Reflections on ‘The Marriage Course’

A while back I wrote that Sofia and I were taking a program called ‘The Marriage Course’. We finished the last lesson on Sunday.

We both found the course somewhat disappointing because it did not address exactly what we were looking for. This is not to say the course was bad, but it is fundamentally a course about learning how to communicate – which I suppose is useful for most couples, since communication seems to be a major problem. We were primarily hoping for a more interactive program with a qualified counsellor who would be able to help us with various issues. The program itself consisted of watching a video and time alone to do some exercises.

For Sofia and me, there were few surprises in the exercises. We have good communication, so there was not much to be learned form the exercises (which stressed revealing and opening up of oneself). Others in the course said that they found the exercises useful and discovered new things about their partners. Sofia and I were also the only couple (aside from the hosts) who attended every session.

One thing Sofia and I picked up on at the end of the course, when the hosts were thanking everyone for participating, they stressed how hard it is to get husbands to come out for the course. We both felt that comment was directed at me – probably because I am a stern man who is quick to question what I am told – rather than the ‘green pepper’ who nods his head with vacant approval and a simple grin

The last session was titled ‘Love in Action’ – it was really about five different ways in which people express love: Loving Words, Thoughtful Presents, Physical Affection, Quality Time, and Kind Actions.

Of those, my two primary means of communication are Physical Affection and Quality Time (although, with friends it would be Quality Time and Loving Words - since I can't imagine anyone even remotely considering me as touchy-feely. Touchy-feelyness is something I always felt I wanted to reserve for that special someone in my life - my wife).

Since I’ve mentioned Quality Time, I should point out that I have a problem with the term. While our modern culture tends to stress the quality of the time, for me the quantity is far more important. I dislike being on a schedule, I dislike being told “I’ve got you booked in between 13:00 and 15:00). I think time is something that we really need to give freely of ourselves in order to enjoy and appreciate relationships (maybe that is just me).

For me, a perfect ‘date’ would go something like this:

(1) meet up between 13:00-14:00
(2) do something like go to a museum, art gallery, exhibition
(3) go for dinner
(4) go for a walk in a park (or some other secluded place), although a walk in a busy, colourful market is also good – maybe catch the sunset by the river
(5) go for a show or a movie
(6) go for coffee, have a deep intimate discussion
(7) go for a final walk before returning home

Of course, I am pretty flexible on the exact order and activities. My interest is in being with the person, not so much the activities. What is important is that I get to spend time with the person, a lot of time, not to feel that the attention given to me has been carefully measured and apportioned.

Note: In Japan, when you want to insult someone, you call them a vegetable. As my friend explained to me, “Green pepper means: pretty to look at, empty inside.” The equivalent North American expression would probably be “dumb blonde”.


hee hee I love that term -- "green pepper". I may just have to adopt that expression into my vocabulary.

Your description of a "perfect date" sounds perfect to me too.

I hope your stomach bug is feeling better.

Richard said…
I like the term 'green pepper' as well. Unfortunately (fortunately?), it was the only Japanese insult I was taught.

My wife would add dancing to that list (from midnoght till the early dawn - unfortunately, (1) I am no dancer, (2) I turn into a pumpkin between 23:00 and 24:00 - this has more to do with physical age than anything else).

My stomach seems to be quieter now. At least I managed to make it into work.
ingrid said…
What would a carrot be?
Richard said…
I have no idea, Ingrid. I was only told about 'green peppers'. Megumi did not see it fit to teach me how to insult people in Japanese.

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