gotten that far and it had transpired that I would never go through IVF, whereas the man would do ANYTHING to have children. Neither are the case, but it could have happened.
So after that shocker, we were nursed back to life again with slightly easier questions like; whose marriage do you most admire and why; what was your parents attitude to money and how has that affected your relationship with money; what values do you most want to inspire in your children if you have them….
These were easier, although still challenging and thought provoking in their own way.
There were questions about living wills and death and monogamy (yep, about monogamy and what we classed as not being monogamous)….and DIVORCE. Now divorce is a whole other subject that I’ll cover some other day when I’m feeling braver and more emotional ready, but I can tell you, I certainly wasn’t ready for that subject to rear it’s head at our pre-MARRIAGE sessions (again, naive? Maybe).
We talked about how we felt about divorce, and when we thought it was acceptable, when we thought it was the wrong thing to do, and what we could do to prevent it. Would we consider marriage counselling? What would we consider as a crisis point in our marriage. Would infidelity intrinsically lead to divorce?
None of these things were what I’d been expecting from our pre-marriage sessions with our vicar. But they truly were some of the most important hours we’ve spent in the lead up to the wedding. I know some of you may think that you’ve been together for so long, and lived together already, there’s nothing that you haven’t discussed. I thought that too. But really people, find time, put your preconceptions behind you, and go and do it. Having someone with you to help negotiate the pretty tense subjects somehow helps. and they can guide you to think about things you’d never have thought you’d even need to think about. Relate offer sessions, and I’m pretty sure, after the wedding, it will be forty pounds you won’t regret. (unlike a lot of other things I’m already beginning to regret spending our cash on….but again, that’s another story).
Categories: Marriage, Our Favourite Posts
13 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted September 10, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Great Post with amazing insight! Have a great weekend!

  2. Posted September 10, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Wow Fliss another great post! I would never think about having pre-marriage counselling I guess because I've only ever thought counselling was for couples who had problems.

    I'm glad you found it useful x

  3. Posted September 10, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    We had a brief session with our vicar and I too was really pleased to have done it. Sometimes it takes someone else to ask the questions for you to think about them and having it in that atmosphere and in that situation can make all the difference. Thanks for sharing in this post.

  4. Posted September 10, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    My golly Fliss. That sounds heavy going. I would have been an emotional wreck! I over think everything so this would have been an absolute hell for me!

    You sound like you have a solid relationship. Good for you guys xx

  5. Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Great Post, Fliss. Very useful. Thanks.

  6. Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I love this – such a good idea! I also feel quite pleased that we've actually addressed some of these ourselves.

    Both of our sets of parents are divorced, and so that's a subject about which we talked at length – how we hope to avoid ever getting to that stage, and what we feel about it. Infidelity was covered too.

    The IVF one is tricky – we felt that no matter how much you talk about it now, the reality of the situation would be so different that we each reserved the right to change our minds were it to happen. We also discussed the hard decisions that some parents face when they find out that an unborn child has a disability – there's no way we could know, so acknowledging that fact is the best start you can make.

    The key thing is to have the conversation, even if you can't possibly come to a firm conclusion on anything.

    Remember the Sunscreen song? "Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday."

    I ignore the first sentence, and embrace the second. ;) Consider as much as you can, and hopefully there'll be nothing that can blindside you.

  7. Aisling
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    As much as you think you have discussed every teeny tiny issue that could arise in your relationship, as good ol' Baz Luhrmann so fabulously put it, SOMETHING will blindside you at some point.

    Like Becca, Phil and I both come from 'broken' (but subsequently beautifully 'fixed') families so we have always been very clear on our opinions on the less pleasant side of a marriage. Similarly with the baby conversation. And the financial side of things. And my hatred of lumpy mashed potato.

    But if there is ever anything that does catch us unawares….we know that we can take it.


  8. Posted September 10, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    LOVE that you talk about monogamy and divorce. Progressive thinking is where it's at!

    I have this theory… that once you make something (say, divorce… i won't even touch monogamy right now) a topic of discussion and accept it as a very real, probable thing, it loses it's scariness. Take horror movies. Some of the scariest movies I've seen don't ever show or show very little of the killer or monster. We don't know what it looks like, what it will do and we're left to our own imagination. It's scary shit. But when we're exposed to the creature scene after scene, we get used to seeing it and it becomes less scarier. This does not mean that divorce is easy if you talk about it a lot. I'm sure divorce is really fucking hard stuff. But talking about it helps you to own it and understand it, and hopefully be able to avoid it or deal with it better than others.

    Just my two cents.

  9. Posted September 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Fliss, once again… a thoroughly enjoyable and worth while read.
    You've made me start questioning some things that Gavin and I have merely paddled in. Hard conversations like that are absolutely so important to have before a wedding, yet it's something you don't see on the countdown lists and wedding to-do planners.
    This has definitely made me want to plunge into these topics with my man. Thank you. xo

  10. Anonymous
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    We did one full day of pre wedding classes in our village hall with several other couples marrying at our church, instead of a series of one on ones, but we found it so useful too.

    I'm a divorce lawyer and you could say that has added an interesting angle to me and the Mister getting married (which we did (yay!!) two weeks ago)

    Looking forward to your post on D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Fliss :)

    Lucy x

  11. Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, that sounds pretty deep, I never realised that you would need to fill in a questionnaire, I wonder if it differes depending upon your faith or if it is just on a vicar by vicar basis?

2 Trackbacks

  • By My Other Half. on February 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    [...] for all of forever. If you’re marrying in Church, you’ll have had some form of pre-marital counselling and will have discussed your vows, with each other and probably with your Priest or Minister. [...]

  • By The House of Marbles on February 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    [...] always thought they were quite cute! I think, ultimately, I’m echoing Clare’s wise words. There’s many subjects and areas of life that pre-marital counselling will touch on and [...]

Post a Reply to Casie

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post