I can’t believe my delay in posting this; a surprising number of people have asked me why this blog took so long to be written. Monday and Tuesday I was on an Air Force base in VA, and the rest of the week was a bit of a nightmare.

As you gathered from the day one blog, the sessions weren’t all that bad. However, apparently the stress of everything I had to do was a bit overwhelming on day two, and I was less open to the talks.

The sexuality talk went on forever. Not to mention the fact that the couple actually referred to their marriage as a three-way with Jesus. Sad part is that I’m not kidding about that. Not a good way to open my mind.

The following spirituality talk was even worse. It was the typical couple one would imagine to find at this type of retreat. They went on and on about how they share their prayer time together and how they find their strength in each other ad nauseum. It was mildly useful to hear them talk about the issues they’ve faced in their marriage, but again, I was so stressed with school that I was not in the mood to sit around and listen to people tell me about their problems.

The highlight of the day was the start. After arriving a cool 15 minutes late due to the rain (read: and the long lines at Dunkin’ Donuts), we got to take a personality test. It consisted of around 70 questions, selecting one of two answers for each. Each answer corresponded to one of two opposite personality types, with a total of 4 different categories (I’m doing a poor job of explaining this, but you’ll see where I’m going with this). The results were amazingly accurate:

  • Introvert – In a clean sweep of 10-0, I was declared a complete and total introvert (versus being an extrovert, obviously). This doesn’t mean that I can’t function in a social environment (which is in fact very much open to debate). It simply means that I draw my energy from being alone. They related this to marriage by describing a situation where an introvert will get home from work and typically not want to talk before having a chance to unwind. Meg is also an introvert, which works out nicely for us.
  • Sensor – A sensor is the type of person who acts simply on the facts at hand, as compared to reading into things and acting on that (labeled an Intuitor). This pretty accurately describes me again as I consider myself a very logical, calculating person. Meg also came up as a sensor, which again should make life easy on us.
  • Thinker – This also fits in with what I was saying about being very calculated. A Thinker simply acts on the facts at hand. A Feeler, on the other hand, will take into consideration the less tangible aspects of a situation. Meg is a feeler, which I think will work out great when we have kids. The example they gave in class was a situation where a teenage daughter wants to borrow the car, but it’s snowing lightly outside. The Thinker will say no, simply citing dangerous driving conditions. The Feeler, on the other hand, will take into account the extra stuff, like the fact that they already told the daughter she could borrow the car or the possible embarrassment the daughter will face for having over protective parents. What this all boils down to is going to be that our kids don’t want to ask me permission because I’ll likely say no, so they’ll go to their mother instead. I’m sure you can also apply this to the situation where a shady guy comes to pick up said daughter for a date. The Feeler mom (Meg) may sympathize with her daughter about whatever wrong feelings she may have for this guy. The Thinker dad (me) will sit on the couch with Uncle JJ and a six pack on one side and a baseball bat on the other. So once again, the personality test proved accurate.
  • Judger – This is the one I’m not entirely sure I agree with. The Judger will plan everything ahead of time. The Judger has to be in control. The woman running the test mentioned how vacations with a Judger are a nightmare as the Judger has every last minute planned out. So far, it completely describes me, especially the vacation part (Meg’s already dreading the marathon week she’s facing when we go to Orlando in September). However, the other side of that trait, the Perceiver, is big on compromise and seeing all sides of issues. That also describes me, as I rarely if ever think things are black and white. In fact, I often end up arguing with people who can’t or refuse to see the gray area in things. Meg was also a Judger, which balances us out nicely. One would think that two people who plan would bump heads, but there’s a difference. I like things planned, but am often too lazy to actually plan them, so Meg fills in that gap nicely.

So, now that all is said and done I still stand by the fact that I could have better spent those 10 hours on something else. On the other hand, if anyone has the opportunity to take a personality test, especially with your respective mates, I highly recommend it. All week Meg and I have been citing that test, especially when I’m feeling overly introverted. It seriously does make a relationship a bit easier having made the personality differences more concrete.

We had our first of two days of Pre Cana classes today, which for me is followed by leaving for an air force base in Langley on Monday. It’s a one-night trip, but the net effect is that Saturday through Tuesday is lost. As fate would have it, my classes came down hard and fast this semester (in addition to FedEx delaying my book arrivals), leaving me grossly behind after the first week and no time to actually catch up.

Needless to say, it was a struggle to keep an open mind throughout this whole procedure. We arrived at the “conference center” to find it looks alarmingly similar to a haunted house. I swear I could actually see the little girls from The Shining in the highest window in the house. A cold, dark place, it did little to raise my spirits about my situation. The first 15 minutes or so actually had Meg’s spirits dipping to my level.

Nuns. There were nuns inside. I’d rather have come face to face with the aforementioned Shining girls.

We had to make “Hello, my name is” name tags. They had blue and red markers. How cute.

They provided some food that could not be taken out of the dining area, but that didn’t turn out to be a problem because they left it out throughout the duration of the day, letting me stop in and snack at all possible times. My 8 meals a day eating schedule is a real pain in the ass, which will be reaffirmed on Tuesday as I try to sneak a protein bar onto a classified air force base. Lucas can attest, the foil wrapping on those things has gotten me into trouble before, but that’s another story.

Where was I? Oh ya, so the actual retreat really wasn’t all that bad. We had a speaker on Communication, which was fairly interesting. After that, the men and women separated to write a letter to their mate about where they think their communication needs to be improved. After 10 minutes, we got together with our fiancees to discuss what we wrote. That was also the format for the second talk on Finances, and will be for tomorrow’s talks on Sexuality and Spirituality.

The talks were decent, but the good points were the discussions with Meg. It felt like what I imagine marriage therapy would be, and even through we’re not having problems in our relationship I think it’s good to sit and talk about that kind of stuff once and a while. It served as a nice reminder as to why Meg and I are getting married, and not surprisingly we didn’t uncover any ground-breaking issues.

So, I left the retreat in fairly good spirits. We had 3 hours to burn, so we went to Barnes and Noble so I could make some progress on my homework. We walked around Nova for a bit, and then we had the Liturgy and Music Workshop.

This is where things got… interesting.

We were first spoken to, or more appropriately “lectured at”, by the chief Wedding Nazi at Villanova. Meg didn’t seem to feel this way, but I found this woman to be totally obnoxious. Now maybe it’s my general attitude towards “tradition for the sake of tradition”, but the things that Nova require, or perhaps just the presentation by Adolf herself, really started to bug me. She went over who has to walk in the procession, how we have to stand, and so on.  Some others asked if so-and-so could be done, and was typically met with a negative response.

Once the Nazi was finished, Eugene Levy was introduced as the music coordinator. I turned to Meg to make the obligatory American Pie comment, however she quickly dropped her head in anticipation of my comment. It was uncanny, this guy’s eyebrows were insane.

He went on to sample all of our options for music at various points throughout the ceremony. All of them. Here’s the kicker. As he played them, he was accompanied by a flute player (no, I can’t spell the real term) and a trumpet player (no, I don’t even know the real term). The music sounded good. However, we glanced ahead to the payment section of the program to find that each was an extra $150. So the whole demo turned out to be a big buttonhook because you had to pay extra to have it sound that nice.

The complications continued. We could get bagpipes for an additional $150. However, they are only allowed to play for the 15 minutes prior to the wedding, outside of the church.

$150, 15 minutes. Do the math.

Needless to say, once I discovered that the music we were hearing was not what we would get as part of the required cost, I was disillusioned to the whole process. Luckily the bathroom in the church was locked, so I got to run half way across campus to relieve myself and burn some time.

So, that was day 1. I’m not thrilled about having to drive all the way back out there tomorrow and spend my whole Sunday in a similar process, but at least the retreat itself isn’t all that painful. At very least, it forces me to put aside schoolwork and spend time with Meg.