Wedding Bells: Kris & Mark

Marriage Retreat

June 29th, 2005

Marriage Retreat
Our priest told us we needed to go on a engaged couples retreat – in order to get married at St. Denis….so we went to one in Montibello this weekend. It was held at a seminary. The other couples at the retreat said they were their for the certificate of completion, as well. We both went, with our feet slightly dragging. After 44 hours – little sleep – we came away from the retreat with a better understanding of ourselves as a couple.

Tears were shed, we ate a lot and I went to my first Confession in 2 years.

Here’s a shot from the seminary’s “Mary Garden”. Mark identified the statue as Quan Yin – the female avatar of the Buddha – people believed in here and believed they would be sent into paradise. She fit in well with the other female statues in the garden – from South America, Africa and Europe.

Marriage Retreat
My past confirmation experiences consisted of peanut butter’n’jelly sandwiches and bunk beds. At this seminary – we had our own little space….like something out of a convent. They also segreated the sexes. It was the first time I slept without Mark…for over a few months. On the other hand – they kept us busy with prayer, writing, discussion and eating from sunrise until 11 pm at night.

Marriage Retreat
Montibello was totally a barrio of sorts – with Sizzlers, Starbucks and Mariscos….before checking in on Friday night – we had dinner at the King Taco Restaurant….the carintas burrito burnt my tounge off. But it was yummy.

The retreat folks asked us to bring in snacks and six-packs of soda for the communal snack table. People went all out on that – with popcorn, Asian goodies, cookies, a carrot cake and more. One couple from San Diego remarked that they couldn’t stop eating this weekend…and the communal snack table was in addition to the meals in the dining room – scrambled eggs, tacos, baked chicken and stuff like that.

Marriage Retreat

The seminary is a beautiful place for a retreat. They even had a pool….I wondered what priests needed with a pool – but it was there. During one of couple discussions – Mark and I dipped our feet in the pool and talked about the marriage thing.

The retreat coordinators were made up of married couples – some of whom of been together for 30-some years. A priest was also tossed into the mix to remind those of who were doing stuff like living together and having sex before marriage, were sinning. Jennie wanted more information about being a sinner – like being forced to pay too much in rent and an employer paying you too little….or something like that… “Is that sinning?” she asked.

The retreat coordinators admitted they were not professionals. The point of the retreat was for the engaged couples to do most of the talking – between each other. The coordinators would do presentations on a wide-range of topics – from fair arguments to decision-making skills. Then the girls and boys would be separated into writing groups – we’d journal on reflections about the presentation and ourselves. Then the couples would get back together and share the writings. One coordinator said, “Treat these writing moments like you were writing a love letter to your fiance.”

That helped a lot. I’m amazed how focused our discussion became after writing the thoughts, concerns and dreams down. Mark is a beautiful writer. He has a future in journalism – if that UNIX sys admin thing doesn’t work out.
Marriage Retreat
“They learn that good marriages don’t just happen. They must be developed. For many couples, this weekend is one of the most significant experiences of their courtship.” (from LA’s Engaged Encounter Site.)

Mark and I felt changed by this weekend. Sure, we talk – but when I’m at home – I can always pop in my Sex and the City DVD’s….when we try to talk at cafes – sometimes the music is just annoyingly loud. So – this weekend – we could really talk – bare our hearts and explore our souls. Even though I felt a bit nervous about the heavy emphasis on God in our relationship – we felt it made sense for our marriage.

We had a two chances for group discussion. One of them allowed us to submit questions without leaving our names. One question asked: “If your partner is with-holding sex – when should you get a mistress?” That left everyone nearly speechless. I’m sure it was a joke question. Still it was treated to serious discussion. I asked “For all the ladies out there (and for the guys who are planning to do so) what do you think about changing your last name?” Several guys sputtered that marriage was about a new identity and partnership, so the chick should be willing to change her name. One macho man said that if the girl kept her maiden name and passed it on to her children – it could be a security risk because the maiden name is used in a lot of credit stuff – identity theft and other conspiracy theories. Thankfully, some women stepped up and said if the wife is known professionally by her last name – she should keep her maiden name. Other girls said they’re the last of their family line and the last name could die with them. That wouldn’t be cool. Finally, I stood up and asked what’s wrong with the guys taking on the women’s last names? I asked if they were stuck in the 50’s or something? I got snickers and some decidely male boos. I also pointed out that if men were willing to become the new generation of “stay-at-home dads” (from a previous question – the boys cheered that idea on) – then they should be willing to take on their wife’s last name. I think the ladies gave me props on that one.

I’m doing the hyphen thing with my last name…in case you were wondering….but I probably won’t change all my documents until after the honeymoon. I went through hell to get my passport – and I want to avoid that chaos until after Mexico.

I’m still nervous about the marriage thing – but it’s an adventure of a lifetime and I’ll be with my honey. So, that’s a good thing.

1 Comment

  1. vkdir says

    awesome. even though it sounds like the whole thing was somewhat forced upon you, it’s quite a feat to actually analyze yourselves so deeply and intensely before such a major life change. you’ve done a wonderful thing. thanks for sharing the experience.

    July 1st, 2005 | #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Recent Posts


Recent Comments

Sky Sponsored by Web Hosting