Monday, May 28, 2012

Throw Away Your Television

We talk a lot about wedding preparations in the blogosphere, but we don't often talk about marriage preparations.  Ironic, isn't it, when a wedding lasts only a day and the marriage lasts for the rest of your life?

One of the things the Catholic Church does really well (in my opinion...biased?  Maybe.) is marriage preparation.  Some people view this as a series of tedious hoops to jump through in order to reserve a pretty ceremony location.  If you go into the process with an open mind, however, the Church's marriage preparation requirement really does prepare you for what marriage really is, and gives you the tools necessary to create a healthy, lasting marriage and family.

Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana- turning the water into wine (and not just any wine- really good wine).  As such, the marriage preparation requirement is called Pre-Cana.

The exact requirements for Pre-Cana are different for each diocese, but in general, you are required to meet with your pastor at least once, meet with the priest marrying you a few times (which might be the same priest, but for us, it isn't), and attend a Pre-Cana class.

Our diocese offered three versions of the class- a weekend retreat called Engaged Encounter, a series of 2-hour classes, once a week for 6 weeks, or a "One Day Extravaganza" (my nickname for it) called the Conference for the Engaged.  Confession: we chose Conference for the Engaged because it was the cheapest option and was only one day :D

CFE was a wonderful experience, which I attribute to the fact that we came into it with an open mind.  We didn't have any preconceived notions about what would or wouldn't be said; we were there to listen and to learn.  We arrived early, chose a table at the very front of the room, and took notes through all of the talks.  (Okay so I took notes...Mr. Geek just listened.)  The conference was run by 2 married couples, a priest, and a family counselor; through a series of witness talks, activities, and a video, we covered a lot of topics, and learned a lot of helpful information.  I'll be blogging about many of the topics we covered from now until the wedding, scattered amongst the wedding-planning posts.

Also, there were donuts.  Donuts = pleasant experience.  // {personal photo}

One of the most interesting talks was called "Compatibility and Love" and talked about how commitment, compatibility, and love are not things that happen to us, but, rather, they are choices we must actively make throughout our relationships.  You can chose to be compatible with each other.  It sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but it's true- compromising on things and accepting each others' viewpoints, even when they're different, are all active choices we make in order to remain compatible- in order for the relationship to keep working.  We believe that love is not just an emotion- it's an action.  A couple does not simple "fall out of love"; if a relationship fails, it's because the couple stops actively loving each other, stops trying to remain compatible, stops working on the relationship.  Sometimes marriage is hard; sometimes you don't always like each other.  If you go into marriage knowing that love is more than just the feeling of butterflies in the pit of your stomach, more than just sexual compatibility, and more than just having certain activities or hobbies in common, then you'll be prepared when problems arise to know that, even though there may be fighting and hardship and pain, you keep sacrificing and working and trying until the problems are resolved.  And when one problem is resolved, another might crop up- and you attack it again, together.  These concepts seemed...well, not altogether foreign to us, but we'd never heard them phrased quite like this.  I think we both came out of this talk feeling a new resolve to always work for our relationship, even if it's not always easy.

The couple shared with us some things that they did to work at being compatible in the early days of their marriage.  When they first got married, they made the decision to get rid of their TV.  For about 3 years, they did not have a TV in their house and therefore could not arrange their schedules around the shows they wanted to watch every night of the week.  This meant that their first priority had to be each other- they couldn't retreat to the comfort of the remote control when they were bored, they had to spend time talking with each other and spending time together.  As an added bonus, it actually strengthened their relationships with their friends; if he wanted to watch a sporting event, he had to go out to a bar with his friends, or if she wanted to watch an award show, she had to go to a friend's house.  They have since purchased a new TV, but the habits and communication they established during those first three years have remained; he still prefers to go out to the bar with his brothers and friends to watch the game than to stay at home on a Sunday afternoon by himself.

TV isn't really a big deal to Mr. Geek or me.  We both have shows we enjoy that are currently on the air, but neither of them watches these shows regularly.  (I'm a few episodes behind on "Glee" but it doesn't bother me- that's what the internet is for.)  However, this talk inspired us to talk about things we want to maybe get rid of in the beginning of our marriage to ensure that we develop and maintain healthy communication habits.

As geeks, we're both in love with our smartphones.  Carrying the entire internet around in your pocket can get kind of addicting; I can spend hours playing Draw Something and he can spend an entire evening reading articles on his Google Reader.  Sometimes we'll find ourselves sitting next to each other on the sofa for hours, absorbed in our technology, not saying a word to each other.

CFE was held in a Catholic school auditorium, and no one's cellphones seemed to work.  The moment you walked outside, however, you had perfect service.  I figured maybe they had jammers installed in the school so high schoolers couldn't text during class or school assemblies.

"When we get married," I joked, "we should have a cellphone jammer in our apartment."

"You need your phone in your apartment, though," Mr. Geek pointed out.

"Well, we could use geo-fencing to keep it to just the bedroom," I said.  "The moment you cross the door way, you lose service."

After we heard from the couple who got rid of their TV, I thought about this solution more seriously.  While installing a cellphone jammer in our bedroom would be way too complicated- and, likely, expensive- that doesn't mean we couldn't have some sort of rule.  No cellphones in the bedroom!

We've talked about it some more and arrived at a solution that we think will work for us- no cellphones in bed.  This means that, when we're getting in bed for the night, if the phone rings, you have to get out of bed to answer it.  If you want to text somebody, you have to get out of bed to do so.  If you want to check the score on a football game or update your Facebook status or read one last article on Cracked, you have to get out of bed.

I've read that some couples have very strict "no stuff in bed" rule- they require the bed to be used only for sleep know...that other thing that happens in bed.  That would preclude us from watching a movie together before falling asleep or reading a book or playing X-BOX.  Banning just cellphones will force us to be present to each other, even if we're just trying to fall asleep.  Hopefully, if one of us gets a phone call (and it's not an emergency), we won't want to get out of bed, therefore the call will go unanswered and we won't choose technology over our spouse.

Were you required to attend any marriage preparation classes before the wedding day?  Did you hear any particularly interesting stories or pieces of advice during those classes?  Would you ever consider getting rid of your TV to improve your communication habits with your spouse/future spouse?  Would you ever consider banning cellphones from an area of the house?

Much love,
The Geeks


  1. Don't want to burst any of your reader's bubbles, but cell phone jamming is illegal in the States. BUT your solution seems much more practical and cost effective anyways :D

    1. Well there goes that theory lol But yes, it was an extreme, hypothetical solution that led us to a better one :)