Hi Dr. Laura.
A few weeks ago you were talking about pre-marriage counseling. (Not sure when as I now download you and currently I still have 147 episodes pending...I listen when I drive, do laundry and clean. With this many episodes remaining I either have a small house or a very dirty one. HaHa!)
My husband and I got married in the Catholic Church and "Pre-Cana" classes were required once a week for six weeks. We were shacking up and I remember lecturing him on what NOT to say if they ask where we lived together and being completely put out by this requirement. (I'm the Catholic and he's Methodist. Yes, he apparently loved me very much to go through with all the Catholic rituals - I was the one bitching!). The married couple who led the class of approximately 6 couples did NOT ask if we were shacking up, having sex, or attending church weekly. What a relief! However, the first night they SUGGESTED if any couple was not living a moral lifestyle they should immediately abstain from any sexual relations over the next six weeks. They told us we couldn't get back the significance of what this memorable moment would be, BUT we could at least have the memories of the next six weeks of working as a couple with complete honesty, integrity, and open communication. When we left that night, I moved into our second bedroom and he remained in our "shack up" bed.
That first night of classes, we were also shown walnuts in a jar (signifying God, our relationship, our love, our honesty, and our family) then they poured a jar of rice into the walnut jar which represented all the "OTHER" things in life: stress, work, money etc., and the rice fit around the nuts nicely and the walnuts didn't budge. However, when we were asked to take our jars and put the rice in first then add the walnuts, there wasn't enough room for all the walnuts. Well, the message was loud and clear: "Without God, love, honesty, and family FIRST there would never be enough room if we put stress, money, lust etc., before them." It was certainly an "Ah-ha" moment and we still have the SAME jar sitting in our house.
This month we celebrated 20 yrs. of marriage on Oct. 19th and I PROMISE you those six weeks had more to do with our marriage than ANY thing else. And for those who are wondering if we did abstain the answer is YES and NEITHER of US will EVER forget the trail of bobbie pins, shoes, clothes and veils from the limo to the hotel room! Seriously we still talk about OUR first time and I thank the Catholic Church for the requirement of those classes as we ARE living proof of their success!