7: The Marriage Class

7: The Marriage Class

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

The Marriage Class

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.

~Barnett R. Brickner

“We’re starting a new class that will improve your marriage,” Pastor Bob announced from the pulpit one Sunday. “The sign-up sheet is coming around.”

My husband Eric shot me a hopeful look. A look that clearly said, “We’re not doing that, right?”

My return glance said, “Don’t you think we should? It would be good for us.”

His hand found mine. “I thought you were happy,” he whispered.

I squeezed his fingers and said, “I am. But I want to take this class.”

“But we’re already so busy. Do you think we have time in our schedule for one more thing?” Eric was right about that. We had five children, the youngest one just five months old, and our time was already stretched extremely thin. But still, something told me to join this class.

I shrugged. “I just want to do this.”

Eric nodded and when the sign-up sheet came around, he wrote our names on it.

The first night of the class, each couple had to stand up in front of the others and share a little bit about themselves. Because our church is large and holds two services each Sunday, I had never met many of the other people in the class.

One couple stood up to share about themselves. “We had a baby last October,” the wife said. Eric smiled at me. Our own little Nathan was the same age.

Another couple shared the ages and genders of their children, and they matched up perfectly with our other kids. Major play date potential there.

And several couples shared that they were on their second marriages, just like Eric and me. Each spouse had brought children from their first marriage into the new family and they were in the process of blending everybody together, just like we were.

At the break time, Eric and I found ourselves chatting with one of those blended couples. They are a “yours, mine, and ours” family just like Eric and me. As we talked, I felt a connection with the wife and asked if she’d like to get together some time. She smiled and looked relieved that I’d asked.

“That sounds like fun,” she said. “Especially since we have so much in common.”

In the car on the way home from church, I told Eric how glad I was that we had joined the class.

“Am I that bad of a husband?” he said with a grin. “Are we on the rocks already?”

I laughed and patted his hand. “No, you’re a great husband — terrific, in fact. But the truth is that I’ve been lonely since I moved here.”

Eric’s eyebrows shot up. “Lonely? We have five kids and you are always saying you never have a moment to yourself. ‘I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself,’ ” he whined, imitating me.

“Not that kind of lonely,” I said. “Like lonely for girlfriends, people I have things in common with.” When Eric and I had married, I moved two hundred miles away from my hometown. This meant leaving my family, my teaching job, and all of my friends. And while I know it was the right decision, I often missed those people. Especially my mom.

Eric squeezed my hand. “I know moving was hard on you. And you’re right, this class might be the perfect chance to make some new friends.”

I began to list all of the women I had found interesting. People I’d like to get to know better. Like the lady who had a baby the same age as mine, and the women who were in blended families. These ladies were second wives — a tough gig — and they were probably stepmoms too, a challenge in its own right. I had so much in common with these ladies and in that moment, I knew why something had prompted me to take the marriage class.

It wasn’t for my marriage. Not really. It was more to meet these women who had similar life experiences to mine. To make friends with them and support each other. To have someone to meet for coffee. Maybe provide a listening ear. Or even a shoulder to cry on.

I hadn’t taken the time to make new friends in my new town. And that was a big mistake. But I plan to fix it very soon.

Every Sunday night, when my marriage class meets, I’ll not only be growing closer to my husband. I’ll be growing closer to some new girlfriends.

~Diane Stark

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